Out of the darkness and into the light in Derbyshire

Derbyshire's sharply contrasting landscapes meet in the Hope and Edale valleys. Mark Rowe reports
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The Independent Travel

The Peak District's two distinctive halves – the dark, northern gritstone and the southern, white, limestone – come together around the Hope and Edale valleys. This walk crosses these contrary landscapes, beginning with a level walk to Castleton before a stiffer second stretch climbing over a ridge and dropping down to Edale in the shadow of Kinder Scout.

The walk starts from the car park at Hope train station – just 30 minutes from Sheffield – and finishes at Edale station, offering the chance to leave the car behind and enjoy some of the pub hospitality along the way. Using the train will also bolster the efforts of the Peak National Park to promote public transport.

Walk up the station access road to the main road, the A625, and turn right towards Hope village. Already you will have splendid mountain views through the trees, with Mam Tor ahead and Win Hill up to your right.

The roadside path enters Hope and turns left down School Lane in front of St Peter's church. The church is worth exploration and dates from the 14th century. At the end of School Lane, turn left into Pindale Road and cross the bridge. Up the hill, turn right by the green bench along the public footpath signposted to Castleton, which threads its way alongside Peakshole Water. Cross a stile and a single track rail line and continue along the path, bearing to the right of a knoll of trees. The classic White Peak landscape is all around: drystone walls, green farmland, gently folded hills laced with streams, the 14th-century Peveril Castle – and a cement factory, the last of these serving as a reminder of the intensely utilised nature of this national park.

Follow waymarkers to a stile more or less straight ahead and then cross three further stiles. After the fourth, bear right to follow the river and pass a reservoir. Passing through a gate, the path takes you behind a barn and along a walled lane. At the end, turn left to enter Castleton.

Continue through Castleton and along Cross Street, following the main road for Mam Tor. Opposite the Peak Cavern car park turn right along a narrow stone-walled path between two houses. Then bear left along the path, following Odin Stitch, and cross a path. Keep ahead with the water on your right. Ahead of you are the steep Winnats Pass and the collapsed face of Mam Tor.

When you reach a bridge and a farm track, keep straight ahead, signposted for Mam Tor and Odin Mine. You can clearly see the rugged gritstone edges that enclose the Peak District on its eastern boundaries. The path passes Knowlegates Farm and then takes you up a short flight of steps and heads west towards a small copse. The path goes past remnants of the 13-century Odin Mine.

Walk up the path to join the A625, across which are more remains from the mine. The road abruptly terminates here. Leave the road at the hairpin bend and take the track down to Mam Farm. Go behind the farm and follow the track towards a group of cottages. Just before the entrance to the houses, take the path over a stile to the left into a conservation area. Cross a couple more stiles and then bear left uphill to start the climb to Hollins Cross. The ridge connects Mam Tor with Lose Hill. At the top, Edale comes into view, with Grindslow Knoll and Kinder Scout looming above it.

Bear left to begin the descent; after a few hundred yards bear left at the fork, following the blue waymarkers. Go through a stile and keep along the path until you finally reach a gate by Greenlands Farm. Here, turn right, signposted for Edale, and follow the paved road downhill it as it winds its way to the Edale Road. At the road, bear right to reach the village and train station.

Distance: Six miles

Time: Three hours

OS Map: OL 1, the Dark Peak.

Mark Rowe stayed at Croft View Cottage (01433 630711; croftview cottage.co.uk) in the centrally located village of Foolow, which is available from £400 per week, or £265 for a three-night break.

For more details on walking in the Peak District, see visitpeakdistrict.com, which also has information about the walking festival that begins on 19 April.

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