Hiking in the Peak District
Where better to spend a couple of days in my autumn half term than the beautiful Peak District? Known for its abundance of walking trails and breath-taking views, it sounded like exactly my kind of escape from the city.
My intention was to stay in Edale, but I was a wee bit disorganised with booking and there was no accommodation left in town. Instead I got the train in and out of Edale, but stayed in Castleton, just 5km south.
Edale to Castleton via Mam Tor
After the three and a half hour journey from London, I arrived into Edale early in the afternoon and promptly started my walk, trying to make the most of what was left of the day.
Autumn means several things in the Peak District:
- Beautiful autumn colours
- Questionable weather
- A lot of mud
Amazingly, I was lucky with the weather! Three days of hiking and barely a drop of rain. But not so lucky with the mud. Within the first hour of my walk through the countryside, I had stepped in ankle-deep mud (just deep enough to fully immerse my boots, and soak into my socks) several times.
Nevertheless, I enjoy meandering through the countryside with the many, many sheep.
The first little climb took me up to Hollins Cross, where I got spectacular views of the countryside in every direction.
Going up just a little bit higher, battling ever-growing winds, I eventually reached Mam Tor. Wiiiiiiindy! So windy that I almost lost my jacket when I attempted to layer up. But again, brilliant views.
My plans to sit and have lunch on the peak were quickly diminished when I realised my food would almost definitely blow away. Alas, the short walk down the hill led me to quiet spot where I could still look out at the rolling hills while I ate my vegemite sandwich.
The rest of the walk was fairly flat and easy, but provided constantly beautiful views. I also passed by four different caves. Because I am so incredibly boring, I chose not to go into any. I decided I’d prefer to spend my day in the great outdoors, on this rare occasion of October sunshine.
I ended the day with a hot chocolate at an adorable little cafe, just before I reached the hostel.
Total steps: 20,051
Castleton to Hope return loop.
I started the day with a quick trip to Peveril Castle, a ruined 11th century castle that overlooks Castleton and the nearby area.
While pretending to be the king of the castle (queen? No, king), I sat for quite some time admiring yet more countryside views. Not a bad spot for a castle, I say.
From here, my little stroll began. Yes, this walk was definitely more of a stroll than a hike.
The walk took me past a whole lot of farms where the smell of animal poop filled the air. Delightful! On the plus side, I met lots of animals. It was rather gloomy-looking all day, but the rain held off.
Again, lucky with the weather but not so lucky with the mud. Right towards the end of the walk, I sloshed around in the mud and ended up on my bum! My legs and backside were absolutely saturated in mud and I was very thankful to be only a few minutes’ walk from the hostel.
The flat, relatively short walk made this day somewhat of a ‘rest day’ where I was able to catch up on some reading and some blogging in the afternoon. That’s what holidays are for anyway, right?
Total steps: 15,836
Castleton to Edale via Lose Hill and Kinder Scout.
The big day! I set off at a reasonable hour to make sure I’d be able to fit in my 20km hike before it got dark. First, I had to conquer Lose Hill. On my way up, I met many cows and the perfect blue skies made for some lovely views.
The view from the top was probably one of my favourite views in the area – possibly helped by the ridiculously perfect weather.
I was treated to more beautiful views as I descended towards Back Tor and back to Hollins Cross (which, if you recall, I passed on day one).
From there I meandered through more countryside; mostly huge open fields filled with various animals, where I had to continually climb over (or though) muddy gates to get from one to the next. It kind of baffles me how you can just walk through paddocks full of animals in this country. Does no one own this land? Or do they own it and just allow pedestrians to pop on through? Who knows.
More countryside strolling eventually led me to the base of Jacob’s Ladder. This is a (never-ending) series of steps leading up to Kinder Scout. Okay, not never-ending… But very long… And when the steps ended, the hill begun.
Finally, when I had made it to Kinder Scout (a massive plateau) and the ascent was more or less done, I took a lunch break at Edale Rocks.
From there, the path became more questionable. It was a bit of an aimless scramble over the rocks. Occasionally I bumped into other hikers who asked me for directions, leaving me to feel more confident in my “this looks about right” approach to finding a trail.
Eventually, I got to a fork in the path and found myself facing a group of hunters. Or, shooters, at least. Men with guns. Not wanting to accidentally get in their way, I chose the path behind them, rather than in front. However, shortly after, I was faced with yet another fork in the path. At this point I met three other hikers, all looking a bit lost. We soon realised we were all headed to Edale – so at least if we stuck together, we’d get lost together! By aimlessly following the couple in front of me, I managed to make it back down past Grindslow Knoll and into Edale.
All that walking and it was just before 5pm! Plenty of time to relax at the pub before my train.
Total steps: 33,919