A wild walk in the Peak District with a great pub at the end
After a strenuous day in the hills, what could be better than a refreshing pint or two in the pub?
A new book, published by the Campaign For Real Ale, brings you some of Britain’s most beautiful walks, each with at least one great pub at the end of the journey.
Camping magazine’s Will Hawkins tackled one of the walks in the Peak District – and enjoyed a well-deserved beer to celebrate a grand day out.
Even better, there’s a Camping and Caravanning Club campsite near the start of the route, the perfect place to camp and use as a base for the weekend or more.
KINDER SCOUT FROM HAYFIELD
Access: Train from Manchester or Sheffield to New Mills, then bus from New Mills. Buses also from Glossop, Buxton & Stockport
Distance: 10.5 miles (16km)
Ascent: 2421ft (738m)
Duration: 4-6 hours
OS map: Explorer OL1 Peak District – Dark Peak area
Local attractions: Kinder Scout, Kinder Trespass heritage
Timing tip: Beware of streams after heavy rainfall
One of the joys of camping in the beautiful, wild British countryside is being able to go for a long walk and then head to a pub for a pint afterwards.
So we were delighted when CAMRA sent us copy of their new book Wild Pub Walks to review. The author, Daniel Neilson, has chosen a selection of ‘wild walks’ through some of the most beautiful, rugged parts of Britain, for which you will need to prepare well to enjoy. And we mean prepare; these are not walks to do in a pair of trainers, jeans and a cagoule. You need to have good walking gear, and should be reasonably fit to enjoy them.
That said, the walks are super. Daniel makes sure they take in good pubs that serve real ale, and which have character. What’s not to like? So in the interests of research, my wife Penny and I tackled one of the routes in Derbyshire’s Peak District to sample both the walks and, of course, the ale.
Kinder Scout is the highest point in the Peak District. Rather than being a single peak, it’s more of a plateau you climb up to reach and walk over. It’s wild, rugged and beautiful. And if the weather is kind to you, it rewards you with some magnificent views over the National Park and Manchester. If the weather’s less favourable, wear the right kit and enjoy the great outdoors!
The walk we chose was 10 miles long, a perfect length for a five to six hour hike. The route from Hayfield, a small, pretty down near Glossop, over Kinder Scout is challenging but rewarding, as we were to soon find out.
STARTING OUT FROM HAYFIELD
The route recommends starting out in the town centre at the bus stop (assuming you use public transport to get to Hayfield). Drive there and you can easily park off the main road in the town. But if you camp, you can join the route at the site. It’s a nice spot in the wooded valley with plenty of space for tents, caravans, motorhomes and campervans.
As you leave the campsite, you’ll see some public loos on the right. It’s probably a good idea to use them before you begin your climb up onto Kinder Scout! They are clean enough. Now, you begin a gentle climb along the leafy lane towards Kinder Reservoir. Follow the road for about a kilometre until you see the gates for the water company’s works below the reservoir. To the left of the gates, you will see the footpath.
Walk up the cobbled footpath with the dry stone wall on your right. As you climb, you get a great view of the ridgeline and the reservoir (if the weather is good). Fairly soon, the path doubles back on itself to the left. It’s a steep but short climb up to a gate.
Here, you turn right and follow the path along what’s known as ‘White Brow’. It was here that we saw a flock of sheep being herded off the hill by a farmer and his family. Soon, the sheep were all around us and we had the company of three fell runners, also waiting for the sheep to pass.
WILLIAM CLOUGH OR NOT?
The book recommends following the footpath up a valley called ‘William Clough’. We followed the route. But it is hard going. It’s steep and rocky. If it has rained heavily recently, it would probably be a lot wetter too. You have to cross the stream a few times and so you need good, waterproof boots.
Later, Penny and I met a Peaks Park Ranger who suggested a much nicer route to the top (“Great! Now, you tell me!”). On the Ordnance Survey map (Explorer OL1, The Peak District - Dark Peak Area) you’ll see a track marked, which heads in an easterly direction over the moorland and the slope. The ground looks a lot gentler than the contour lines on the map bar those near the top. Taking the alternative route up onto the ridge means you also shorten the route by about a mile.
By the time we reached the top of William Clough we were both sweating, particularly me. You will have completed the hardest part of the walk when you get to the top. There is one more climb, but it’s short.
Here, we sat on a peat bank for a moment to take in the splendid view and all that oxygen that our bodies were craving. That refreshing pint couldn’t come soon enough!
UP TO KINDER SCOUT
Now that you’ve got all that oxygen back into your muscles, you need to turn right and take the final, major climb up onto Kinder Scout. Fortunately, it’s a short, sharp climb up to the plateau.
We stopped about 50 metres along from the crest and right above some crags to have lunch. And what a place for a bite to eat. You can see for miles on a clear day. All the way over to Manchester, down to the reservoir below and along the route you’ve just ascended.
