...hills in the Peak District
Many people come to the Peak District looking for a sharply pointed hill, which is the dictionary definition of a peak.
But they are often disappointed to find that the highest of the Peak District hills are broad and boggy flat-topped plateaux – such as Kinder Scout, Bleaklow and Black Hill.
Indeed, the only real “peaks” in the Peak District are the reef limestone hills of Chrome and Parkhouse in the Upper Manifold Valley of Staffordshire; the ridge-topped Shutlingsloe in the Cheshire Peak, and, from some angles, Win Hill and Lose Hill on the Great Ridge above the Hope Valley.
The misleading name of the Peak District comes from the Old English Peaclond and means “the land of the dwellers of the Peak” or the Pecsaetan, as the first settlers were called. It was probably these people who first named the hills of the Peak, and certainly Kinder Scout, the highest point at 2,088ft/636m, is a very ancient name. It probably means “water over the edge” – a fair description of the hill as seen from the west, where the 100-foot waterfall of Kinder Downfall is most prominent.
Interestingly, it was known as Nowstoole Hill on the earliest maps of the area, a reference to the prominent gritstone tor on the southern edge of the plateau as seen from the south in Edale. Later cartographers unwisely stuck the name “The Peak” over Kinder Scout, but that name has always referred to the district, rather than its highest point.
Kinder Scout has a special place in the history of the access movement as it was the scene of the celebrated Mass Trespass in 1932, when five ramblers were imprisoned for exercising their “right to roam.”
The vast, peaty expanse of Bleaklow, at 2,060ft/628m the second highest hill and the only other “mountain” in the Peak, is said to be the largest area of land in England uncrossed by a public road, and is much more of an untouched wilderness than its neighbour across the Snake Pass. The summit area was fenced off by Natural England in 2003 to keep sheep out, and has now revegetated to a heartening degree.
Black Hill, at 1,908ft/582m the highest point of the old county of Cheshire, has had a similar recent transformation, after an extensive programme of re-seeding and revegetation led by the Moors for the Future project. For many years, Black Hill was an impassable morass, memorably described by Wainwright in his Pennine Way Companion…. “no other (summit) shows such a desolate and hopeless quagmire to the sky.”
Last Updated: 5 Oct 2015