Edale Visitor Guide
Officially the beginning (or end) of the Pennine Way, Edale attracts the hardiest of walkers, situated as it is in the shadow of the Kinder Scout plateau, at 2,088ft (636m), the highest point in the UK's first National Park. Roly Smith reveals more...
INTRODUCTION: VALLEY OF THE BOOTHS
Edale is a Mecca for the hardiest Peak District walkers, situated as it is in the shadow of the Kinder Scout plateau, at 2,088ft (636m), the highest point in the National Park. It is perhaps best known by walkers as the starting (or finishing) point of Tom Stephenson’s classic marathon long-distance path, the Pennine Way, which sets off on its 270-mile route to Kirk Yetholm, just across the Scottish Border, from the Nags Head pub in Edale village.
Edale is actually made up of five separate farming hamlets, each of which has the suffix “booth” – a Tudor word signifying a temporary shelter for herdsmen. From the east, the Edale booths are Nether Booth, Ollerbrook Booth, Grindsbrook Booth, Barber Booth and Upper Booth, although the name of Edale village is usually given to the largest of these, Grindsbrook Booth.
Along with the railway station, village school and post office, the Peak District National Park’s Moorland Centre (see below), is also here at Fieldhead, along with the 300-year-old Nag’s Head Inn, where the Pennine Way officially starts.
Much of the surrounding moorland, including most of Kinder Scout and most of the farms in Edale, are now in the hands of the National Trust, and livestock farming, particularly of sheep, is still the main enterprise.
WHERE IS IT?
Edale is five miles north east of Chapel-en-le-Frith, on the minor road from the A625 as it approaches Castleton, or from Hope.
The earliest signs of human activity in Edale have been the tiny slivers of flint known as microliths, which have been discovered emerging from the peat high on the Kinder plateau. These are evidence that Mesolithic hunter-gatherers came to this high ground on hunting expeditions about 6,000 years ago.
Although much of the area was forested then, the creation of the Royal Forest of the Peak by William Peveril of Castleton after the Norman Conquest of 1066 did not imply it was still forested then. Certainly, much of Edale and Kinder Scout fell within this royal hunting preserve, the boundary of which may be marked by Edale Cross, a fine medieval landmark on the western shoulder of Kinder Scout. Although there is a date of 1610 inscribed on it, it is thought to be of much earlier origin.
The 18th century Edale Mill on the River Noe, just down the valley to the east of Edale village, was originally built as a corn mill but was later converted to a cotton mill by Nicolas Cresswell. It is now owned by the Landmark Trust and provides holiday accommodation.
The Sheffield to Stockport railway line, built by the Midland Railway in 1894, really opened up Edale to tourists and the outside world. Its construction was a massive feat of civil engineering, and when it was built, the two-mile-long Cowburn Tunnel under Brown Knoll was one of the longest in the country. This scenic route is known as the “Ramblers’ Route” and is used by walkers coming from either side of the Pennines.
PLACES TO GO
The Parish Church
Edale's charming Holy & Undivided Trinity church stands in front of a backdrop of Kinder Scout and is the third church to occupy this site.
The Moorland Centre
You enter the Peak District National Park’s Moorland Centre at Fieldhead under a waterfall tumbling over glass panels into a pool. The circular building has a living roof of sedum turf which acts as an eco-friendly insulator, and the building is fuelled by an energy saving ground-source heat pump. Headquarters of the Moors for the Future Partnership, the centre provides a national focus for moorland restoration research. Regular talks are given and guided walks start from here during the season, and there is an excellent audio-visual show.
The Edale Country Day, held annually in June, supports Edale School and Village Hall and is a delightful small country show where the whole community works together to provide something for everyone. Music is usually provided by the Hope Valley College Big Band and Castleton Silver Band, and there are craft demonstrations, country dancing and all kinds of animals on show.
THINGS TO DO
The best introduction to Kinder Scout is to follow the paved path of the official Pennine Way, which now skirts around the southern slopes of the mountain and heads for Upper Booth and the easy ascent up the steps of Jacob’s Ladder, an ancient packhorse route which leads up from a narrow bridge over a shoulder of Kinder. This leads to the ancient boundary marker known as Edale Cross (see above).
Alternatively, you could follow the broad path of the former main route of the Pennine Way over the famous log bridge and through Grindsbrook Meadows into the Grindsbrook Gorge, returning from the plateau into the village by the holloway known as the Sled Road, which was used to transport peat for fuel down into the village.
There are many other shorter, family-length walks in the Edale valley, if you are not experienced enough to head for the heights.
FOOD AND DRINK
The 16th century Old Nag’s Head (01433 670291) at the top of Edale village is popular with walkers, particularly those setting out to tackle the Pennine Way, which starts just outside the front door. The strains of Ewan MacColl’s ‘The Manchester Rambler’ will often be heard coming from the snug in this family and walker-friendly pub, which features oak beams and open fires in winter, hand-pulled ales and home-cooked food.
Just down the road is The Rambler Country House Hotel (01433 670268), formerly known as the Church Inn, which also welcomes walkers and is another popular starting point for people setting out on the Pennine Way. It's also the venue for middle section of the monthly Edale Rambler Folk Train.
SELECTED EDALE HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION
Holiday accommodation in these parts is not in short supply, be it in and around Edale including the village itself, Grindsbrook Booth, or on the Edale side of the Hope Valley. See the full list of Edale accommodation.
For a classy romantic break you could do worse than the five star Taylors Croft Cottage – this sleeps two in a four poster bed. Ollerbrook Cottages are home to a pair of five star holiday homes – one sleeping three, the other sleeping five – while Western House B&B is a beautiful house providing intimate bed & breakfast accommodation in a luxury loft conversion.
Edale Bed & Breakfasts
Castleton: castle, caverns and shops
Chapel-en-le-Frith: ancient market town
Chestnut Centre, near Chapel: wildlife park
Sheffield: with its shops, galleries and museums
Buxton: spa town and shopping centre
Tourist Information Centres
The Moorland Centre, Fieldhead, Edale, Hope Valley S33 7SZ; 01433 670207; www.peakdistrict.gov.uk
Castleton Visitor Centre, Buxton Road, Castleton, Hope Valley S33 8WN, 01629 816558; www.peakdistrict.gov.uk.
Public toilets and car park
On the main road into the village.
Doctors: Evelyn Medical Centre, Marsh Avenue, Hope, Hope Valley S33 6RJ
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Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015