The Edale Skyline
Total ascent: 1128m
Est Time: 8-12 hours depending on speed, fitness and rest breaks
Starting location: Hope Train Station (S33 6RR)
Cost: £3 for all day parking with the RingGo app. Correct at time of writing (July 2023).
Dog friendly: Only if fit, healthy and able to walk long distances.
Key features: summits of Win Hill, Brown Knoll, Mam Tor, Back Tor and Lose Hill, rock formations towards the Kinder Scout plateau
The Edale Skyline, a circular loop which winds its way around the hills either side of the Edale Valley, is a spectacular long-distance hiking challenge. On this 20 mile route, you take in several summits and will finish by walking along the glorious Great Ridge before descending back down to the valley floor. If you’re looking for some of the most beautiful views in the Peak District and want to push yourself then look no further than the Edale Skyline!
Edale, the little village nestled below the watchful eye of Kinder Scout and at the end of the Edale Valley, is an incredibly popular destination with walkers, runners, cyclists and the odd few hundred tourists. On a sunny summer’s day, the village is bustling with crowds of people and the surrounding hills alive with cheerful and jubilant walkers.
Its popularity is easy to understand when you take into account its accessibility; 30 minutes from Manchester and Sheffield with a train station if you’re coming by public transport (Edale). This isn’t an area you head to if you want a peaceful, isolated hike but on the Edale Skyline you will find that some sections are much quieter than others. My friend Zoe and I completed this route under the warm Spring sunshine and only really bumped into the crowds near the popular sections of Kinder Scout and Mam Tor.
The Edale Skyline is a popular fell running race but that doesn’t mean you need to be a trail runner to attempt this route. On a clear and calm day, the Edale Skyline can be an excellent first time, long-distance hiking route with clear paths and relatively straight-forward navigation. This route starts from Hope Train Station and takes in the summits of Win hill, Brown Knoll Mam Tor, Back Tor and Lose Hill but also passes by an array of interesting rock formations, historical sites and famous locations along the way.
The route can be started from multiple places but this route starts from Hope Station, one of the more popular starting points.
Upon leaving the car park at Hope Train Station you head over the bridge which crosses the train track and follow the stream, uphill, through the fields. Eventually, you reach a stile on your right which you cross allowing you to cut across another farmers field until you reach a track called Parsons Lane.
Following this road will take you to a small hamlet called Aston and you eventually reach a right or left turn. Turn right onto Thornhill Lane then immediately left through the trees (look for the public footpath sign). Once you're on the public footpath, it’s simply a matter of following the path slowly uphill to the summit of Win Hill. From here, the views are stunning down into the valley and behind to Ladybower Reservoir and you can make out part of the route you’ll be doing towards the end of the day too.
Win Hill is a great little one to start with; it gets the legs warmed up and you’ll have done a chunk of elevation to start the day. We were even treated to a stunning cloud inversion during our attempt!
From the summit of Win Hill, the path takes you along the edge of a section of woodland, which for those budding historians, is actually where an old Roman Road to Hope begins. This road crosses the ridge of Win Hill and is a wide and well-defined path. Eventually, you reach the historic landmark of Hope Cross, a packhorse waymarker which would have been used in the past for directional guidance. Thank god we have maps now, eh?
Leaving Hope Cross behind you, your next hill to tackle is Crookstone Hill for which you head up the hillside to your left shortly after leaving Hope Cross. Look for the tree on its own and you’ll be on the right track! The path here rises gently uphill before topping out above a rocky outcrop and onto the ridge above the valley beneath you.
There is only one path to follow here and it eventually leads you towards Ringing Roger (an eroded rock that gets its name from the sound it makes when the wind blows over it) and some fascinating rock formations on Upper Tor. This is my favourite place for a little snack and photo stop as the views back down the valley and across to Mam Tor are breathtaking on a clear day.
