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England's Peak District: Gateway to the Pennines (Part 2)

Published
May 22, 2022
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Castleton and Mam Tor: The Great Ridge

From Hathersage, I headed westward along the Hope Road, beside the River Derwent, past the village of Hope (the inspiration for the one in Nelson, New Zealand?) to the village of Castleton.

Information Sign: 'Welcome to Castleton'

Castleton is dominated by the remains of Peveril Castle and by a low mountain called Mam Tor, meaning mother hill, as it keeps giving off small hills by way of a slow landslide that has been working for centuries. Very strange. There is a long walk along a local ridgeline that goes up and over Mam Tor, and this is one of the most popular hikes in the Peak District. However, I did not do it as I was going to do another one called Kinder Scout.

Entering Castleton

Castleton: A Classic English Village

There seem to be lots of caves in the Castleton area.

Sign advertising the Blue John Cavern, Castleton Caverns and Peveril Castle
A sign leading to Blue John Cavern in one direction and Castleton Caverns and Peveril Castle in the other

Sign saying ‘Welcome to Peak Cavern’
'Welcome to Peak Cavern'

The remains of Peveril Castle, built nearly a thousand years ago by the Normans

Inside Peveril Castle


A lovely churchyard in Castleton, with May blossoms falling

A bistro in Castleton, looking chilly on that day

Edale and Kinder Scout

From Castleton, I headed out through the scenic Winnats Pass and the Blue John Cavern into the lovely valley called Edale.

Winnats Pass

Information Sign: 'Welcome to Edale'

This area is very much like the Shire out of The Lord of the Rings, complete with a turf-roofed information centre.

Edale

Another view of Edale. Check out the hedges or stone walls that divide up the fields!

The Information Centre in the village of Edale

From Edale Road, which runs along the middle of the valley, you head up a dead-end side road called Marys Lane, past the Rambler Inn, to where most of the actual village of Edale is hidden away.

The Rambler Inn, behind a high embankment

Selfie in the village of Edale
In the village of Edale


One arm of this sign points to Edale's railway station: yes, there is one!

Edale is also where the Pennine Way begins (spot the typo)

Newfold Farm, close to where the Pennine Way begins in the village

Around four kilometres along the Pennine Way, you get to a place called Jacob’s Ladder, from where a steep path branches off into the hills of Kinder Scout. You get to Jacob’s Ladder after crossing an old stone packhorse bridge.

Heading along the Pennine Way toward the old stone packhorse bridge that is the start of Jacob’s Ladder

The old stone packhorse bridge, across which goods were transported for trade between the towns before the coming of the railways

The start of Jacob’s Ladder


Jacob's Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder and a Cairn at the top


The Kinder Scout Trail

Weird Kinder Scout rocks

More weird Kinder Scout rocks

The Trail Continues


An interesting cairn with the green valley beyond

I think that one or other of these spots was at the very highest point on Kinder Scout and in the Peak District, at 636 metres or 2,087 feet about sea level

The Kinder Scout hike took me about seven hours. Again, stunning! Really enjoyable, and I recommend it for families.

Here’s a video I made, of Castleton, Peveril Castle and Kinder Scout. It’s just short, but it includes a quick glimpse of the mountain called Mam Tor and, through a tree, Stanage Edge (“where I was yesterday”) at the other end of the Hope Valley from Castleton. Just before those words, you can see Castleton village (it’s in the thumbnail as well). I spot “another cavern” on the hillside (there are lots of caves in this valley) and end up on Kinder Scout.

Apps and other tips

The best times to visit the Peak District are during the week, as it gets a bit packed out at weekends.

A really useful website, which includes an app, is visitpeakdistrict.com/.

You don’t need a car to visit the Peak District, as there is a railway line that runs through from Manchester to Sheffield.

The website for the Peak District National Park is https://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/. It includes a full list of campsites and camping and cabin prices and facilities.

I find that WikiCamps UK is an excellent camping app more generally. You can also join the UK Camping and Caravanning Club for rates that start from 45 UK Pounds a year. They give major discounts on camping.

A lot of the popular walks are signposted across the UK, but in the national parks, surprisingly enough, they hardly seem to be signposted at all. This is quite a different state of affairs from the way things are in New Zealand. To avoid getting lost, this makes it even more advisable to purchase detailed topographical maps, which in Britain are called Ordnance Survey Maps.

Here is a website that describes the relevant Ordnance Survey Maps for the Peak district: peakdistrictwalks.net/peak-district-maps/.

(I got a walking guide which wasn’t as good but gave me an idea.)

I also find the AllTrails app to be very useful, as always. It can be used offline.

There is a really good camping store in Britain called Go Outdoors. It has everything at really reasonable prices. I got a big bottle of gas for 9 pounds and also bought a tent and everything else I needed, including winter clothes for the hills.

For weather, I was using the Meteor app, but apparently, the BBC is a bit more reliable.

Lastly, the Waze app helps you to find free carparks.

My next post will be about Sheffield!

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