Route: Kinder Downfall from Edale

There are two main areas I most often use for my training, the first is Snowdon, the second is Kinder Scout in the Peak District, specifically the walk up from Edale in the Hope Valley. Something about this part of the country always strikes me as quintessentially British countryside, the sort you expect to see on postcards.

This particular walk has a lot going for it; A couple of good dog & walker friendly pubs at the start. Access by road and train. Very well defined paths meaning in good conditions little to no navigation skills needed. You’re constantly rewarded with fantastic views and although challenging the route is accessible for most average to good levels of fitness. It’s also very easy to extend or shorten your walk. This last point is one of the reasons I train here often as I can tailor my route to match what I’m trying to achieve on the day. The specific route I’m going to walk us through is a slightly longer hike I did with a friend at the start of this year. Heading up past Edale Rocks, over to Kinder Downfall, then back, taking a slightly different route to come down near Grinds Brook. There are many variations that you can take, although I will mention that navigating across the bogs and moors is very difficult and in wet conditions downright dangerous, for those without navigation and map reading skills stick to the defined footpaths.


We start at the main car park, from here we have a very short stretch of tarmac leading up to the official start of the Pennine Trail. A challenge at the time of writing I have yet to take on but  planning to do in the near future. Many epic adventures have started from this humble point outside The Old Nags Head pub.

You have a good few kilometers to settle in to the walk on this route, no immediate steep inclines, you head west continuing to follow the Pennine Way and it’s here you can catch some amazing views down the Hope valley. Early morning and late afternoon offer the best light, but the view is hard to beat even in the middle of the day.

We follow the path around through Upper Booth and onward towards the first real challenge of the day, Jacob’s Ladder. This will take you up a good 100m of ascent in a very short amount of distance. Have a bit of a stretch and start climbing those steps! There is an old donkey path that heads off to the left that is slightly less steep with a little more distance, but really there’s not much between the two, plus Jacob’s Ladder is a key landmark you should do at least once if you’re in the area. Peak District, Kinder Scout-18.jpg

The path continues on from the top of Jacob’s Ladder, continuing it’s steep incline at first but slowly leveling out later as you near the next main navigation point of Edale Rocks. If you’ve kept your momentum going from the climb up Jacob’s Ladder you’ll soon come to what I’ve heard called ‘The most sat on wall in Derbyshire’ on your left. Even if you’re very fit you’ll appreciate why some locals call it that!

Edale Rocks is a favorite stop of mine. Sheltered by the rocks and having a fantastic view of where you’ve come from, it’s a perfect place to grab a little food and reap what your efforts have sown. It’s also at this point where you can decide where next to go, onwards towards the falls, back the way you’ve come, or over to Edale Head. This point is a bit of a crossroads and likely where you’ll meet other walkers out for the day.

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This shows how quickly cloud cover and bad weather can roll in. Within about 10 seconds I went from bright sunshine to cloud and rain

On this walk we’re carrying on to Kinder Falls. The Kinder Scout trig point is slightly off to the right of the main footpath if you want to grab a picture before continuing. In poor conditions this part of the Peak District is notoriously difficult to navigate. Atop Kinder Scout it’s extremely flat and featureless, note the locations of cairns as you’re walking and keep to the main paths where possible. I myself have gotten turned around in the bogs and moors in terrible conditions, it’s very easily done.

For you at least I hope the conditions are perfect, if they are you can look to the east as you walk towards the falls and see the town of Stockport and even Manchester in the distance. After you’ve continued for one or two kilometers you should start to see Kinder Falls, on windy days the falls don’t so much as ‘fall’ but ‘rise’. It’s not the most dramatic of waterfalls I have to admit, but on an iced up winter’s day the sprays creates some amazing icicles on the surrounding rocks faces.

From here again you can choose from a number of routes, on this walk we simply turned around and headed back towards Edale Rocks. As much as I try to avoid linear routes, preferring to walk in large circles, the views up here offset that somewhat. As we get back to Edale Rocks we head west, again following the footpath across Edale Head and along the top of the ridge line.

Now, the more traditional route here is to branch slightly north east and head down Grindsbrook Clough which brings you down the brook. If you’re running short of time, or if you want a more direct route to bring you back down into Grindsbrook Booth you can head up the incline to what’s known as Grindslow Knoll, still on a defined footpath, and this brings you down quicker and slightly more safely then finding you way down the more challenging Grindbrook Clough.

Either way you emerge back at the start of the Pennine Way, and have a choice of The Nags Head or The Rambler Inn a little closer to the car park for a well deserved pint!

A final note I’ll leave you with is that Kinder Scout was the scene for the Mass Trespass of 1932. It’s worth researching this a little online, as many of the rights we enjoy as walkers and hikers today come from the brave group who stood up for their, and now our, rights. There are some references to the Mass Trespass in certain locations on this walk and a little further afield in the Peak District. With scenery as striking as you’ll experience on this walk it’s good to think back to those who made a stand then, so we can enjoy it now.

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Route Name: Kinder Falls from Edale

Start / Finish: Postcode for car park – S33 7ZL NOTE: Some sat navs show this a little distance before the car park itself. Keep going, you can’t miss it. It can get VERY busy in peak season so aim to start early.

Distance: Approx 17km for this particular route.

Time: Allow 5 – 6 hours for the entire route described above.

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