Camping & Hiking the Pennine Way | Peak District, UK
Do a quick research about the country you live in and I can almost bet that you’ll realise you don’t have to travel to faraway destinations in order to hike alluring landscapes, chase beautiful sunsets and sleep under the stars.
A great example of this in the UK is Peak District. Even if it’s not the closest geographically coming from, say, southern parts of the country, you can pack a lot in one weekend.
There are quite a few options for accommodation, however, providing there are no weather extremes on the forecast, camping is the best and cheapest option. We stayed at the North Lees Campsite and that only cost us £9 per night, per person, including the parking fee for the car (which is only a mere £2). There are modest toilets and shower facilities on site and overall it is a pleasant and clean place to stay.
The best part about our campsite was undoubtedly the proximity to Stanage Edge. It’s a short 30 min walk up to the top and you can make it directly from the back of the campsite, through the woodlands, via a trail that leads you all the way - hard to miss, but in any case there is welcoming staff around the campsite to ask for directions, which we did.
From what we could gather, it’s a popular practice place for mountain climbers and boulderers. We had such a good time hitting the rocks and enjoying the views that we came back the next day for the sunset and it melted our cheesy hearts. We also took so many pictures of sheep, we could probably start our own sheep stock photo selling business.
The best day out in Peak District however is a good old hike. The most famous one, the Pennine Way, was the first ever National Trail, opened in 1965, and in its full length stretches out to 268 miles or 430 km, going along rugged hilltops and enchanting landscapes just reaching the Scottish border.
We’re not hardcore hikers though,and luckily there are many different routes to choose from. Given our time restrictions, we chose the Pennine Way path to the Kinder Scout plateau. The little town of Edale was our starting point, and having taken the suggestion of the knowledgeable and friendly staff at the Moorland Information Centre, we kind of did it backwards, having the Grindsbrook Clough valley scramble as an initial challenge that most people leave for the end of their trip.
In the end, it was the best choice, as the path goes alongside this picturesque stream with a few waterfalls and there was an ascend bit that required some scrambling up the rocks. It would not be a fun and smooth walk down in our opinion.
There were some challenging parts but the breeze and flat enough ground at the top of the valley that greeted us with a stunning view made it all worthwhile.
The only real issue for us was the lack of clear signage, which combined with our poor map interpretation skills lead us into a shorter walk than initially planned. We thought we were following the map thoroughly only to find that we were on the wrong route and already descending back towards Edale, which ultimately cut about a half of the intended 8 mile (13km) walk short.
But we weren’t bummed out about it for too long, especially after stopping by a lovely 16th century pub that we saw on the way out, The Old Nags Head, serving a hearty Sunday roast with a vegan option (as in, by removing the meat). Almost a post-hike dream meal to be honest, and the guy serving it made sure to stop by our table and make us aware we could top up on the veggies as much as we wanted.
As we got treated to lot of sunshine and hot weather, we were on the lookout for a place to go for a swim. However, due to preservation reasons, it is not permitted in water reservoirs and most places in Peak District (unlike in Snowdonia National Park where there are plenty of wild swimming spots).
If you’re driving, there’s a fairly popular spot called Slippery Stones relatively nearby. However, final stretch of the road that leads up to it is closed on the weekends. Wanting to save our legs for a bigger hike over the next couple of days, we ended up giving it a pass because that bit of closed road meant a good 3+ hours walk.
On the remaining weekdays, when that road is open, you’re only a 20 minute drive away from the Fairholmes Visitor Centre. If like us you get there for the weekend and don’t fancy the walk, there’s always the option of renting a bike to the visitor centre. Just make sure those legs are ready for the uphill ride.
Overall, however much time you can spend and whatever the level of intensity of the hike or stroll you choose, Peak District makes for a great weekend or longer getaway if you’re into hiking and outdoor activities and you are happy with Nature being the number one attraction.