Continuing on the path, you’ll see Grindsbrook Clough in front of you (a great, scrambly route for another day) before making a sharp right turn and crossing over a small stream and back again. Heading away from this area, you’ll now find yourself on Edale Moor and below the Kinder Scout plateau which is probably when you start to notice many, many, many more people. This section can feel wild at times especially when the cold wind bites and whistles through your bones. It’s quite exposed and can feel long after the hiking so far, therefore this is another section that is nice to take a quick pit stop on.
There’s some wonderful rock formations too along here called The Woolpacks, Pym Chair and Noe Stool that you’ll probably find yourself getting distracted by. These rock formations were formed over 320 millions years ago when the UK was actually located on the Earth’s equator when eroded material was deposited into the Pennine Basin. The rocks now have been weathered over thousands of years to form some remarkable shapes.
Your next checkpoint is the trig of Brown Knoll but this path can be a real joy killer. After leaving Edale Moor behind you and passing the descent of Jacob’s Ladder, the path winds through boggy moorland along a series of, what feels like never-ending, paving slabs. Reaching the trig is a welcome sight but don’t get too comfortable because you’ve got another never ending section of stone paving slabs in front of you again.
At the end of this section, you head left up a stony track and soon you are rewarded with the wondrous, and famous, view of Rushup Edge and Mam Tor in the distance. This section really feels like the home straight and you’ll start to feel that buzz of accomplishment seep in as you realise that this is the final section.
The Great Ridge and Mam Tor is iconic to the Peak District and this final section of the walk, once you cross the road, takes in the whole of the ridge, up Back Tor and along to Lose Hill. Mam Tor, meaning “Mother Hill” attracts hordes of walkers, experienced and beginners alike, who flock here to soak up the joy of this ridge. This will be the busiest section yet but the views make up for that and as you pass over the ridge, the views on each side down to Edale on one side and Castleton on the other are something special.
In the past, Mam Tor was a place of ancient civilisation with occupation believed to be from around 1200BC. The summit has two ancient hill forts, Bronze Age burials nearby and archaeological artefacts have also been recovered here. Read more about the ancient history of Mam Tor here.
The path along the Great Ridge is paved and incredibly well maintained that your feet will thank you for the easy work along here. Your final destination is the toposcope of Lose Hill, marking pretty much the end of the skyline (you just need to find enough energy to make it back to the car now). Soak in the views from here and take a moment to look back at the whole route you have covered that day; it’s a real accomplishment so allow yourself to be proud of your achievements.
Once you’re ready to leave the challenge behind you, head down hill, keeping left and not crossing the stile, back down towards Losehill Farm and the road that follows the river into the village of Hope. This road section is your final part of the walk and soon you’ll find yourself at the main road where you turn left and head back towards the train station.
This is a really wonderful route and is a great one for your first long distance challenge and one that will keep you coming back for another go time and time again even if you hear yourself uttering the words “never again” as you soothe your blister ridden feet and achy legs at the end of the day.
Map and key locations
Access the route on the OS Map App here.
1: Parking at Hope Train Station
2: Summit of Win Hill (463m)
3: Site of Hope Cross
4: Interesting rock formations at Upper Tor
5: Summit of Brown Knoll (569m)
6: The Great Ridge and the summit of Mam Tor (517m)
7: Back Tor
8: The summit of Lose Hill (476m and the last summit of the day)
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.
- Arrive at the car park early in the morning as it fills up quickly
- The Edale Skyline requires a good level of fitness and it is important to ensure you have practised some longer distance walking over rough terrain and with ascent before attempting the Edale Skyline
- As this is a long distance circular loop there aren’t many options to shorten the route.
- There are no facilities on this walk
- Most paths are obvious as you are following the edge however in poor weather, navigation could become harder and a wrong turn could be likely
Remember - the Peak District is a beautiful location that we want to keep beautiful for everyone to enjoy. Practise “Leave no Trace” and take all your rubbish home with you.
For more UK outdoor adventures, wild swimming, hiking routes and more, follow me @Wild_0utdoors on Instagram. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about this or any other route.