In January of 2018 Alex and myself met with some friends at Hope car park in the Peak District at seven in the morning. We had been invited to join them on a twenty mile walk along the Vale of Edale skyline. As the cars rolled into the car park a mixed bunch of ability and capability assembled together laughing and joking about the walk that lay ahead, looking up at the white snow capped peaks it did not look like it was going to be an easy walk.
That turned out to be more than true. By the time we had reached Crookstone Out Moor it was almost a total white out and some of out crew had already dropped out of the walk. Most of us pressed on through knee deep snow with hardly any visibility for a few more hours but by the time we reached Grindsbrook Clough we had had enough, and it was obvious that we were not going to complete our walk. On the way down from the ridge to Edale Alex said he would like to do the walk again sometime and we agreed that we would come back another day when the weather was more favourable.
Our second attempt on a much better day
We were back in June this time it, Alex, myself and a friend of Alex’s Dan. The weather was much more favourable, it was tee shirt weather a mixture of sun and cloud with a slight breeze – perfect.
We walked the circular route in an anticlockwise direction. So starting again from the village of Hope we took the little road north out of the village that leads to a path climbing up to Win Hill. I love Win Hill it has such great views, from the top I could see much of the Dark Peak region that I am familiar with. It was like looking at a 3D map which made all the different parts I know fall into place.
From Win Hill it is a nice gentle start along the old Roman Road heading north. On our right were the trees that hide Ladybower Reservoir and to our left the view of the Vale of Edale slowly emerged showing us the walk that lay ahead. The track was easy to follow until we reached Hope Cross. From here we needed to make our way up to the eastern ridge of Kinder Scout. There was a path from Hope Cross but it soon disappeared into the grass of the meadows, so we had to do our best to work out the path across Crookstone Out Moor aiming roughly for Crookstone Knoll.
The southern ridge of Kinder Scout
Walking along the southern rim of Kinder Scout is probably the toughest part of the walk. The path is very uneven and windy and although there is no great height gain or loss it can be pretty tiring. Its ruggedness is very inspiring and there are some magnificent Gritstone formations along its edge, climaxing with the well known Wool Pack. We looked directly down into the Vale along this stretch, it looked very peaceful and green except for the occasional train that ran right through the middle.
Our westward path finished at Edale Rock on the Pennine Way pathway. Here was a convenient spot to stop and have our lunch. My feet were beginning to feel it a bit now so it was great to take off my Walking shoes and let them air. As we were tucking into our sarnies I watched people making their way up Jacob’s Ladder some with large rucksacks obviously doing the Pennine Way. It brought back good memories of my trek along that trail a couple of years ago.
Our walk now took us south across Brown Knoll which is very different from the rugged slopes of Kinder Scout. The landscape is far more rolling and covered with cotton grass which was in flower and looked quite enchanting. There is now a flagstone path across the peaty moorland which made the going much easier than it was the last time I did it. The path felt very exposed and wild I think it could be very testing on a cold and windy day.
It was not long before we had reached the fourth and last stretch of our walk which heads east starting at Rushup Edge. This is probably one of the best known parts of the Dark Peaks it is very accessible and in the summer there are a lot of people along this ridge walk.
From Mam Tor to Lose Hill
This section is again different from the other ones. I think part of the attraction of this walk is its variety of terrain. The path is easy walking but there are more climbs and descents, not massive ones but by now Dan was beginning to feel it and it was not the easy finish that perhaps he would have liked.
Mam Tor is a great spot to stop and survey the land. Like Win Hill it offers massive views and standing on top of the Tor I had a very gratifying feeling of achievement even though there were still some miles to go. From Mam Tor to Lose Hill it is an ‘airy’ walk along the ridge which gave me an immense sense of freedom and apart from slightly sore feet I felt on top of the world.
The final little challenge before reaching Lose Hill was Back Tor, a short uphill scramble that gave the walk it’s final edge, it was like the final sprint on a long distance run. Finally we stood on Lose Hill the end of the skyline walk, we had done it! It was a special feeling standing on the top congratulating ourselves on a really enjoyable and fulfilling walk. All that was left was to follow the path back down to Hope Village with a stop at The Cheshire Cheese Inn for a celebratory drink on the way.