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Best Walks In The Peak District | 10 Mapped Routes

Athena Mellor picks out her favourite routes in England's much-loved national park, ranging from quick wanders to overnight epics

Britain’s first national park, the Peak District sits between Sheffield and Manchester and is loved by many for its rolling peaks, gritstone crags, open moorland and abundance of hiking trails. Though walking in the park doesn’t require scaling any tall peaks or mountains, the highest being Kinder Scout at a modest 636m, the Peak is incredibly popular with hillwalkers who come here for the diversity of terrain; from the green rolling hills and limestone walls in the southern ‘White Peak’, to the craggy, gritstone tors and rough, moorland terrain of the more wild ‘Dark Peak’. The Peak District is also home to the start of the one of the world’s most famous walking trails, The Pennine Way — which begins in Edale and ends on the Scottish Border 268 miles later.

As part of our recent partnership with route planning app komoot, Outdoors Magic has been championing the finest walking routes across Britain. Previously, we’ve looked at the best walks in the Brecon Beacons and routes in the Lake District– and now, with the help of writer and vlogger Athena Mellor, it’s time to focus on the southern end of the Pennines, with a round-up of the 10 best routes in the Peak District.

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Best Walks In The Peak District: The Top 10

There really is something for everybody in this list. If you seek a long, hillwalk on vast moorland, head onto Kinder Scout or Derwent Edge, for their vast views and wild terrain; or if instead a short ramble up a hill is what you’re after, try Win Hill or Thorpe Cloud. As well as that, there are some lovely reservoir and woodland walks where nature and wildlife are abundant.

  1. Kinder Plateau
  2. Pennine Way: Edale to Marsden
  3. Stanage, Burbage & Higger Tor from Hathersage
  4. Derwent Edge & Reservoir
  5. Win Hill from Hope
  6. Padley Gorge
  7. Chrome & Parkhouse Hills
  8. Three Shires Head
  9. The Roaches & Lud’s Church
  10. Dovedale & Thorpe Cloud

 

Walk 1: The People’s Mountain

Kinder Scout has to be the most iconic walk in the Peak District. It’s widely known as being home to the famous Mass Trespass of 1932, when around 400 ramblers wilfully trespassed onto Kinder in an act of “civil disobedience” to demand the right for public access onto open countryside. Today, Kinder is known as the ‘People’s Mountain’ as its relatively low height means its views can be enjoyed by many. Despite that, Kinder Scout shouldn’t be underestimated. Walking the full length of the plateau is a brilliant day out, taking you from Edale up the infamous Jacob’s Ladder and over 10 miles of trails with glorious views onto the Hope Valley.

Athena says: “I have walked Kinder in every season and never does it feel the same. Atop the plateau, you can either have the most glorious of views or be obscured by a thick, heavy cloud. It really does feel wild up there, and that’s why I love it so much!”

Best Walks In The Lake District

Walk 2: The First Stage Of The Pennine Way

Walking the Pennine Way through the Peak District would make for a fantastic overnight trip in the Peak District, beginning from the popular village of Edale and heading up towards Kinder Low. Then start hiking into the wilder, lesser travelled part of the Peak; onto Bleaklow Moor, onwards to Black Hill and past Wessenden Reservoir to the Yorkshire village of Marsden. On this 44km route, you’ll have just wild moors, vast skies and moorland birds for company. Most people opt to camp or stay in the Youth Hostel at Crowden for the night, splitting this trip in two.

Athena says: “Walking this part of the trail is high on my list. I love walking across the moors, and this overnight route takes you over some of the very best moorland in the country – vast, wild and empty.”

Walk 3: Along The Edge


The famous gritstone edge of Stanage is a must-see when visiting the Peak District, but instead of heading up straight from the carpark, why not link it with this 11km circular walk from Hathersage that also takes in two more well-known gritstone edges; beautiful Burbage and Higger Tor? Popular with climbers and walkers alike, Stanage overlooks the Derbyshire countryside and has dramatic views in every direction. This walk then continues around to Burbage and Higger Tor before heading back across farm fields to Hathersage, where a trip to Coleman’s Deli is highly recommended!

Athena says: “This is a lovely walk to enjoy on a sunny, spring day. It takes in three really well-known parts of the Peak District, but linking them with this walk means you find yourself a little more off-the-beaten-track.”

Walk 4: A Reservoir Round


A walk along Derwent Edge offers some of the best views in the Peak District, in a somewhat lesser- known location than Kinder Scout and the Hope Valley. Derwent Edge is a wide vast moor with a number of tors that make excellent targets for a day out walking. This particular hike takes you from Ladybower Reservoir at Ashopton Viaduct onto Derwent Edge, first passing Whinstone Lee Tor and then heading towards the iconic Wheelstones on Derwent Edge. Take in the beautiful views from Dovestone Tor and Back Tor, then begin heading down past Lost Lad End to Derwent Reservoir. Follow the reservoir back to your starting point for a brilliant 13km hike in the hills.

