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Walking In Peak District - 2 experiences

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Peak District

Because of its central geographical location, the Peak District is one of the most accessible places to head to for an outdoor adventure in the UK, and perhaps why in 1951 it was named the first National Park in Britain. In the five hundred and fifty plus square miles it encompasses, there's no shortage of opportunities to practice all sorts of outdoor activities, with walking being one of the most popular.
Famous for its limestone crags like High Tor and Windgather Rocks, and Gritstone climbs, the Peak's also attracts climbers, abseilers and boulderers of all levels to test their skills on the hundreds of climbing routes throughout the district. As beautiful below ground as it is above, the Peak District is also a popular spot for caving with Speedwell Caverns being a great starting place for novices to the sport. The River Derwent, among others, is a magnet for watersports enthusiasts who want to participate in canoeing, kayaking or rafting and has several excellent spots for wild swimming.
Best Peak District Walks
The Peak District is twice as long as it is wide, stretching all the way from Huddersfield in the north to Derby at its southern tip. Covering this kind of distance means the topography changes considerably within the park, and is broadly split into the White Peak area to the south, and the Dark Peak to the north. The White Peak area is characterised by pastoral countryside criss-crossed with dry stone walls. ‘Secret’ valleys are scattered throughout, seeming to catch visitors unawares as they cut sharply into the surrounding landscape, often with wooded valleys to mask their presence even more. The Dark Peak on the other hand is a much more rugged landscape of open moorland. This area rests on gritstone providing some of the climbing opportunities mentioned above, and also providing other visitors with some of the area’s most striking features.

Walking In Peak District

There is a wealth of stunning walking available, with guided hikes in plentiful supply to help you make the most of the area. Kinder Scout, Jacob’s Ladder, Mam Tor, Dovedale, The Roaches, Stanage Edge..the list goes on of breathtaking places to hike here. Pick from full on days up and down the hills, or more gentle strolls alongside rivers in their steep-sided valleys. It’s a varied and fascinating landscape, and one which changes with the seasons too, giving keen walkers reason to come back again and again. Two of our favourite times to visit are the Roaches on a glorious summer’s day, and a moody autumnal late afternoon hike on Mam Tor, before a rewarding tea and cake (or stronger) back in Castleton. Whatever your preference and fitness there’s bound to be something perfect for you here.

Walking in the Roaches

This is a popular destination, lying as it does towards the south western edge near Leek, and very accessible for anyone coming from the West Midlands. The Roaches are the western finger of gritstone that make it such a great climbing destination, but also a spectacular ridge for walking with amazing views of the surrounding lowlands of Staffordshire and Cheshire. The rocks themselves are an interesting feature (and fun for the children to climb onto), and the ridge extends for a few miles before the views change completely as you enter Forest Wood, The greatest surprise of the hike awaits you here in the form of Lud’s Church, , a deep and secluded moss-covered chasm with links to medieval religious heresy! Do also keep an eye out for Doxey Pool on the ridge top. Legend has it a lady by the name of Jenny Greenteeth fell in there one foggy day and now, as a mermaid, pulls in unsuspecting passers-by!
Walking in The Peak District, Roaches

Walking in Castleton

At the head of the Hope Valley, Castleton has some fantastic walking ‘from the door’, with Mam Tor being the first place you’d look. For a brilliant approximately 10km walk head out of Castleton via the ruins of Peveril Castle and up Cave Dale. It’s an intriguing first section of the walk and you can well imagine an old medieval ambush and battles taking place here. Once up and out of the valley you’ll head across some farmland before seeing Mam Tor ahead of you, which you access via the head of Winnat’s Pass, a famous cycling destination. The views from the top and the ensuing ridge walk are spectacular and far-reaching, with Kinder Scout to the north and Peveril Castle to the east just above Castleton. Descend back to the town as the light starts to go for an atmospheric end to the day, to be rewarded with a stop at one of the many tea-rooms or pubs!

Walking in Edale

Edale may be small in stature itself, but the surrounding countryside is anything but, being one end of the Pennine Way. Kinder Scout lies just to the northeast lies the expanse of Kinder Scout - a fairly featureless plateau interspersed with deep gullies known as groughs. It makes for a great sense of wilderness however, and skirting the edge of the Kinder Scout makes for some stunning views and some interesting features along the way. The head of Crowden Brook with it’s little waterfalls is pretty, whilst nearby lies Crowden Tower (a large rock buttress), and the unusual rock formations of the Wool Packs and Pym Chair. Descend via Jacob’s Ladder, once a major packhorse route.
Walking in Peak District

Walking in Last of the Summer Wine country

For those who remember the tv programme ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ fondly, then Holmfirth is the place to go. The series was based here, and the idyllic setting can be explored with a short but hilly 4 mile hike around the town. The home of loveable characters Compo and Clegg, you can wander past Nora Batty’s house and Sid’s Cafe, and enjoy great views of the steep hills that encircle the town. It’s a glorious setting that will make you feel just a little bit nostalgic too.

