The Peak District’s best walking routes

The Peak District contains some of the finest hillwalking routes in England, from rocky escarpments and ridges to mini mountains and rolling moorland.

The Peak District's best walking routes

by James Ayshford |

The Peak District is the oldest National Park in Britain, with a wide variety of walking and hiking routes for all ages and abilities. The famous Pennine Way long-distance trail starts in Edale, the park’s identity is synonymous with its iconic gritstone edges and limestone caves, there are vast moorland plateaus and pointy peaks to explore, plus too many pubs and cafes to pick from in quaint villages and towns like Castleton and Bakewell. We’ve rounded up some of the most popular Peak District walks below, with mapped digital routes for you to download and follow.

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1. Kinder Scout Edges

Kinder Scout Edges

A circuit of the highest peak in the National Park, with its wide-ranging views and rock features, is probably the most rewarding Peak District route of all. You can start from Edale with a steep pull up to the rock formation of Ringing Roger via The Nab. Make tracks past Ringing Roger’s dramatic geology and cling to the barren plateau of Kinder Scout, with the steep drops behind you delivering far-reaching views.

From here, you can make it up as you go because this vast expanse of peat bog has no real defined summit, yet plenty of fascinating features to explore. Those include the waterfall of Kinder Downfall, the Seal Stones rocks, Noe Stool, the Wool Packs and Jacob’s Ladder. Make sure you brush up on your map and compass skills though, because it’s a nightmare to navigate in poor visibility.

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2. Mam Tor and the Great Ridge

Mam Tor and the Great Ridge

There are many great reasons to walk Mam Tor and The Great Ridge, but one of the biggest has to be witnessing the Peak District’s contrasting geology. Start in the village of Castleton where, if you fancy making this a long walk, you can add early excitement to the lower elevations by hiking The Limestone Way through Cave Dale before tackling the ascent to Mam Tor’s 517m summit. From there the whole of the Great Ridge strings out ahead of you to the north-east, heading over Hollins Cross and Back Tor to its finish at Lose Hill.

As you walk the backbone of the ridge you get to appreciate the landscape of both the White and Dark Peak, with views stretching across the limestone hills in the south and gritstone edges in the north that define the two key characteristics of this famous National Park. This well-marked ridge is a fantastic family option and is not complete without a cuppa in Castleton when you finish.

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3. Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill

Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill

The classic White Peak territory of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill makes for beautiful hillwalking. Intersecting dry stone walls, stiles and plenty of suspicious sheep definitely give it the feel of a proper English countryside walk.

As you climb up and down these spectacular limestone protrusions, you’ll be walking atop former sea-beds. And don’t be fooled by their relatively low elevations because – on Parkhouse Hill particularly – there are plenty of steep drops and descents where you’ll need to carefully watch your step. You can bag both hills in a relatively short loop that will be over way too quickly, but this is as spectacular a landscape as you’ll find anywhere in the Peak District so linger as long as you can and take plenty of photos.

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4. The Roaches

The Roaches

Wildlife, stunning terrain and mythical tales make the Roaches a top choice for hillwalkers. These iconic crags deliver a classic hike with expansive views to Cheshire and even Snowdon on a very clear day. If you’ve ever driven the A53 from Buxton to Leek, you’ll know the views out of the car window compel you to pull over, lace up your boots and walk The Roaches.

Up on the dramatic outcrops, surrounding the 505m summit, birdlife is abundant, with grouse, swooping buzzards and even peregrine falcons hiding in the crags. Keep a watchful eye for a bounding wallaby, which were accidentally released in the area back in WW2 and are rumoured still to be bouncing around the hills. If you’re feeling extra determined, throw in the climb of neighbouring Hen Cloud. The escarpment certainly has a mystical quality, especially given that Doxey Pool, which you’ll pass on the way, is said to be inhabited by the spooky mermaid Wicked Jenny Greenteeth.

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5. Stanage Edge

Stanage Edge

After walking the long, impressive escarpment of Stanage Edge you’ll get a real feel for the tremendous variety on offer in the Peak District National Park. The exposed gritstone and adjacent moorland give a rawness and atmosphere that makes it hard to believe the grassy limestone caves and valleys of the south are within the same park.

Stanage Edge is a climber’s dream, so keep a lookout below for boulderers taking on daring ascents up the broken crags. This is a straightforward place to navigate with plenty of starting points along the 6km length of the escarpment, which can be easily walked in a lovely loop walk from the village of Hathersage that takes in a variety scenery including rivers and woodland.

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Safety note: These are challenging walks that require a head for heights and a good level of navigation skill: ensure you have a map, compass, the right clothing and avoid bad weather unless you have the experience.

OS Maps FAQ and quick start guide

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