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On the Edge at Stanage

Skirting the gritstone cliffs which line Sheffield's moorland edge.

Distance 9 miles (14.5km)

Minimum time 5hrs 30min

Ascent/gradient 1,150ft (350m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Well-defined paths and tracks, a few stiles

Landscape Gritstone and heather moorland

Suggested map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 1 Dark Peak

Start/finish SK 232814

Dog friendliness Dogs should be kept on leads

Parking Hathersage car park

Public toilets At car park, and on lane above North Lees

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1 From the car park in Hathersage, head up Oddfellows Road to Main Road. Continue up Baulk Lane, which begins on the opposite side of the road by the Hathersage Inn. The lane climbs steadily north, passing the cricket ground. Beyond the buildings it becomes an unsurfaced track.

2 Just short of Cowclose Farm take the signposted left fork, which passes to the right of Brookfield Manor to reach a country lane. Turn right here, then left along a drive to North Lees Hall. After rounding the hall, turn right, climbing some steps that cut the corner to another track. This crosses hillside pastures before continuing through attractive mixed woodland.

3 A stepped path on the left makes a short cut to a roadside toilet block and mountain rescue post. Turn left along the road for a short distance, then right on a grassy path heading for the rocks of Stanage Edge. After 200yds (183m) you join the path from the nearby car park. A paved path now climbs through Stanage Plantation before arcing left to the cliff top.

4 Follow the firm edge path north-westwards (right) to see the summit of High Neb and Crow Chin.

5 When you reach Crow Chin, where the edge veers north, descend to a lower path that doubles back beneath the cliffs. This eventually joins a track from the right, which returns the route to the top of the cliffs. Continue walking towards the south east along the edge to the bouldery east summit (marked on OS maps by a spot height of 457m), whose rocks are capped by a concrete trig point.

6 The track continues to the road at Upper Burbage Bridge. Proceed left along the road for about 150yds (137m), then turn right taking the the higher of the two paths which head south to the summit of Higger Tor.

7 From the rocky top, double back (roughly north of north west) on a path to the Fiddler's Elbow road. Slightly uphill along the road take the path on the left. This descends Callow Bank to a walled track leading down to the Dale Bottom road. Follow the road for 300yds (274m) to a track on the right that traverses the hillslopes to Toothill Farm. Turn left by the farmhouse on a drive that soon joins a tarred lane taking the route down to Hathersage's impressively spired church and the Roman fort of Camp Green.

8 Turn right down School Lane to reach Main Road, which leads into the centre of Hathersage. Go left down Oddfellows Road to return to the car park.

From Moscar to Baslow a line of dark dramatic cliffs cap the heather moors east of the Derwent Valley. Defoe, ever the scourge of mountain scenery, called it a vast extended moor or waste in which strangers would be obliged to take guides or lose their way. Later Emily Brontë came here to visit her friend Ellen Nussey, the wife of the local vicar. Emily would have found the place much more acceptable, and not unlike her home at Haworth.

In the 1890s, the climber, JW Putrell turned to the highest of these cliffs, Stanage Edge, and pioneered several gully routes. Others would follow and today Stanage and its neighbouring 'edges' are one of the most popular climbing venues in Britain.

But Stanage is a great place for walkers too, for they can stride out on firm skyline paths with Yorkshire on one side and Derbyshire on the other. High car parks mean that you can walk Stanage without much ascent, but it's more rewarding to work for your fun, so we'll start the route at Hathersage.

Hathersage is a neat village by the banks of the River Derwent. The route starts gently on Baulk Lane and passes the cricket ground on its way through the little valley of Hood Brook. Gradients steepen and the route comes across the 16th-century castellated manor of North Lees Hall, the inspiration for Thornfield Hall, Mr Rochester's home in Jane Eyre. The Eyre family did exist in real life. They were Roman Catholics who lived in the hall until the 17th-century, when a narrow-minded Protestant community drove them out. The remains of a chapel, built in 1685, only to be destroyed three years later, can still be seen in the grounds.

Above the hall the route climbs onto the moors and a paved causey track known as Jacob's Ladder takes it to the top of the cliffs. The cliff-edge path to High Neb and Crow Chin is a delight, and the views from it are extensive, taking in a good deal of the Derwent and Hope Valleys, Mam Tor and Kinder Scout.

It may seem strange to descend to the foot of the cliffs, but the lost height doesn't amount to much and you can now view them from the perspective of the climber.

After rejoining the edge, the path passes above Robin Hood's Cave, where the legendary outlaw perhaps hid from the Sheriff of Nottingham, to reach the high road and climbers' car park. Now there's just Higger Tor to do. The rocky knoll surrounded by an ocean of heather makes a fine finale, one last lofty perch before the descent back to Hathersage.

While you're there

Take a look round the parish Church of St Michael, which you pass on the hillsides above the village. It dates back to the 14th century, though the Perpendicular tower and its spire are a hundred years younger. The stained-glass east window comes from the doomed church of Derwent before it was submerged beneath the rising waters of Ladybower Reservoir. In the churchyard a particularly long grave is claimed to be that of Robin Hood's henchman, Little John.

What to look for

Beneath the cliffs of Stanage Edge you'll see piles of old millstones and grindstones, some intact, and some incomplete. They are the abandoned relics of an industry that supplied the flourishing steelworks of Sheffield and local cornmills. French imports, which were both cheaper and better, and the coming of the roller mills saw the decline of the industry by the 1860s.

Where to eat and drink

The Scotsman's Pack, on School Lane, Hathersage, is an old coaching inn serving Burtonwood beers and excellent bar meals. It has an open fire and a no-smoking area. There's often a snack van on the car park at Upper Burbage Bridge.

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