Autumn morning on Stanage Edge
Last light on Stanage Edge, Peak District

Stanage Edge 9 mile walk

...life on the edge

The four-mile long gritstone escarpment of Stanage Edge is the classic Peakland “edge” and has over 850 climbing routes up its short but steep faces...

Stanage Edge

The four-mile long gritstone escarpment of Stanage Edge is the classic Peakland “edge” and has over 850 climbing routes up its short but steep faces. This walk ascends the edge from Hathersage, allegedly the last resting place of Little John, passes North Lees Hall of Brontë fame, and visits Robin Hood’s Cave on Stanage, so has much of interest. 

Hathersage

Hathersage is a busy village on the A625 between Sheffield and the Hope Valley. In the 19th century, it was the home of a thriving needle, pin and wire-drawing industry, now disappeared, although the old mill buildings still remain. Many men were also employed on mill and grindstone making, and the remains of their industry, in the form of abandoned stones, is still very evident beneath the rock faces of Stanage and other edges.  

But perhaps Hathersage’s main claim to fame is the abnormally long “grave” just outside the church porch, which is claimed to be that of Robin Hood’s faithful lieutenant Little John, who is said to have come from Hathersage. The church itself, dating mainly from the 14th and 15th centuries, has many monuments to members of the Eyre family, the local lords of the manor, inside, and a chancel window which was rescused from the now-submerged Derwent church. 

Beyond the church, the mysterious earthworks of Camp Green tell of an even earlier occupation and probably date from the Dark Ages. 

From the centre of the village, walk due north up Baulk Lane, which soon reverts to a clear track after passing over a cattle grid. Crossing a couple of stiles, the path keeps above the Hood Brook and passes through the grounds of Brookfield Manor

and enters a narrow walled path. This eventually leads to a minor road, where you turn right, and then left up the drive to North Lees Hall. 

North Lees Hall

This fine Tudor tower house dates from the last years of the 16th century and was one of the homes of the Eyre family, who are said to have come to England with the Conqueror. It is said that Robert Eyre, the patriarch of the family who lived across the valley at the quaintly-named Highlow Hall, built a hall for each of his seven sons within sight of his own house, and North Lees was one of these. 

North Lees Hall, which now provides exclusive holiday accommodation, is also thought to have been the model which Charlotte Brontë used for Thornfield Hall in her novel Jane Eyre. It is known that Charlotte often visited her good friend, Ellen Nussey, who lived at the Hathersage Vicarage, and knew the area and its families well. The North Lees estate, including its camp site, is owned by the National Park Authority. 

Pass through the farmyard of North Lees and follow the path upwards towards Stanage Edge, which is now ahead. Go up through the trees by a stream to emerge at the raod beneath Stanage Edge, turning left and then right before reaching the Hollin Bank car park, to ascend a path leading up towards the edge. 

This paved route is known as Jacob’s Ladder and leads through the scattered pines of the Stanage Plantation to climb through a weakness in the crags to reach the top of the edge.  

Stanage Edge

Stanage Edge can sometimes resemble Piccadilly Circus, with the escarpment of grey gritstone festooned with climbers, while overhead, hang-gliders soar in the thermals.  

There are climbing routes of all standards here, from the testpieces set up in the Fifties

by climbers like Joe Brown and Don Whillans, to the easier routes for beginners, many of whom come from the surrounding cities and will have started their climbing here.  The first climbs on Stanage were done in before the First World War, but it was working class climbers like Brown and Whillans who really opened it up, with classic routes like the Right Unconquerable and Manchester Buttress. 

Follow the edge-top path left which descends as the Long Causeway joins it from the right from the landmark of Stanage Pole. Keep to the edge which gradually climbs through the rocks and heather to the high point of High Neb, and its trig point. 

High Neb

“Neb” is a Northern word meaning “nose” and this 458m/1,502ft blunt nose of gritstone forms the high point of the Stanage Edge escarpment. The view from here is justly popular among walkers, and a few steps further takes you to Crow Chin, where the Stanage escarpment turns north by the remains of two ancient burial cairns. 

The view westwards is over the Derwent Valley and up to Win Hill and Lose Hill, with the broad Bamford Moor forming the foreground and the long line of the Kinder Scout plateau, with Bleaklow beyond, the horizon. 

You have a choice of routes to return to Jacob’s Ladder, either retracing your steps along the edge top path, or dropping down from Crow Chin along the path which winds between the boulders and discarded millstones back to the paved track.  

Whichever way you take, return to the edge top path at Jacob’s Ladder and continue along the edge of White Path Moss, with extensive views across the Derwent

Valley to Hathersage and Offerton Moor beyond. You soon pass the gristone balcony cut into the edge known as Robin Hood’s Cave on your right.  

Passing the trig. point (457m/1,499 ft) at the end of the main escarpment, head for the Cowper Stone but cross the moor to head for the Ringinglow road, reaching it near Upper Burbage Bridge. The valley of the Burbage Brook is ahead.  

Turn right and descend on the Fiddler’s Elbow road over a cattle grid and, with Higger Tor ahead, take the right hand path which leads across Callow Bank to a stile into a walled lane on the left. This ascends to the road junction at Mitchell Fold where you descend on this lane for an easy mile down Dale Bottom and back into Hathersage again.  

Factfile

Start/finish: Car park in the centre of Hathersage

Distance: About 14km/9 miles

Approximate time: About five hours

Highest point: High Neb, Stanage 458m/1,502ft

Maps: OS Explorer Sheet 1, The Dark Peak

Refreshments: Cafes and pubs in Hathersage, refreshments at Stanage in summer

Terraun: Mainly on field paths and lanes, with a moorland section 

These walks have been adapted from Roly Smith’s Rambler’s Guide to the Peak District, published by Harper Collins 

© Let's Stay Peak District 
 

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015