10 top Peak District hill climbs

Rainbow from Mam Tor Photo: Gary Wallis

Rainbow from Mam Tor Photo: Gary Wallis - Credit: Archant

Experienced walker and author of several Peak District books, Peter Naldrett selects his ten favourite hill climbs

View from The Roaches by Ken Cox

View from The Roaches by Ken Cox - Credit: Archant

There’s nothing better than standing on top of a tall hill in good weather, enjoying the view and a great sense of achievement. Fortunately, we’re blessed with lots of wonderful peaks in Derbyshire – but choosing which one to climb can be a tricky decision.

Remember that every trip out into the hills needs planning for: you must make sure that you are dressed for the weather, have a pair of sturdy boots on and carry a map to follow your planned route.

Mam Tor Dawn by Jon Kidd

Mam Tor Dawn by Jon Kidd - Credit: Archant

Mam Tor
Park in the car park halfway up the ‘shivering mountain’ and enjoy the short walk to the triangulation pillar on the summit, which gives amazing views of Hope Valley. While you’re in the area, make sure you pay a visit to the old road just beyond the Blue John Mine, which gives an insight into just how unstable and transitory this peak of shale and sandstone can be. It looks as if it’s been in an earthquake, but the damage was caused by landslides.

The summit of Win Hill Photo: Gary Wallis

The summit of Win Hill Photo: Gary Wallis - Credit: Archant

Win Hill
Once you’re at the top of this rocky Peak District gem, you’ll get a view of Ladybower Reservoir that is reserved for those who’ve made the strenuous climb. There are various ways to get to the summit of Win Hill, and some are a lot easier than others. The most challenging is the direct route from Yorkshire Bridge, heading up the steep and slippery Parkin’s Clough. Parking is available on the roadside near the bridge, down the steep road close to the Yorkshire Bridge pub.

Kinder Scout from Upper Holt Photo: Gary Wallis

Kinder Scout from Upper Holt Photo: Gary Wallis - Credit: Archant

Kinder Scout
The tallest of the Peak District hills, this is a rite of passage for Peak District hillwalkers and all those in love with the national park will attempt it at some point. There are various routes to the plateau and a choice of three different triangulation pillars marking the highest spots. For me, the best path to the top leaves from Edale, up Grindsbrook Clough to the peaty and rocky lunar landscape up there on Kinder. The train station and car park made this a popular place to walk from, giving the added advantage of being able to pop in the pub afterwards to celebrate your achievement!

Back Tor and the Great Ridge Photo: Gary Wallis

Back Tor and the Great Ridge Photo: Gary Wallis - Credit: Archant

Back Tor
Set out from the car park near The Strines pub and follow the well-established track all the way across the moor to the fabulous ridge overlooking Derwent Valley. As you approach it, you’ll see the incredible tors that have been formed here over thousands of years by weathering processes, the exposure to the elements shaping these gritstone features into fabulous and mysterious shapes. Back Tor is the crown of all the tors in this area, a picture perfect collection of rocks with a trig point marking the highest point and affording fantastic views.

Black Hill, Peak District by matthewblack is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Flickr) @matthewblack

Black Hill, Peak District by matthewblack is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Flickr) @matthewblack - Credit: Archant

Black Hill
If you attempted to climb Black Hill 15 years ago, your memories may well be of a boggy nightmare, with the actual peak being practically impossible to reach. Things are different now atop this 528-metre peak, which is the highest point in West Yorkshire and positioned close to the Holme Moss transmitting station. Moors For The Future has been hard at work here, ensuring the precious peat landscape is looked after as well as laying a new path that gives easy access to the top. For the best route up, choose one of the two paths from the A635.

Thorpe Cloud Photo: Gary Wallis

Thorpe Cloud Photo: Gary Wallis - Credit: Archant

Thorpe Cloud
The fossil-based rocks that make up the joyous hill known as Thorpe Cloud make this climb even more attractive. You can discover 350-million-year-old fossils right beneath your feet with minimal effort, making this a stand-out walk. The fact that you can park up in Dovedale to begin this one makes it even more sublime. Walk by the River Dove and cross over the famous stepping stones before making the climb to Thorpe Cloud – and there is a cracking ice-cream shop in the car park once you’ve earned a reward! 

Spring On Bleaklow by Andy Hemingway

Spring On Bleaklow by Andy Hemingway - Credit: Archant

You’ll need a map, compass and GPS on this one, for sure. Bleaklow is indeed bleak and the weather on this barren peaty moorland can change for the worse in an instant; the last thing you want to do is get lost on Bleaklow. But on a clear, sunny day with a map and a well-planned walk, this is a real treat to explore upon. Because it’s Access Land, you can wander to find the hidden secrets that most people miss out on. These include the triangulation pillar from the 1930s marking the top spot and the 1940s’ wreckage of a plane that crashed in bad weather. The best access is from the A57 on the top of Snake Pass.

Alport Castles Photo: Gary Wallis

Alport Castles Photo: Gary Wallis - Credit: Archant

Alport Castles
This is one of the Peak District’s premier attractions, but it’s a walk which is unknown to many people. Setting out from Fairholmes in the Derwent Valley, the route is steep at first but levels out and rewards you with outstanding views. And then you reach a ridge and can see the wonder of Alport Castles, thought to be the result of the largest landslide in the UK’s history. The result is a pile of debris which, from a distance, looks like a motte and bailey castle – and, because it’s near the River Alport, hence the name.

The Roaches Photo: Thinkstock/R.G.McCraight

The Roaches Photo: Thinkstock/R.G.McCraight - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Roaches
This is, without a doubt, one of the most striking landscapes in the country, never mind the Peak District. Tackle this one from Roaches Gate Car Park, a mile to the west of Upper Hulme, and it’ll be a really cracking day out. There is a ridge to enjoy, magical woodland, a mini gorge and some bewildering rock formations that you can get up close to – that’s some mix for an afternoon in your walking boots. The best bit is the view, though – so save it for a clear day, when you’ll be able to look out over the Cheshire Plains and make out the mountains of Snowdonia in Wales.

Higger Tor Photo: Gary Wallis

Higger Tor Photo: Gary Wallis - Credit: Archant

Higger Tor
Park up at Burbage Bridge and press on towards this magnificent hill in a world-class setting. The rocky path to the summit takes you over peaty ground, but look out for the sandy, gritty material at your feet as you walk around here. This has been eroded from the distinctive rocks in these parts and then, with the help of the wind, helps to batter the existing rocks into weird and wonderful shapes. The whole of the valley around Burbage Brook is simply beautiful and after your ascent up Higger Tor there is a lovely round walk which takes you to the other side of the river and beneath Burbage Edge. This is a place you will certainly want to return to!

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