A full week to get away and explore in the campervan – bliss! We had both had this week booked off work for quite a while and were really looking forward to getting away. We’d decided that the Peak District would be a really good place to head to – not too far away from home, lots to do while we were there, and a new place to explore. I have been before, but only for fleeting visits (Bakewell and Belper I think!) and the hilly terrain would make great training for our trail half marathon that is fast approaching.
Not running! Every time we have travelled down the M1 we comment on the castle that you can see. Every time we say we’d like to visit. So we did. A bit out of our way, but we weren’t in a rush. Pre-booked the tickets just before we set off from home and hoped that it wouldn’t be too busy (I haven’t really been out into more crowded areas at all yet). Really enjoyed our visit, it’s not often we do things like this and just take the time to wander around without rushing. It was very well organised, not busy and we felt safe the whole time. We can now say we’ve been!
The first of the two runs we had planned. Using the OS Maps website I had found a mapped route which took us from Edale up Jacobs Ladder, up to Kinder Scout and back around to Edale – 8.5 miles. It was eventful!
First issue – parking in the main car park at Edale we discovered you couldn’t pay by card and we didn’t have any cash. The parking attendant kindly told us that the cafe at the train station would happily give us cash back in coins in return for a small purchase. A big shout out to The Penny Pot Cafe here, a takeaway coffee for the hubby and a slice of lemon drizzle cake each we were back at the van with enough change for parking and some very delicious cake to fuel our run.
Heading north from the car park we picked up the Pennine Way to begin the run. We knew this would be a run / walk, we weren’t in a rush, knew it would be hard work on the hills and we wanted to enjoy the views. This first stretch was beautiful, gently uphill across fields and on tracks. A lovely start.
Jacobs Ladder. Wow! For those who (like me before) have no idea what this is, it is basically a path up a hill side. Very steep! There are stones lining the way, sometimes they are steps, sometimes just a slope. Needless to say we didn’t run up this bit! But the view… that was worth every step. Turning round half way up to look back down the dale – stunning.
Carrying on the climb we then headed across to Kinder Scout. Some of this was runnable, lots of stone slab path, not too steep for the main part. We found a trig point (I believe one of three up here, but we didn’t see any others) and carried on following the path. It is like a different world up on the top, nearly like a moonscape. Then all of a sudden a stream and waterfall. I did have a bit of an issue with a short dizzy spell where I was listing to one side and couldn’t seem to stand up – very much a reminder to stop and have a bit of food and drink (homemade flapjack and nakd bars were the days fuel).
Then it all started to go a bit wrong…
First of all we struggled to get on the right path, and never did get the right one. The one we wanted seemed to go vertically down a waterfall. A check of the map and we could see that the path to the right would also take us in the right direction. And then we got lost in a bog! It seemed to take ages at this point to work our way through the peat and find a better path. We saw a few people walking in the distance so we weren’t completely alone and we knew that we could find our way down, but it was hard going, certainly no running and a bit frustrating.
We finally spotted a better path, headed towards it with the last obstacle being a four foot high peat bank to climb up. Hubby went first, no problem. My turn, foot on a ledge to hoist myself up… the ledge gave way, I ended up sprawled out on the floor in the peat… Well it gave him a laugh anyway!
Happy to be on a better path we managed a bit of running, a stop in a stream to get washed and we were finally on the descent towards Edale. It’s always hard work coming down really steep hills, too steep to run for quite a bit of it before finally joining the Pennine way again, close to where we started and a good run back down to the car park – the quickest mile of the whole run! Turned out to be about 10 miles and took us 3.5 hours. I loved the first half, wouldn’t do the second half again, I’d need to find a better route.
The Great Ridge
Another route found on OS Maps – The Great Ridge. Starting and finishing in Castleton, 6.3miles. Again we had a problem with parking in Castleton, in the main car park no facility to pay by card. There is a National Trust shop at the car park so I thought no problem, I’ll go in there and buy something and get some change. Nope. I was not allowed to pay with cash. This was nothing to do with COVID but because they didn’t want to give out change. I understand that they must be asked by lots of people, but why not make sure they have lots of change?! Make it a requirement that you have to buy something to get change… Surely then they would benefit. Hence we had to walk to the other end of the village, withdraw cash at the post office and request it in coins (thank you to the helpful lady in the post office). Back to the van, a parking ticket purchased and we were finally ready to start the run.
Out from the southern side of Castleton we picked up a public footpath along a few fields before joining the road again to go up Winnats Pass (very wide grass verge so you aren’t on the road) – very steep but stunning views when you turned around to look where we had come from. Passing across a few stock fields we were on the main paths to Mam Tor, which is where it became busy. Climbing up to the trig point we stopped for a few photos and then headed along the ridge path. This was great, runnable for the most, just had to dodge around people, but no real navigation needed. The path took us to Hollins Cross, up Black Tor and finally to Lose Hill before descending back to lower levels and coming back to Castleton from the north. Ended up as 6.7 miles, took us just under 2 hours and I’d definitely do this one again.
A quick freshen up and change at the van and we went for a wander around the village which is actually really nice, particularly off the main road. We had planned to have lunch at the van but spotted a pub that was serving food (only in the garden) so decided to give it a go. I’m very glad we did! The tables were fairly well spaced, there was a one way system in operation around the garden area and no menus etc (scan a code on your phone to access the menu). Pizza for the hubby, chicken & pepper skewers with a side salad and sweet potato fries for me – delicious! If you are in the area we would definitely recommend a meal at The George Inn.
We had a drive around in the afternoon to see a bit more of the area before finding somewhere to park up for dinner and the night before heading home the next day.
All meals apart from lunch at The George were made / eaten at the van, I quite enjoy working out what we can have and we eat very well! Breakfast tends to be porridge, sandwiches for lunch and a variety of meals for dinner that I have cooked at home and brought with us. This time we had chicken curry, beef stew, chicken stir fry and minced beef & mashed potato. Told you we don’t go hungry!
Would we come back to the Peak District? Yes! It is much closer for us than the Lakes, and I think there is lots to explore. Looking forward to coming back again so if anyone has any recommended routes or areas that are worth a visit, let me know.