Athena says: “When I first headed onto Derwent Edge I was blown away by its vast views, and how lovely and quiet the trails were. This is my go-to walk if I’m after a little peace and quiet in a stunning location.”

Parkhouse Hill and Chrome Hill. Photo: Athena Mellor.
Kinder Scout. Photo: Athena Mellor
Stanage Edge. Photo: Athena Mellor

Walk 5: The Best View In The Peak?


There aren’t actually a lot of ‘hills’ in the Peak District, with many hillwalks leading onto moors and plateaus. Win Hill makes for a fairly short but strenuous hike onto a well-defined hill, that is easily recognisable when seen on the horizon from many other parts of the Peak District! Views from the summit look to Ladybower and Derwent Reservoir, Mam Tor, Bamford Edge and its neighbouring Lose Hill. The story goes that the names Win Hill & Lose Hill derive from a 7th century battle, but there is no historical evidence to suggest that this is fact… it makes a good story anyhow, and a hike up Win Hill from Hope feels like a small victory in many ways. Make sure you head to the Grasshopper Cafe on your return for the best coffee and cake in the Peak District!

Athena says: “This is such a lovely and fairly short hike to enjoy on a summer’s afternoon or a winter’s morning. The highlight of course being the stunning views and the coffee and cake on your return!”

Walk 6: The Forest Walk

Padley Gorge has to be one of the most beautiful woodlands you’ll find in this national park. Situated above the villages of Padley and Grindleford, inside the forest you will find twisting oak, mossy boulders, lofty pines, and the odd abandoned millstone. Autumn in the forest sees an explosion of vibrant oranges and reds and is certainly the best time of year to enjoy a walk. That or springtime when the bluebells appear all over the forest floor. Take an easy circular walk through the woods from Grindleford Station and up to the lovely little viewpoint of Owler Tor, then return through the woods along the babbling brook and treat yourself to a pile of chips from the Station Cafe.

Athena says: “I love heading into Padley Gorge because it really feels so full of life – listening to the plunging waterfalls, rustling leafs and birdlife. It’s also a great place to head when it’s really windy or rainy in the Peak District as the forest is relatively sheltered. Grindleford Station Cafe is a quirky spot to head on your return.”

Walk 7: Two Mini Mountains


These iconic hills can be enjoyed over a moderate 10km ridge walk from the village of Earl Sterndale, just outside Buxton. Remnants of what once was a coral reef, the hills seem to protrude out of the earth like two hump-back whales, surrounded by the rolling farm fields of the White Peak. Step back in time by heading to the traditional Quiet Woman pub in the village when you return.

Athena says: “These two hills benefit from some glorious views from a quiet, country village. Their unique figures make them a must-do hike when in the Peak District.”

Walk 8: Three Counties In One Day


The bridge at Three Shires Head marks the meeting of three counties; Cheshire, Derbyshire & Staffordshire. This 5 mile walk takes you up a lovely wooded clough then across farm fields before meeting the River Dane and following it until you reach the stone bridge, a popular swim and picnic spot in the summer. Return via the old packhorse route with glorious views all the way home.

Athena says: “This is a fairly gentle but really enjoyable walk in the White Peak. I look forward to heading back here in the summer to swim!”

Walk 9: The Roaches


A lovely circular walk that takes you along the gritstone escarpment of The Roaches and into the deep chasm of Lud’s Church, surrounded by wooded trails. This walk offers a variety of terrain and is brilliant at all times of year. In the summer, The Roaches are covered in a blanket of rich purple heather and Lud’s Church thrives with life; while the winter might see the top of the ridge obscured by an eerie cloud and the woodland a welcome shelter from the tumultuous weather. With woodland, a ridgeline and wide views, this walk is one of the best in the Peak District.

Athena says: “The Roaches has a very wild feel about it, despite being a well-known and popular spot. This walk is varied and offers beautiful views, one I will continue to enjoy again and again. Look out for the ice cream van at the northern end of the Roaches! I’m pretty sure he’s there all year round.”

Walk 10: One That Has It All


While most don’t venture further than the Dovedale Stepping Stones, I’d recommend combining a walk through lovely Dovedale from Ilam Hall with a climb up Thorpe Cloud. Views from the summit look across to St. Peter’s Church at Alstonefield to the North, and back down to Ilam Hall in the west. Continue through the limestone gorge of Dovedale, a National Nature Reserve that offers a sense of wilderness within quiet countryside. Return by heading steeply up the woodland and along the top of the woods, then back to Ilam across farm fields.

Athena says: “It’s great to get off the beaten track by heading up Thorpe Cloud from popular Dovedale, but the valley itself also shouldn’t be missed. Look out for a number of interesting rock formations on the cliffs above as you walk along the River Dove.”

@athenamellor

 

Note: Some of these walks are in challenging, wild terrain where a good level of fitness will be required. Only undertake them if you are able to navigate safely and have the appropriate outdoor clothing and equipment.

 

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