Fairbrook Naze, the rocky outcrop not far from the top of the similarly named brook; Fair Brook, lies 619m high on the northern edge of Kinder Scout. The hike to it is a wonderful Grade 1 scramble up Fair Brook itself and is packed with waterfalls and many swimming spots. The sweeping view from the top of Black Ashop Moor, Kinder Scout and Edale Moor is one not to be missed while exploring the Peak District. This route really has it all; an easy stroll through magical woodlands, a fun scramble, waterfalls aplenty to quench your thirst for a wild swim, vast moorland views, those crazy rock formations that the Peak District is known for and as it’s a less explored area, the chance of you having it to yourself is really quite high.
At a Glance
Difficulty: Moderate due to Grade 1 scrambling sections
Distance: 4.22km (one way). Option to retrace steps back down or create a longer loop once at the top of Fairbrook Naze.
Total ascent: 301m
Est Time: 1hr 30 mins (without swim stop and one way)
Starting location: Snake Woodlands parking
Parking Cost: Free
Dog friendly: Only if confident with grade 1 scrambles.
Key features: Beautiful woodland walk, well-marked and maintained paths, multiple wild swimming spots along the route, stunning views from the top.
Please note: A grade 1 scramble is classed as an easy scramble with simple route finding and no requirement for technical skills or ropes but you may need to use your hands and this route definitely requires that. The route is slippery over the rocks and sure footedness is required as a slip could easily result in injury.
Fair Brook, one of the many brooks flowing down from the breathtaking and wild moorland that is the Kinder Scout plateau, eventually finds its way to the River Alport and down into the stunning Ladybower Reservoir. The scramble up Fair Brook is bouldery, slippery and a gentle uphill all the way but you’re rewarded at the end with a beautiful vantage point and, on a nice day, uninterrupted views in all directions.
Starting at the Forestry England car park in Snake Woodlands, the route starts by crossing the main road and heading down into Snake Woodland. An area popular with countless Peak District visitors, the woodlands really hold that magical spirit with towering pine trees occasionally making space for the sun to shine on the forest floor, the River Alport tricking alongside for paddling and swimming in and quite often, families and lone campers camping out on the river banks.
Unfortunately, Snake Woodlands is regularly strewn with discarded disposable BBQs, beer cans, bags of rubbish and other, shall we say, human waste that is never nice to come across from these very campers. With the number one rule to wild camping being Leave No Trace, it is truly heartbreaking to see the outdoors being left in such a state. Be mindful that there are no facilities here and to take anything home with you that you brought in.
Continuing with the route, after crossing the road and heading into the woodlands, you’ll soon see a beautifully photogenic bridge to cross leading you further into the forest. Keeping the river on your right hand side, pass another bridge and carry on through the woodland. Eventually, you’ll come out at the end of the woods and the path will take you high onto a cliff edge looking down at the river.
As you carry on along this path, another bridge crossing the river will appear in front of you. As you cross this bridge, you’ll soon see a brook with a handy signpost signalling Fair Brook and the start of your route. At first, Fair Brook is a mere trickle and the path to your right heads off alongside it. Eventually, the small river will appear more powerful and you’ll start to see some potential swim spots. Keep an eye out to your left hand side for the perfect waterfall pools. With absolutely no self control, I decided to stop at the first one I found rather than going to investigate further up before deciding. The swim spot was nestled down a steep slope (but one which has a well trodden path down) which would be slippery in wet weather and was hidden behind an overhanging tree branch.
With a small waterfall flowing over the edge, the pool is deep enough for a few strokes and the wall of stones at the end could be classed as a small infinity pool if you really use your imagination! Once you’ve had your wild swim fix, head back up to the path and carry on following it uphill. This is where, if you’re a beady eyed swim spot hunter, you’ll find other swimming spots; choosing which one to dip in is the most challenging part of the hike you’ll have come across so far! As you gain height, the moorland path will lead you to spectacular views back down the valley before reaching a noticeably more rocky section which marks the beginning of the scramble.
As you approach the huge, imposing bouldery section, there is an easier path to the right but to really feel the scrambling experience, I opted for a simple “straight up and see what happens” route. The scramble itself is Grade 1, as mentioned above, meaning there’s no technical demands but it definitely requires use of your hands, with some big steps up, lots of pulling yourself up and it was incredibly slippery on some rocks even after a period of no rain.
The way up is obvious here but the route you choose will come down to personal preference as you clamber up and over the rocks. Eventually, it becomes less demanding and as you continue following the river up towards the flat plateau at the top.
Once you reach the top, head along the small path to your right and onto the interesting rocky outcrop of Fairbrook Naze. The views here are sensational and really encourages you to feel the wilderness of this area. It’s the perfect place for lunch to take everything in while looking back down on the scramble you’ve just completed.
Once you reach the plateau at the top, retracing your steps back down is an option but there are plenty of other routes to make this into a circular back to Snake Woodlands too which will require some independent planning. However, if, like me, you’re a big fan of a scramble, then I recommend linking this one with Nether Red Brook - keep an eye out for the next blog with all the details you’ll need to tie in the two scrambles to make an awesome day out in the Peaks.
Map and key locations
Access the route on the OS Map App here.
1: Roadside parking at Snake Woodlands
2: Footbridge below end of woodlands to cross over the river
3: A series of waterfall pools
4: Beginning of the steeper, rocky scrambling section
5: Top of Fairbrook Naze marking the end of the scramble
Have you ever tried Komoot? Komoot allows you to access routes planned by others or plan your own which you can then download to your phone to follow while you are out. Komoot is free to join and access and you can find the route for his walk here.
- The parking area in Snake Woodlands fills up quickly on a nice day so be sure to get there early or late in the day for any chance of parking
- There are no facilities on this route or in the car park
- The scramble is slippery in places and requires sure footedness and confidence on rough, scrambly terrain.
- Appropriate footwear with good grip over mixed terrain is essential for this route
For additional UK outdoor adventures, wild swimming, hiking routes and more, check my other blog posts here on MY URBAN TRAIL and follow me @Wild_0utdoors on Instagram.