ALONG THE RIDGE
You can now follow a well-worn path along the ridge, on which you will pass by some interesting rock formations. The local gritstone was used for millstones in the past. And, there’s evidence of stones that were being cut from the rock but were abandoned before completion.
At about half way along the ridge, past Sandy Heys, there are rocks which form a small gully. Walk into them and it feels a bit like the set from The Lord of the Rings. Another kilometre further and you reach Kinder Downfall, a waterfall. For us, the waterfall was not so impressive, due to the dry weather. However, the rocks which create the waterfall are striking. You can see layer upon layer of rock and big chunks, which have broken off over the years, lying in the valley below.
As you approach the stream which supplies Kinder Downfall, you’re likely to see groups of people stopping to rest and take in the scenery. It was busy when we got there with people cooling off their feet in the water.
NEXT STOP: KINDER LOW
From Kinder Downfall the route heads in a southerly direction along the footpath towards the Trig point at Kinder Low (633 metres above sea level). The path takes up through small gullies, over streams and fords, and past rock outcrops.
You can’t see much to your left, until you reach Kinder Low. But, to your right you’ll see a different and magnificent view of where you’ve been (as long as it’s clear, of course).
Once you arrive at Kinder Low, the view opens up to the left into the gorgeous Vale of Edale. On a good day, the scenery is magnificent. Here you’ll see the Trig point atop a rock. And, there are handfuls of other outcrops to stand on take in the panoramic view. On a wet and windy day, however, I expect most people wouldn’t want to hang around here. You’ll be exposed to the weather and standing around won’t be on your mind.
AROUND THE SWINE’S BACK
At Kinder Low, you’ve done all the climbing on the route. It is downhill all the way from here to the campsite at Hayfield. You will see a stone-laid path leading uphill towards you, and part of the Pennine Way as it comes up from the Vale of Edale from the steep, rocky ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ path. Before you is the footpath which takes you to past Edale Rocks, a dramatic outcrop onto which you might want to climb and take in the view. By this time, our legs were beginning to feel it, so we carried on towards a prominent, oval-shaped hill called the ‘Swine’s Back’.
Officially, you follow the path to the south-west, but there is a small track which skirts around the Swine’s Back and is a good shortcut. We took it.
TOWARDS OAKEN CLOUGH
The track leads to a gate in a dry stone wall. This spot is known as Edale Cross. Go through the gate and turn right onto the rocky track, which leads down into a valley called ‘Oaken Clough’. The track is steep and it’s a good place to use your walking poles or stick, if you have them.
Now that you’ve joined this track, you’ll probably notice how much quieter it is than on the ridge. We saw only a handful of walkers and some mountain bikers coming up the track. The mountain bikers were having to work hard to get up the track.
Follow the track down for about 750 metres until you see a footpath to the right, which leads into an area owned by The National Trust.
This is a deviation from the official route in the Wild Pub Walks book. The steepness and rockiness of the track made it hard-going on my Penny’s knees, so we decided to take a gentler route down across the fields.
The footpath splits after about 400 metres. Take the left hand track and drop down to the ford and stile.
ON THE HOME STRAIGHT
The final stage crosses into farmland towards Tunstead Clough Farm. It’s pastureland and the views here are as stunning as those on Kinder Scout. The valley you are in is marked with interesting hills, the most quirky of which is ‘Mount Famine’ to your south.
Follow the steep footpath past the farm and onto the track which leads to the bottom of the wooded valley. Here, you turn right (north) and follow the narrow lane you walked up on your way out.
You’ll soon reach those public loos and the campsite. But it’s not quite time to stop yet. Keep going for another mile or so into Hayfield, and you can finally reward yourself with a pint or two at the Royal Hotel, or one of the others recommended in the book. Believe me, that drink tastes much better than usual because you have earned it!
Hayfield Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Kinder Road, Hayfield, High Peak, Derbyshire SK22 2LE
Open: Early March to early November
Prices: Low season from £17.30 per pitch per night (Family pitch, 2 Adults and up to 4 children)
Market Street, Hayfield, SK22 2EP
Opening hours: 11-11
14 Church Street, Hayfield SK22 2JE
Opening hours: 11.45-11 (11.30 Fri & Sat); 12-11 Sun
Steeple End Fold, Hayfield SK22 2JD
Opening hours: 11-7 (11 Wed & Thu; midnight Fri & Sat; 10.30 Sun)
45 Glossop Road, Little Hayfield SK22 2NG
Opening hours: 12-3 (not Mon), 5-11; 12-11 Sat & Sun
Want more great tent information? Our "Hillwalking, hiking and trekking: the camping guide" is full of great information and camping advice.
Expert Camping advice to your door!
Camping magazine has been the voice of campers for over 60 years!
Camping is the UK's only magazine devoted to the wonderful world of life under canvas and the freedom it brings. Every issue is packed with inspirational travel, the top camping sites to stay on, reviews of the latest tents, camping gear reviews, practical help and much more to help you get the most out of your camping adventures.
Want to know more about Camping Magazine?About Camping Magazine