Walking in the Peak District ‘Dales’

Using Tideswell as a base you can explore 5 different dales on an approximately 6 mile walk, which is also relatively flat as you can mainly follow the dales if you choose.The dales are Tansley, Cressbrook, Water-cum-Jolly, Miller’s and Tideswell, each with it’s own unique feel. Tideswell is a very vibrant village, with an impressive church known as the ‘Cathedral of the Peak’, indicating the prosperous past the village enjoyed in the MIddle Ages. The dales offer a great sense of peace and tranquility - something that feels totally cut off from anywhere else, just a lovely river, hidden from the rest of the world by the steep cliffs and valleys either side. It’s a striking contrast to the rest of the Peak District, where the views are impressive for being far-reaching, Here you look more closely at what’s immediately around you, and its no less impressive for it.
Walking in Peak District with families

Walking in Dovedale

Another dale, and this one gets to feature on its own, and rightly so. Dovedale is perhaps the most well known of the Peak District dales, and as such can get very busy in peak periods, so choose a quite time to come and you won’t regret it! Carved from the limestone rocks by the river Dove over millions of years, the dale itself is just over 3 miles long, running from Milldale in the north to a wooded ravine near Bunster Hill in the south. It has a very well-known set of stepping stones across the river at the Bunster Hill end, which make a great incentive and attraction for families. The cliffside is often frequented by rockclimbers, and notable features include Lovers Leap, the rock pillars of Ilam’s Rock, and the pretty Viator’s Bridge. And don’t just take our word for it. It’s also been widely praised by famous poets and authors of the past, including Samuel Johnstone, Lord Tennyson, Lord Byron and John Ruskin, as well as featuring in the BBC’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and the films ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and Ridley Scott’s ‘Robin Hood’. For a longer walk, skirt the dale and head out along the River Manifold to Milldale via Castern Hill and then back along the dale to make a great 8 mile round trip.

Walking in Hathersage

Hathersage is a vibrant village with several great pubs and outdoors shops, perhaps due to it’s proximity to Sheffield, but perhaps even more so for it’s proximity to one of the most popular climbing locations in the country, Stanage Edge. It is a spectacular gritstone edge running for approximately 3 miles from the Cowper Stone at it’s southern end to Stanage End. Whilst the exposed rock is only up to about 25 m in height, the whole ridge sits high above the surrounding countryside, making it a prominent feature of the landscape and affording superb views right the way along the ridge. The walk up to it from Hathersage is a pleasant one too, through a peaceful valley and climbing slowly but surely upwards, at times through woodland, glimpsing the ridge every now and again on the way. Once on the ridge you’ll notice the remains of a paved packhorse road that use to run along the top of it. Whatever the weather, it can get breezy along the top of the ridge, so take a spare layer just in case!
Walking in Peak District monsal

Walking in Macclesfield, the ‘Cheshire Matterhorn’!

Sitting on the western edge of the Peak District and overlooking the Cheshire Plain, it’s easy to see why Shutlingsloe is often referred to as the ‘Cheshire Matterhorn’. Despite the rather large height difference, with Shutlingsloe rising to only just over 500m, the resemblance is in its abrupt and distinctive peak. The other obvious benefit of such a peak overlooking a plain is that the view are stunning from the summit. Macclesfield Forest borders the peak to the north east and makes for an interesting change of scenery for walkers, with a history as a large royal hunting from the Middle Ages.

Walking the Pennine Divide

If you like a bit of history to accompany your walk, then look no further than the northern edge of the Peak District National Park. Explore the Pennine Divide with a walk between Marsden in Yorkshire and Uppermill in Greater Manchester, from the White camp and Red camp respectively during the Wars of the Roses. It’s a scenic walk in it’s own right over Saddleworth Moor, and features gritstone edge together with great echoes of its industrial past and good train links between the two for a superb A-B walk.
national parks walks near me

What to Wear for Hiking?

Getting the right hill walking equipment can be the difference between a fantastic day out and 50 shades of grim, or in a worst scenario an embarrassing call to mountain rescue. So what is essential walking kit? This differs based on where you’re going hill walking and what the weather is.
The climate can change very quickly in the UK, so essential walking clothing will protect you for all weathers. As one of the main hill-walking legends himself put it “There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”, Alfred Wainwright. Make sure you’ve got full body waterproofs, both a jacket and trousers. Take a carrier bag to waterproof out your bag. And add a carrier bag to protect essential items like your phone. Make sure you're wearing appropriate footwear for the terrain. And don’t underestimate how much of a beating they can take climbing hills, especially with rocks or scrambling. Bring spare warm layers such as a hat, gloves, neck scarf and spare fleece and warm clothes (enough to make you feel warm when not on the move).
forest walks near me

What to Pack for Hiking or Long Walks?

Depending on the conditions of your walk you’ll need to pack differently. If you’re going on a route that’s not well marked make sure you have the means to navigate.
  • Navigation tools: a map with a compass (even if it’s a backup to your digital tools), for the worst case scenario of the digital navigation tools running out of battery.
  • Mobile phone: fully charged. Don’t rinse through the battery using instagram in case you need to call for emergencies.
  • Take a good backpack, preferably with a built in hydration system so you can constantly take on water as you move, making it easier to stay hydrated throughout the day.

For Long Distance or Mountain Walks:
  • First Aid Kit and Medicines: very important if going up particularly challenging terrain
  • Head touch and spare batteries: In case it gets dark due to the sun setting or a storm setting in, a head torch can be very useful, if not vital.
  • Group Shelter: can be used to set up quick camp, in the case of an almost immediate storm, should you wish to shelter temporarily.
  • A whistle: In case fog sets in and you need to help others find you.

For Winter Mountaineering:
  • Crampons and Ice axe: for winter mountaineering, the use of crampons to get grip on snow and ice, and ice axes to aid with grip can be used. It’s essential to practice using these before going on a mountaineering expedition as they can take some getting used to.
  • Walking poles: Not always essential, but can be used to take weight off your feet and ease impact on your knees and hips. They can help with keeping good posture and can make it easier to walk if used correctly.
  • Belay device, harness and ropes: If going up particularly challenging, steep areas or ridges with big drop-offs, sometimes the use of ropes can aid safety in the case of an accidental fall. If climbing, these are essential pieces of kit.
Peak District

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