Dark Peak Walks
40 walks exploring the Peak District gritstone and moorland landscapes
By Paul Besley
Guidebook to 40 walks in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park. 35 circular routes for most abilities, from 8km to 19km, around Edale, Marsden, Fairholmes, Baslow and Castleton, including Kinder Scout and Mam Tor, and 5 longer (25km to 45km) routes highlighting the best of the Gritstone Edges, High Moorland and Deep Valleys.
SeasonsThe high moorlands in winter and summer; the gritstone edges in spring and summer; the valleys in autumn; the cloughs in spring
CentresHathersage, Grindleford, Langsett, Marsden, Dove Stones, Edale, Upper Derwent Valley, Castleton, Greenfield, Chatsworth, Sheffield, Hayfield, Crowden, Hope, Dunford Bridge
DifficultyWalking in the Dark Peak requires good navigational skills, especially in winter, and a good level of hillcraft. Having the correct equipment and clothing and knowing how to use it is paramount when venturing out onto the high moors.
Must SeeKinder Scout, the highest point in the Peak District; Bleaklow, the second highest; Howden and Derwent Edges; Black Hill and the Wessenden Moors; the gritstone edges of Derwent, Bamford, Stanage, Burbage, Froggatt, Curbar, Birchen, Gardoms and the Roaches; the Eastern Moors; the Goyt Valley, Shutlingsloe and Wildboarclough
Located in the Peak District and distinguished from the neighbouring White Peak by the layer of gritstone which covers its limestone bed, the Dark Peak features a wild landscape of sweeping moorland and big skies. Easily accessible from Sheffield, it boasts a wealth of natural, geological, historical and cultural interest – and some great walking.
This guidebook describes 40 walks in the Dark Peak. Ranging from short strolls to full-day adventures, they showcase the region's unique character. Dramatic waterfalls, striking gritstone edges, heath and woodland are just some of the delights encountered, with many of the routes venturing off-path to explore hidden cloughs and valleys. Detailed route description is provided for 35 walks, accompanied by 1:50,000 OS mapping and interesting facts about local points of interest, then a further five longer walks (of 25-45km) are summarised in the final section, including a classic circuit of the Kinder Scout skyline.
Taking in the high moors of Derwent, Bleaklow, Kinder and Howden, the walks reveal not only the area's wild beauty but also some of its fascinating stories. 10,000 years of history lie waiting to be uncovered – from Neolithic burial mounds and Bronze Age cairns to remnants of the region's more recent industrial past. This guide is a perfect companion to discovering the secrets of the Dark Peak and experiencing its magnificent landscape in all its glory.
Plants and wildlife
Local services and transport
Maps and navigation
Using this guide
Eastern Dark Peak
Walk 1 Chatsworth to Birchen Edge
Walk 2 Longshaw Estate and the gritstone edges
Walk 3 Fox House to Big Moor
Walk 4 Fox House to Stanedge Pole
Walk 5 Grindleford to Higger Tor
Central Dark Peak
Walk 6 Hathersage to Stanage Edge
Walk 7 Wyming Brook to Stanage Edge
Walk 8 Bamford Moor
Walk 9 Win Hill to Hope Cross
Walk 10 Kings Tree to Shepherds Meeting Stones
Walk 11 Westend and Bleaklow Stones
Walk 12 Derwent Edge
Walk 13 Alport Castles and the Woodlands Valley
Walk 14 Margery Hill to Back Tor
Walk 15 Low Bradfield and Dale Dyke
Walk 16 Langsett to Howden Edge
Walk 17 Langsett to Pike Lowe
Walk 18 Torside to Bleaklow Head
Walk 19 Wildboar Clough to Lawrence Edge
Walk 20 Old Glossop to Bleaklow Head
Walk 21 Kinder Scout Northern Edge
Walk 22 Kinder Scout Western Edge
Walk 23 Kinder Scout
Walk 24 Kinder Scout Southern Edge
Walk 25 The Great Ridge
Northern Dark Peak
Walk 26 Dunford Bridge to Ramsden Clough
Walk 27 Crowden Horseshoe
Walk 28 Crowden to Chew Valley
Walk 29 Marsden to Black Hill
Walk 30 Alphin Pike to Birchen Clough
Walk 31 Binn Green to Great Dove Stone Rock
Walk 32 Cotton Famine Road
Western Dark Peak
Walk 33 Goyt Valley to Shining Tor
Walk 34 Derbyshire Bridge to Shutlingsloe
Walk 35 The Roaches
Long day walks
Walk 36 Marsden to Edale
Walk 37 Langsett to Edale
Walk 38 Gritstone edges
Walk 39 Edale Horseshoe
Walk 40 Kinder Scout skyline
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Useful information
Appendix C Aircraft crash site locations
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Paul Besley clearly knows this area of the Peak District well.
