One end of the famous long distance trail ascends to the craggy outcrops of the Kinder Plateau.
Distance 5 miles (8km)
Minimum time 3hrs
Ascent/gradient 1,650ft (500m)
Level of difficulty Medium
Paths Rock and peat paths
Landscape Heather moor
Suggested map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 1 Dark Peak
Start/finish SK 125853
Dog friendliness Walk is on farmland and access agreement land. Dogs should be kept on leads.
Parking Edale pay car park
Public toilets At car park
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1 Turn right out of the car park and head north into Edale (the village), under the railway and past the Old Nags Head pub. Turn right by a footpath signpost and follow the path across the footbridge over Grinds Brook.
2 Leave the main Grindsbrook Clough path by the side of a small barn, taking the right fork that climbs up the lower hillslope to a stile on the edge of open country. Beyond the stile the path zig-zags above Fred Herdman's Plantation then climbs up the nose of the Nab to the skyline rocks. Where the path divides, take the right fork, which leads you to the summit of Ringing Roger.
3 Follow the edge path left, rounding the cavernous hollow of Grindsbrook past Nether Tor. The old Pennine Way route is met on the east side, at a place marked by a large cairn.
4 Ignoring the left fork heading for the outlier of Grindslow Knoll, follow the well-worn footpath westwards to the head of another deep hollow, the clough of Crowden Brook.
5 Cross Crowden Brook, then leave the edge to follow a narrow level path traversing slopes on the left beneath the imposing outcrop of Crowden Tower. This meets a path from the Tower before descending the steep grassy hillslopes to the banks of the brook. The path now follows the brook, fording it on several occasions.
6 Go through the gate at the edge of open country, then cross a footbridge shaded by tall rowans to change to the west bank. From here the path threads through woodland before descending in steps to the road at Upper Booth. You now need to follow the Pennine Way path back to Edale.
7 Turn left along the road and left again into the farmyard before crossing a stile at the top right corner. After following a track to a gateway, bear left uphill to a stile by an old barn. Here the Way traverses fields at the foot of Broadlee Bank before joining a tree-lined track into the village. Turn right along the road back to the car park.
Edale sits peacefully in a paradise of pasture, riverside meadow and hedgerow, surrounded by high peaks. It's church spire towers above the cottages and farmhouses of its five scattered booths, but is in turn dwarfed by the castellated crags of Kinder Scout, and the rounded hills of the Mam Tor ridge.
In depression torn 1930s England, Tom Stephenson, then secretary of the Ramblers' Association told the readers of the Daily Herald of his dream - to create a long, green trail across the roof of England. This dream would bring Edale to the world's attention. It took 30 years, a mass trespass and Acts of Parliament to achieve, but in 1965, the Pennine Way was opened. Spanning over 250 miles (405km) from Edale to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland it was Britain's first official long distance trail. Go to Edale any Friday night and you'll see eager-eyed Pennine Wayfarers. They'll be in the campsite making their last minute preparations, or in the Old Nags Head poring over Ordnance Survey maps or looking though Wainwright's little green guidebook.
Unfortunately the popularity of the Way has led to the main route through Grindsbrook being diverted along the foul weather route up Jacob's Ladder. But as you leave Edale, or to be more strictly correct Grindsbrook Booth (Edale is the name of the valley), you can look across to the old route, which delves deep into the rocky ravine. Your route climbs boldly to the top of Ringing Roger (the echoing rocks). From this great viewpoint you can look down on the length of Edale and across to the great Lose Hill-Mam Tor ridge.
What follows is an edge walk round the great chasm of Grindsbrook, taking you past Nether Tor to the place where the old Pennine Way track comes to meet you. The Way didn't bother with the comforts of the edge, but got stuck into those peat hags to the right. It was a stiff navigational challenge to get to the Kinder Downfall on the other side of the expansive plateau. Past weather-smoothed gritstone sculptures and the rocky peak of Grindslow Knoll you come to another ravine, that of Crowden Brook. This route descends by the brook, passing several waterfalls and offering many chances for a paddle to cool those feet. Beneath the open fell the path seeks the shade of recently planted pine, larch, birch and oak. Colourful wildflowers, including bluebells, daffodils and primroses, proliferate in this delightful spot, just above Upper Booth. Finally you're reacquainted with the Pennine Way, following the new route back across the fields of Edale.
You walk along the edge of Kinder Scout's summit peat bogs. Peat was formed by mosses such as the bright green sphagnum moss you'll see on wet patches. The moss cover is now restricted to small patches. It has been replaced by sedges, grasses, heather and bilberry in a vegetation cover riven by deep and numerous hags in which the naked peat comes to the surface. The base of the hag has often been eroded to the gravelly surface of the core rocks. There are many reasons for this. The chief factors have been sheep grazing and the industrial pollution of the last century, which has killed the bog-forming mosses thus breaking the chain which held them together.
The Old Nags Head, or the Ramblers' Inn at Edale both serve good bar meals. There's also a snack bar type café in an old railway carriage by the railway station.