This is a Tom Takeover… I’m Max’s husband (the other half of ‘ItTakesAJourney’ and last year I ventured to the breath-taking Peak District National Park with friends Cal, T (and Willow the dog) for two days of hiking and wild camping.
Max and I walked the Appalachian Trail in 2017 and I’ve missed the trail ever since, so I jumped at the chance to get the backpack back on on and get out there to share the long-distance trail love with Cal and T. They haven’t done many multi-day hikes but were eager to get out on trail and get some miles and wild camping experience under their belts.
The 20-mile Edale Skyline Trail can be hiked in a day and in either direction but the undulating route seemed challenging enough for two days and varying, although reasonable, fitness levels so we decided to spread out the fun.
Considered one of the best long-distance hikes in the Peak District and a popular fell-running area, we loved every minute. The trail was varied, had some great challenging sections and there was no end to the breath-taking views.
You can jump onto the trail from various locations including Edale, Castleton and Upper Booth. We parked in Upper Booth and walked about an hour to the trailhead.
From the moment you leave the car there are spectacular views at every turn. From the quaint country roads you have winding stone walls, quaint bridges over trickling waterways and the meandering stone paths and steps of the trail to guide you over the rolling hills, with a good measure of bog and grassland in between.
We headed up the notoriously tough Jacobs Ladder, one of the main routes up to Kinder Scout, the highest point in the national park. It’s a shorter but steeper way to the top, particularly ‘fun’ on a muggy summer’s day and a great way to get the legs pumping.
But once you’ve climbed high you can ramble along the stone pathway and onward towards Mam Tor and her fellow peaks, taking care at all times not to step into the bog either side of the path because as solid as it looks, it will steal your shoes given the chance.
After prying Cal’s shoe from the bog, with the help of some fellow hikers, we continued along the trail, with blue skies and peaks all around with plenty of places to stop for snacks and a 360-degree view.
We reached Mam Tor and so had everyone else, a popular lunch spot we took our photos, had a snack and ventured on searching for a slightly less spot. The name Mam Tor means ‘Mother Hill’ due to the frequent landslips that have resulted in smaller hills that lie at her feet.
The trail rolled up and down to the peaks of Hollins Cross, Back Tor and Lose Hill before we finally dropped down into the ancient village of Hope, considered the ‘Gem of the Peak District’. It was certainly a gem for us as we frequented a local pub for a cold pint (or two), some cheesy chips to refuel and a rest for our tired feet.
Then it was time to climb up and out of Hope. A slow arduous hike under the hot afternoon sun (made harder from the couple of pints and heavier from the chips) but we eventually made it and the views looking back toward Mam Tor ensured it was all worthwhile and any pain forgotten.
We kept on until we reached an area of woodland, the only on the trail, where we found an inconspicuous area off trail to set up our tents and hammock, and as always adhering to Leave No Trace. We did have to walk down to the reservoir for water resupply which added 40 minutes to the day, so it’s recommended to carry out water from Hope if you don’t want to make this extra trip.
Waking to glorious sunshine, we began another beautiful summer’s day hike, with less challenging climbs than the first day and were rewarded to far-reaching views of the national park and hazy glimpses of the surrounding peaks once again.
The ever-changing terrain and varied views keep the miles interesting on this route, from grassland track and winding paths to big rock stepping stones and giant boulder towers to navigate, I knew we were never too far from civilisation but at times it really did feel like we had escaped into the rugged wilderness.
We kept our sore feet plodding as the sun kept shining but tired spirits were still high as we headed back round to finish the circuit and down the way we had begun, descending Jacob’s Ladder and making our way back to the cars (to the relief of T’s blistered feet).
For me it was great to head out on this long-distance trail with friends who were less familiar with longer hikes, they loved the experience and we’re already planning the next one – with much lighter packs and more sun cream!
Stone paths, grassy knolls and plenty of steps. This is a challenging route and recommended for those with a reasonable level of fitness.
Things to know before you go
- Hiking in summer is less muddy but the route is mostly exposed so be prepared year-round for changeable weather conditions by packing extra layers, food and water, as well as sun protection.
- Water – We collected water on the trail and used a Sawyer Squeeze water filter but if in doubt boiling would have been ideal.
- Accommodation – There are alternative accommodation options in and around Hope, including campsites, hotels and bed and breakfasts.
I made a video of our hike, you can watch it here.