Edale X Kinder Scout X Kinder Downfall

Not every hike needs to be a super summit. Look for Heritage and History for the true rewards.

It’s all too easy to get carried away when planning your hikes. Weekend after weekend, it’s tempting to conquer the highest and most dramatic peaks, ticking off your Trail 3000’s as you go along. But in that drive for personal bests, the history and purpose of the hike can be easily forgotten. 

In 1932 Kinder Scout, a plateau moorland in the Dark Peak area of The Peak District, was the venue of a wilful mass trespass by ramblers and the Young Communist League. This event built the foundation of the National Parks Legislation of 1949, establishing long distance footpaths and Rights of Way for years to come, eventually summarising in the Countryside and Rights of Way act of 2000. 

These leaps in history have paved the way for the freedom we can all experience today, from simple rambles in your local park, to multi-day thru-hikes, the ‘rights’ of today’s hiker are far more bulletproofed than they used to be. 

So, to pay homage to the people of 1932, I planned a hike up and over Kinder Scout and it’s reportedly bleak moorland to try to get a feel for what these people found so precious, they risked prosecution to protect it. 

Starting in the sleepy village of Edale, the route follows the well-established Penine Way. Following the contour of the land to a small Hamlet called Upper Booth and arriving at the aptly named Jacobs Ladder. Now this is aptly named because it is one of the quickest and most abrupt climbs I’ve came across throughout the Peak District; it’s a good job there is a conveniently placed cairn with sitting area at the top!

Continuing along the Penine Way, with a more gradual climb towards the ‘peak’ of Kinder Low at 633m, the route along a ridge eventually meets Kinder Downfall. Water draining from the moors of Kinder Scout cascades over these falls, varying in magnitude dependant on the time of year. If the route is followed in the spring or summer, the riverbed can be followed East towards the Kinder Gates, two great masses of rock flanking the river. During the winter, a narrow footpath can be followed along the same riverbed. 

As the riverbed splits into tributaries across the moor, the path all but disappears, so a reliance on GPS and/or paper map can be vital. Working a way across these moors is enjoyable and borderline lonely; the likelihood of coming across another soul is slim, even on the brightest of days. 

The nature of the plateau allows for great panoramic views across the area from all sides, giving a true representation to the understated beauty of The Peak District. As the route intercepts the main path, around Crowden Tower, these views come together spectacularly. 

At this point the route dives and dives quickly, following Grinds Brook’ v-shaped valley directly downward. Care should be taken through this part of the route whatever the weather; it’s a good job the views are so pretty at this point. All the way through this valley there are plenty of areas for a refreshing dip in the brook!

Finally, take an arm-swinging stroll through the valley all the way to Edale, arriving at the Old Nags Head for a well-deserved pint at the official start of the Penine Way. 

During this route it became more and more obvious just what inspired the mass trespass of 1932; the main routes up and down were full of smiley faces and a sense of community, while the moorland of Kinder Scout offered the loneliness and sense of freedom that some of us so desire when hiking. A perfect balance of the two is struck on this route, it almost seemed a shame to be returning home – much unlike the sense of relief after a weekend of hitting the highest of heights throughout the UK. 

A handy car park is available at the Edale Village Hall for £6.00 (4-10 Hours), reportedly the funds raised from these spaces are invested back into the hall, so this is only good news in a world of private parking monopolisation. 

Follow My Route

Click the OutdoorActive logo below to follow my route yourself.

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Remember to always carry the paper version of the map you’re using! I like to add a trace of my route and date it, providing a record of all the places I’ve been!

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