With its stretching moorland and its rolling peaks, the southern end of the Pennines is simply a must-have for any hiker’s memory bank, here’s our top picks for where to head in the Peak District this spring:
# Mam Tor
One of the most famous hills in the Peak District, translating to ‘Mother Hill’, Mam Tor is an entry level hike, with pathed routes and a few steeper climbs. The stone surfaced footpath, from the carpark to the summit, rewards climbers with one of the most striking views in the Peak District, looking over the Edale Valley to Kinder Scout and the Derwent Moors.
- The hill is crowned by a late Bronze age, and an early Iron Age fort.
- Several caves are located at the base of the Tor including Speedwell Cavern and Peak Cavern.
# Kinder Scout
The highest gritstone peak in the Peak District, Kinder Scout, is the first leg of the Pennine Way. The Pennine way is a 267-mile route beginning in the Peaks and ending in Scotland. Not for the faint of heart, the steep and difficult ascent beginning in Edale village is better suited for more experienced hikers. During particularly clear weather conditions, it provides viewpoints across Manchester, Winter Hill near Bolton and the mountains of Snowdonia in Wales.
- Gentle streams, dark gritstone and unique peat.
- Tallest waterfall in the Peak District, the Kinder Downfall.
- Interesting rock formations such as Pym’s Chair and the Boxing Gloves.
The renowned beauty spot is known for the beautiful River Dove and its many limestone ravines. The isolated limestone hill of Thorpe Cloud offers challenging hill climbs, with more family friendly walks along the river itself. The rich woodland and wildlife are a must to explore among the scenic charm of the Dovedale valley. Offering numerous paths and more off-road hikes, the valley has something for every level of hiker.
- Two caves known as the Dove Holes.
- Rock pillar formations including IIams Rock and Viator’s Bridge.
# Tissington Trail
This cyclist friendly trail is a 13-mile-long route between Parsley Hay to Ashbourne. Surrounded by limestone countryside as well as numerous Norman churches, it has something for both the geologists and the historians among you. The trail also runs along a section of the historic railway line from Ashbourne to Buxton, with some remnants along the route. The firm crushed limestone surface provides suitable ground for cyclists, walkers and even wheelchair users. There are several car parks, picnic sites and toilet facilities along the trail.
- Numerous Norman churches along the trail.
- Remnants of a late 19th century railway line.
# The Roaches
The rocky, steep ridges of the Roaches are visually striking. They also hold mythical mystique as the home of mermaids, or ‘Blue Nymphs’. The legendary home of these magical creatures is Doxey Pool, a gorgeous pool of water which sits atop the Roaches. Folklore has it that the Nymphs hide just below the surface of the pool waiting to snatch children, so keep an eye on your nippers!
The ridge of the Roaches descends into a woodland, where the historically curious will be delighted to find Lud’s Church. The ‘church’ is in fact a breath-taking moss-covered gorge where the early Protestants reformers worshipped in secrecy, under John Wycliffe. It is also where figures from Arthurian legend, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, are said to have clashed swords.
- Peregrine falcons regularly spotted in the area.
- Mythology surrounding the Doxey Pool and its ‘Blue Nymph’ mermaids.
- Lud’s church, of Arthurian legend.
The village of Eyam is famous for its residents deeds in the 1900s, during the black plague. The villagers halted the spread of the plague further North by isolating themselves, a sacrifice that hasn’t been forgotten. Their selfless isolation resulted in heavy losses (two thirds of the village’s population). The hike itself begins in the village and and loops around the surrounding moorland and farmer’s fields.
- Enclosed graveyard with information about the village’s plague-time history.
- Historic ‘plague cottages’.
# Pennine Way
For the more daring among us, the Pennine Way offers a 267-mile-long hiking trail, starting in the Peak District and ending in the Pennines, Scotland. You can tackle this hiking trail in around three weeks and it is notoriously difficult to do so, however, you may prefer to visit smaller sections in planned weekend trips. Weigh up your experience and craving for hiking bragging rights before making the decision.
- One of, if not the toughest hike in the UK.
- Described as “the backbone of England”.
- Many air B&Bs, pubs and campsites along the way.