Even little legs can stride out in the Peaks

The Derbyshire countryside offers good walking for families with toddlers in tow, says Mark Rowe

There are battles to win with children, and battles you choose to lose. On Baslow Edge, one of the gritstone edges that flank the Peak District in Derbyshire, we realised we were about to lose a battle with our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Hannah. "I'm going to walk in a big, big, big, big muddy puddle," Hannah announced. Ignoring my threat to withdraw various treats, she marched up to a particularly forbidding puddle and sank in it to well above her knees.

Nothing out of the ordinary in that, except for the location. Baslow Edge runs for half a mile at a height of 985ft in the east of the Peak District and the four of us, my wife, daughter and son, Thomas – aged 14 months and tucked up in a pushchair – were out for a morning's buggy walking.

The wind was freshening but the sky was blue and dotted with cotton-wool clouds, and there was a shared family feeling of euphoria. Just because you have young children, you don't have to forgo a lifelong passion for walking; and while we have frequently used a baby carrier when hiking, we were curious to find out just how far you could venture with a pushchair.

Most people reach Baslow Edge by taking on the stiff climb from the village of Baslow in the Derwent Valley below. Instead, we parked in the car park on the minor road to the north of the edge and used the paved, wheelchair access route for the first 200 yards. This route then peels off to a viewpoint but we pressed on ahead, towards the Eagle Stone, an imposing, isolated weathered lump of gritstone marooned in moorland. The path was not only muddy but also rocky, but it was more than manageable and there were no stiles.

The views over the Derwent Valley were tremendous. Across the valley was Birchen Edge and the Nelson monument – a narrow plinth, topped with a stone ball paying tribute to a seafaring hero in a landlocked county. A curiosity, it was erected after the Battle of Trafalgar, 57 years before Nelson's column was raised in London.

The children didn't particularly take the views on board, but Thomas spent the journey making approving gurgling noises and pointing at the clouds as they blew overhead, while Hannah, when not investigating every puddle, was heaving herself into the springy heather and generally wearing herself out to the point where she would sleep soundly that night. It was also striking just how quickly, and eagerly, she learnt to distinguish between the droppings of horses, sheep and cows.

Just beyond the Eagle Stone we paused to look down the valley, having first checked that the edge did not end in a precipitous drop. We could trace the Derwent as it nudged its way towards Chatsworth House, semi-hidden in woodland two miles away. We then turned left to follow the old "Chesterfield Roade", a high moorland carriage route for the Dukes of Devonshire, to the Wellington Monument before retracing our steps.

Baslow Edge is not an officially designated buggy-friendly route. I thought it worth giving it a go as I had independently walked the area a few years previously. But the Peak District, which has an extraordinary collection of hillocks, dales, cloughs and mountains shoehorned into its 555 square miles, is also one of the best places to find level, family-oriented walks. If you're going to buy into the idea of buggy walks, a standard pram will be hopeless: you will need one of the "all-terrain" pushchairs with pumped-up wheels.

One of the best walks is the Monsal Trail, which draws on the heritage of the network of train lines that used to run through the region. Part of the former Midland Railway Line through the national park, which closed in 1968, it provides level and usually paved though interrupted access for eight miles from Blackwell Mill Junction, east of Buxton to Coombs Viaduct, south-east of Bakewell. The only breaks are where the train line runs through limestone tunnels, which have proved prohibitively expensive to maintain.

We chose a two-mile stretch that headed east towards Bakewell from Miller's Dale in the Wye Valley. Another theoretical plus for small children is that dogs are required to be kept on leads along the path, though we found that this was rarely observed. The path is a delight, walkable in all weathers and full of wildlife. The underlying limestone, alkaline soils and deep valleys provide a nutrient-rich habitat for wildlife and make the path much more than somewhere you merely push a buggy. We crossed a spectacular viaduct just to the east of Miller's Dale; down below was a sweeping gorge while above on the hillsides were ancient remnants of field terraces, known as lynchets.

In the course of a week, we learnt to gauge how far the children would tolerate walking in one day. As a general rule of thumb, we found that a child of two and half years can cope with walking two and half kilometres (about 1.5 miles) before tiredness, tantrums and boredom collided. A walk through the grounds of Chatsworth, which under foot looks as buggy-friendly as anywhere, went pear-shaped because we exceeded this distance. And it made little sense to tackle every walk we had researched: the Peak Forest Tramway Trail, which runs from Buxworth to Chapel-en-le-frith, and which was strongly recommended by friends, will have to wait.

Compact facts

How to get there

Mark Rowe stayed at Croft View Cottage (01433 630711; croftview cottage.co.uk
) in the centrally located village of Foolow, which is available from £440 per week, or £295 for a three-night break.

Further information

For more details on walking in the Peak District and the Monsal Trail, go to derbyshireuk.net/peak district_walking.html. For the Peak Forest Tramway, go to highpeak. gov.uk/culture/tramway.pdf. For more about the region see discovereastmidlands.com

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game