Dark Peak Walks

40 walks exploring the Peak District gritstone and moorland landscapes

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3 Mar 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm

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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.

Seasons Seasons
The high moorlands in winter and summer; the gritstone edges in spring and summer; the valleys in autumn; the cloughs in spring
Centres Centres
Hathersage, Grindleford, Langsett, Marsden, Dove Stones, Edale, Upper Derwent Valley, Castleton, Greenfield, Chatsworth, Sheffield, Hayfield, Crowden, Hope, Dunford Bridge
Difficulty Difficulty
Walking 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 See Must See
Kinder 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
3 Mar 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
  • Overview

    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.

  • Contents

    Plants and wildlife
    The future
    Local services and transport
    The walks
    Responsible walking
    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

  • Maps
    Maps and navigation

    All walks have been plotted using Ordnance Survey online mapping tools. The main paper maps for the area are the OS Explorer Dark Peak OL1 and White Peak OL24. Harvey and the BMC Dark Peak maps are also useful. Always take a map and compass, even if you are using a GPS device.

    A word of caution: do not underestimate the area. Walking on the high moors – Bleaklow, Kinder Scout, Derwent and Howden – requires excellent navigation skills, especially in winter. It also requires good equipment and a knowledge of how to use it, and clothing that is appropriate to the time of year. The use of walking poles when crossing moorland can be helpful for maintaining balance and forward motion. They can also be useful when descending some of the steeper sections of the walks.

    Smartphones can prove invaluable, especially when combined with a mapping app. However, these do drain the batteries, so be careful. One advantage of having a smartphone should you get into difficulty and need assistance from Mountain Rescue is its ability to let the teams know where you are, making rescue a much easier and quicker process. It is therefore advantageous to carry one of these devices for emergency purposes.


    Big skies in the Dark Peak (Walk 7)

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    We are always grateful to readers for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground. If you would like to send some information to us then please use our contact form. They will be published here following review by the author(s).

  • Reviews

    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.

    The Bradway Bugle

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Paul Besley

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.

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