The Peak District has well and truly become my stomping ground and I’ve been lucky enough to spend many sunny days hiking through the valleys, up the hills, and along the ridges. At just under 1,500 square foot, the Peak District is a vast playground for explorers and it can be hard to know where to start.
Below are some of my favourite walks from this summer – narrowing it down to five was tough.
5. The Roaches
Located less than 10 miles from Leek, this walk in the White Peak is a popular hiking and climbing destination. The ragged ridge makes for a dramatic backdrop and provides beautiful views over the North of Staffordshire.
The Roaches will always be a favourite of mine after many summers as a kid spent caravanning in the area. The most obvious route offers varied landscapes, starting off with a steady incline towards the rocky edge, then through a forest area with impressive pine trees, and finally up and along the ridge.
You’ll see many climbers dotted along the cliff, with some eye watering drops below them. Shortly before the trig point, which stands at over 500m above sea level, you’ll see Doxey Pool – this naturally formed pool of water is a great stopping point for a photo, and there’s usually a dog splashing about in there too. Legend has it, the water is inhabited by a spirit and residents of the villages below would visit the top of the peak to lay flowers as an offering – if you believe that sort of thing, of course.
4. Win Hill
With views overlooking Ladybower Reservoir, Win Hill is a great choice for stunning views across the district. I seemed to find the steepest route to the summit, which stands at just over 460m tall, but there are a number of much easier paths to the top.
The rocky ridge is a popular route for hikers, as well as mountain bikers and fell runners. I opted for a circular route that started at the Yorkshire Bridge Inn (where there’s free parking close by) and went up and over the ridge, before looping back along the waters edge of Ladybower. Even on a misty and overcast day, the views are impressive with Mam Tor and Lose Hill in the distance. The tall pine trees lining the reservoir keep the path sheltered and provide a beautiful backdrop for the walk.
After a few hours of hiking, ending the route back at the pub isn’t the worst thing in the world – and it’s dog friendly.
3. Three Shire Heads
Recommended by a fellow hiker on instagram, Three Shire Heads is a secluded spot along the River Dane where Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet. Nestled within Axe Edge Moor, there are many circular routes that include the picturesque streams and waterfalls.
The history of the area is focused on the packhorse bridge, which suggests the route was important for trade from the nearby towns to Macclesfield. The pools are popular for wild swimming, but they’re very cold – I dipped my toes in, so take my word for it! Starting from a parking spot off the A54, I walked along the well trodden track and was soon following the path parallel to the river. I decided to get there early, which I definitely recommend doing, as I imagine the easy route is popular on a sunny day.
If you’re lucky with the weather and you’re looking for somewhere to grab a treat from after your hike, head to Blaze Farm for some homemade ice cream!
2. Curbar Edge
Curbar Edge is another popular hiking destination, with glorious views over Calver and Grindleford below. Starting from the national trust car park, you reach the start of the ridge fairly quickly and at a leisurely climb – making it the perfect stroll for those wanting 360 views without having a strenuous climb.
The ridge doesn’t have a trig point, but does lead on to White Edge that has one standing at 270ft. There are a number of millstones dotted along the escarpment, which traditionally would have been used to grind grains.
Keep your eyes peeled for the military jets that fly through the valley on test days – you’ll hear them before you see them – and don’t forget to grab an ice cream from the van when you’ve made it back to the car park.
1. Mam Tor (at sunrise)
One of the first proper hikes I ventured on this summer was Mam Tor. I wanted to see the peaks at sunrise and took advantage of a clear morning over Hope Valley.
The decision to do this walk was quite a last minute one… I was sleeping on an air mattress at the time, waiting to move into my new house, and I had woken up at 3am unable to get back to sleep. I checked the weather forecast and noticed the beautiful morning that was set to roll in over the peaks and I decided to go for it. Living in Nottingham, the drive to the Dark Peak is over an hour, so I packed my rucksack and set off chasing the dawn.
I made it to a parking bay at the base of Mam Tor just as the sun was breaking the horizon and I managed to catch the morning mist fade away as I climbed to the top. The beautiful views were made even more amazing by the hazy sunrise and I enjoyed a peaceful stroll along the peak, which stands at over 500 metres. The views blew my mind and it really gave me the hiking bug.
Make sure you head over to Winnats Pass to look at the winding road below – it’s not one for those prone to jelly legs though!
And there you have it. My top 5 Peak District walks from this summer. What’s your favourite walk in the peaks? Let me know!