Paul Besley clearly knows this area of the Peak District well. He is a volunteer Ranger for the Peak District National Park and a member of Woodhead Mountain Rescue. I have always found Cicerone guidebooks to be well produced with excellent introductions to the area in question and containing detailed descriptions of well-chosen walks. This new guide is no exception.
I did the walk from Old Glossop to Bleaklow Head with a couple of friends to test out the guide, as this was a new route to me. It was an interesting walk taking in Cock Hill, Clough Edge, Torside Clough, Bleaklow Head, Wain Stones, Hern Stones, the B29 aircraft wreck, Higher Shelf Stones, and James’s Thorn. The route information was clear, with helpful compass directions where necessary. As the author says, it is always useful to carry the OS Explorer Dark Peak Map OS1 with you when walking in this part of the world. If you have a GPS enabled device to navigate, GPX files are available for free download via a link in the book.
My previous Cicerone guide to this area was ‘High Peak Walks’ by Mark Richards, first published in 1982. This was a Wainwright-style book, with hand-drawn maps and illustrations and thus had lots of detail that the new book lacks. However, the new guide has almost twice as many walks in about the same number of pages and, as I’ve indicated, contains sufficient detail to find one’s way – the key requirement of any guidebook. The new book also has the advantage of being completely up-to-date in terms of route finding and promises to provide many more pleasurable days if the Bleaklow walk is anything to go by. I look forward to taking it with me on future excursions in the Dark Peak.
This review is from Signpost 54, Summer 2017
Paul Besley clearly knows this area of the Peak District well.
I have always found Cicerone guidebooks to be well produced with excellent introductions to the area in question and containing detailed descriptions of well-chosen walks. This new guide is no exception.
The new guide has almost twice as many walks in about the same number of pages [as the previous edition] and, as I’ve indicated, contains sufficient detail to find one’s way – the key requirement of any guidebook. The new book also has the advantage of being completely up to date in terms of route finding and it promises to provide for many more pleasurable days. I look forward to taking it with me on future excursions in the Dark Peak.
Ian Salvage, Peak District National Park magazine
An excellent guide
The beauty of the gritstone Dark Peak is a distinct magnet to walkers...
As you would expect from Cicerone, each walk is clearly detailed including distance, terrain and local points of interest. Some walks are easy, some more challenging, providing a range of difficulties for all.
Treading these you will be able to feast on the areas dramatic scenery varying as it does with the seasons, catch a glimpse of man's footprint from archaeological sites to sadly derelict industrial remains from not so long ago and discover some fascinating local stories. This is an excellent guide, illustrated in colour with OS extract maps of the walks it contains.
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Paul Besley is a volunteer Ranger for the Peak District National Park and a member of Woodhead Mountain Rescue, an informative walking guide and writer. He first went walking in the Dark Peak when he was 14 years old and a love of the high moors and gritstone edges was born. Over the following years he has explored the area, walking its moorlands, investigating hidden cloughs, expanding his knowledge and experience. His Ranger base is in the Upper Derwent Valley, just a few minutes from his home in Sheffield.View Articles and Books by Paul Besley