Planning your High Peak Way walk

Last updated 12 July 2018

A Peak and Northern Footpaths Society signpost on the High Peak Way

A Peak and Northern Footpaths Society signpost on the High Peak Way

As the first ever national park in Britain, you’d expect the Peak National Park to have some cracking countryside. And you’d be right. The park’s split into two areas – the Dark Peak and the White Peak. Both have their highlights, but without doubt the most dramatic scenery is in the Dark Peak.

It’s the Dark Peak that the High Peak Way travels through. It’s a 29 mile walk from Chinley to Grindleford, and takes in many of the area’s highlights. It goes through the High Peak area of Derbyshire, hence the name.

It’s not a waymarked trail and you won’t find it on any maps. Indeed it doesn’t even really exist any more. In recent years, the one and only reference to it online was in the Long Distance Walkers Association Website, but that disappeared recently too.

Before it disappeared I marked out the route on my own map and walked it myself. And it’s great. If you live near Manchester or Sheffield, or are planning a three or four day visit to the Peak District, it’s hard to go wrong with this one.

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Contents

  1. What is the walk like?
  2. The route
  3. Planning an itinerary
  4. Finding and booking accommodation
  5. Getting to/from the Limestone Way
  6. Guide Books and Maps
  7. And finally, and any questions?

What is the walk like?

A steady stream of walkers walk along the Great Ridge to Hollins Cross

A steady stream of walkers walk along the Great Ridge to Hollins Cross

The High Peak Way goes through many of the highlights of the Dark Peak. This is an area full of heather-topped hills, gritstone escarpments, and impressive views. During the walk you get to see visit well known places like Mam Tor and Stanage Edge, and also less well known areas like Cobden Edge that are equally great to visit. It has good public transport, and there’s plenty of places to spend the night.

It’s a well visited area and the trail uses good paths. There’s a lot of going up and down hills, although the route is not particularly high level. The highest you’ll go is the summit of Mam Tor, which is 517m high. The route is not waymarked, and you will need to be able to follow a route from a map.

The route

You can see the route of the High Peak Way using the map above. Using the controls you can scroll around, zoom in and explore the route. Note that this map is a guide only, and should not be used for navigation.

You can also download the GPX file of the route.

Planning an itinerary

Abandoned millstones at Stanage

Abandoned millstones at Stanage

At thirty miles, the High Peak Way can be walked in three days. Those who are faster may also wish to do it in two days. We have provided itineraries for both. The walk is suitable to do all year round, however in the winter we strongly recommend the three day version.

Accommodation and a pub can be found at the end of every stage. Where there is a railway station available on or near the route, this is marked with a *.

The 3 day itinerary

This sees you break your walk at Edale and at the Ladybower Inn, near Ladybower Reservoir. The Ladybower Inn does B&B but if you can’t get in you can catch the (admittedly infrequent) bus or a taxi to nearby Hope, Hathersage or Castleton. All three have plenty of accommodation available.

All the distances may look short, the High Peak Way involves quite a few climbs, and some great views. The extra time will be well spent. If you’re walking in winter, definitely do the three day version as

3 Day Itinerary
Stage From To Distance
Miles Km
1 Chinley * Edale * 14¾
2 Edale * Ladybower Inn 8 12¾
3 Ladybower Inn Grindleford * 11¾ 19

The 2 day itinerary

This sees you break your journey at Hope, with a slightly longer second day.

2 Day Itinerary
Stage From To Distance
Miles Km
1 Chinley * Hope * 14 22½
2 Hope * Grindleford * 15 24

Breaking the walk up into day hikes

The High Peak Way is well served by rail, calling near multiple stations on the Hope Valley railway line that runs between Manchester and Sheffield. The Ladybower Inn is also served by buses heading to Sheffield. For anyone living in those two areas, you can easily walk a section, then head home.

Edale to Hope, and Hathersage to Grindleford can also be done as shorter walks.

Finding and booking accommodation

Cairns surrounded by snow on Cracken Edge

Mysterious cairns on Cracken Edge

There is plenty of accommodation to be found along the High Peak Way. You may need to do some digging to find it. You may find the following helpful in your quest:

Using a search engine may also yield some results not listed on the above sites.

If you don’t want to change accommodation every night, you can also base yourself in one place. You can stay in Hope, Edale, Castleton or Hathersage, and use public transport to get to and from your walk. If you prefer not to move on every day, this is a very easy option to do.

Hostels and bunkbarns

For those seeking them, there are a couple of hostels available:

There are independent hostels and bunkbarns in the area, however they tend to be for groups only. If you have your own sleeping bag, there are several camping barns too.

Camping

There are several campsites around Hope and Edale, and one a mile and a half before Hathersage. As with everywhere in England and Wales, wild camping is only allowed with permission of the landowner.

Getting to/from the High Peak Way

The bus stop at Mam Tor

The bus stop at Mam Tor. Just don't wait for a bus here - there hasn't been one for years.

The High Peak Way roughly follows the Hope Valley railway line that runs between Manchester and Sheffield. Stopping trains run every hour in each direction.

There are stations at each end of the trail, at Chinley and Grindleford. There are also stations near to the trail at Edale, Hope and Hathersage.

Guide Books and Maps

The path through Greenwood Farm

The path through Greenwood Farm

The only way to find your way along the High Peak Way is by using a map. You can use the online map further up this page to mark out your journey on your own map.

Probably the easiest approach is to get yourself a copy of the A-Z Adventure Atlas for the Peak District. This gives you Ordnance Survey Explorer mapping in a handy book format. We’re big fans of these thanks to their convenience and size.

Alternatively you can take Ordnance Survey maps.

For the Explorer maps, the vast majority of the trail is on OL1, with only the last mile or two on OL24.

And finally, and any questions?

Part of Ladybower reservoir, surrounded by hills and heather moorland

Part of the Y shaped Ladybower reservoir

So that’s the High Peak Way for you. A wonderful stroll through the Dark Peak, even if the walk doesn’t actually exist properly any more. But don’t let that put you off doing it. It’s a cracker. Maybe if we all walk it, it will come back into existence again. Well, stranger things have happened.

If you’ve any questions about the High Peak Way, just ask using the comments box below.

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Your Comments

Rowena Macaulay

20 June 2018 at 12:44 pm

I am a wheelchair user with a trike extension to my chair that enables me to do distances and varied terrain. However, barriers such as stiles, kissing gates etc usually put a full-stop to my walking plans! Are you able to identify any decent stretches achievable without meeting such obstacles? I am interested in coming up this summer…

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

21 June 2018 at 1:49 pm

Hi Rowena. I don’t recall that many stiles and kissing gates, but to be honest, I equally wasn’t paying that much attention. I think the stretch from the Ladybower Inn to Hathersage is pretty clear, although may require a slight detour here and there.

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