Edale sits peacefully in a paradise of pasture, riverside meadow and hedgerow, surrounded by high peaks. Its church spire towers above the cottages and farmhouses of its five scattered booths, but is in turn dwarfed by the castellated crags of Kinder Scout, and the rounded hills of the Mam Tor ridge. Rambling ManIn depression-torn 1930s England, Tom Stephenson, then secretary of the Ramblers' Association, told the readers of the Daily Herald of his dream to create a long, green trail across the roof of England. This dream would bring Edale to the world's attention. It took 30 years, a mass trespass and Acts of Parliament to achieve, but in 1965, the Pennine Way was opened. Spanning over 250 miles (402km) from Edale to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland, it was Britain's first official long distance trail. Go to Edale any Friday night and you'll see eager-eyed Pennine Wayfarers. They'll be in the campsite making their last-minute preparations, or in the Old Nags Head poring over Ordnance Survey maps or looking though Wainwright's little green guidebook.
Unfortunately the popularity of the Way has led to the main route through Grindsbrook being diverted along the foul-weather route up Jacob's Ladder. But as you leave Edale, or to be more strictly correct Grindsbrook Booth (Edale is the name of the valley), you can look across to the old route, which delves deep into the rocky ravine. Your route climbs boldly beside Ringing Roger (the echoing rocks). From this great viewpoint you can look down on the length of Edale and across to the great Lose Hill Mam Tor ridge. What follows is an edge walk round the great chasm of Grindsbrook, taking you past Nether Tor to the place where the old Pennine Way track comes to meet you. The Way didn't bother with the comforts of the edge, but got stuck into those peat haggs to the right. It was a stiff navigational challenge to get to the Kinder Downfall on the other side of the expansive plateau. Past natural gritstone sculptures and the rocky peak of Grindslow Knoll you come to another ravine, Crowden Brook. The route continues through a fascinating collection of weather-smoothed rocks known as the Wool Packs and on to reach Edale Cross. This rugged gritstone cross marks the highest point on the old packhorse trail between Edale and the Sett Valley. The descent follows the route trod by the hardy mules down Jacob's Ladder, now the new section of the Pennine Way, which you follow via Upper Booth all the way back across the fields to Edale.
Exit the car park beside the public toilets and turn right onto the village road. Go under the railway bridge and through Edale, past The Old Nags Head pub. Eventually fork right at the gate to 'The Gathering' then across a footbridge over Grinds Brook.
Leave the main Grindsbrook Clough path by the side of a small barn, forking right to climb up the lower hillside to a gate on the edge of open country. The path now zigzags above the valley, then climbs above The Nab. Stick with the pitched path until it fades just below the rocks of Ringing Roger then fork right onto a faint rocky path to head more directly onto the ridgeline and summit of Ringing Roger.
Follow a few stone flags along the ridgeline leading out to the main path towards Oller Brook. As this veers right, fork left onto a faint path to a group of cairns just right of a lone tree on the edge. Pass two cairns, then fork left on a sandy track before the third. A flagstone lined path now rounds the cavernous hollow of Grindsbrook past Nether Tor. Keep the edge on your left now, you'll cross some small fords before a long indentation to the large ford across the eastern headwater stream of Grinds Brook.
Meet the old Pennine Way route at a large cairn by another headwater stream. Ignore a path forking left for the outlier of Grindslow Knoll, instead follow the paved footpath westwards to the head of Crowden Clough (another deep hollow). Continue along the edge of Kinder past the top of Crowden Tower and on via a succession of gritstone outcrops –the Wool Packs, Pym Chair and Noe Stool.
Continue ahead on the paved path at a large cairn (where the path comes in from Kinder Low). This heads under the Swine's Back - a short angular ridge. Follow the main route left down steps then fork left on slabs at a junction with a sandy path.
Continue down to a beehive shaped cairn, then bend left for the pitched staircase of Jacob's Ladder. This descends to an old packhorse bridge, then along to some buildings (Lee Farm). Now it becomes a surfaced lane and descends to Upper Booth.
Cross a bridge over a stream, then turn left into a farmyard (Upper Booth). Follow the gravel drive as it bends right then through a gate. Turn left with the track following a Pennine Way sign then right following a 'Footpath to Edale' sign. The Pennine Way rises up a sandy track which fades as it begins to traverse rough pasture and fields at the foot of Broadlee Bank. At a junction below Grindslow Knoll turn right to descend a tree-lined track to the village. Turn right along the road and back to the car park.
Field paths and moorland tracks (mostly slabbed, but some peaty sections)
Rock and peat paths, some steep ascents and descents, occasional scrambly sections
Walk is on farmland and access land, dogs should be kept on leads
AA Walker's Map 1 Central Peak District
Edale pay car park
At car park
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
The natural features of this central English county range from the modest heights of the Peak District National Park, where Kinder Scout stands at 2,088 ft (636 m), to the depths of its remarkable underground caverns, floodlit to reveal exquisite Blue John stone. Walkers and cyclists will enjoy the High Peak Trail which extends from the Derwent Valley to the limestone plateau near Buxton, and for many, the spectacular scenery is what draws them to the area.
The county is well endowed with stately homes – most notably Chatsworth, the palatial home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, with its outstanding collections of paintings, statuary and art. Other gems include the well preserved medieval Haddon Hall, the Elizabethan Hardwick Hall, and Kedleston Hall, whose entrance front has been described as the grandest Palladian façade in Britain.
The spa town of Matlock is the county’s administrative centre and other major towns of interest include Derby and the old coal mining town of Chesterfield, with its crooked spire. Around the villages of Derbyshire, look out for the ancient tradition of well dressing, the decorating of springs and wells – the precious sources of life-sustaining water – with pictures formed from flowers.