We chose to start the day in Edale as it has good parking (and a pub when you finish) and the path up onto the plateau via Ringing Roger is one of the easiest ways up. We walked the circuit in an anti-clockwise direction because the sections of the craggy rim around Kinder Downfall and Grinds Brook are often very crowded. By doing the walk this way round you encounter these sections last and finding them deserted in the evening light adds to the enjoyment (and makes for better photographs).
There is a large car park in Edale – bring plenty of change as it is pay and display and cost us £5 for a day’s parking.
Take the road to The Old Nags Head Inn and follow the Grinds Brook path. Once on the other side of the river fork away to the right to climb the hill via zigzags onto the Nab. There are quite a few paths from here up onto the edges but it’s best to stay close to the arête that leads up to Ringing Roger. It looks rocky and steep, but actually the path winds its way quite easily and soon you are standing on the rocky formations of Ringing Roger enjoying the view.
Just behind the rock outcrops there is a fence with a stile which leads up to a large cairn on the circumnavigational path, turn right here and follow your nose! This section is a nice level stroll, crossing a few small streams, always with a lovely view across the valley to the Great Ridge.
Beyond Jaggers Clough there is a crossing of the ways, don’t fork left (which leads towards the Mad Woman’s Stones) but keep on going until you reach the eastern apex of Crookstone Knoll. There is sudden change in atmosphere here as the traffic on the Snake Pass road can be heard – in contrast to the quietness of the previous section. There are views across to Alport Castles and the Derwent Edges in the distance.
The path now turns left (westwards) along the top of the small outcrop of Crookstone Knoll. This section is probably the worst for navigation as it is not often used. Most of the worn paths are heading up to Mad Woman’s Stones and the Edale Moor trig point, but we want to keep with edge as much as possible. Soon the path comes more worn and visible again as it follows the top of Blackstone Edge, passing some rock outcrops and small streams. The drop off the edge steepens more and more as you approach Blackden Brook, making for some wonderful walking.
Once past Blackden Brook the path head north for a while before turning the corner at the Seal Stones to follow the top of Seal Edge. Another nice section leads past the climbing buttresses of the Chinese Wall to cross the stream of Fair Brook. Once again the path heads north for a short section to lead to the rocky outcrop and formations on the promontory of Fairbrook Naze. This is a wonderful spot with fantastic views across Black Ashop Moor onto Featherbed Moss and Bleaklow.
The next section follows Ashop Edge westwards and is magnificent walking. It takes the tops of numerous rocky outcrops and the views are always stunning. Keep your eyes peeled for the wonderfully shaped Boxing Glove Rock (you’ll recognize it as soon as you see it!). The height of the edge gradually drops away, but the path continues onwards. Soon you see the path of the Pennine Way coming in over Ashop Head. Stay with the path straight ahead until you meet the Pennine Way at the top of Mill Hill Rocks. Turn left and within a few minutes you’ll be looking down onto Kinder Reservoir above Hayfield.
The whole section from Crookstone Knoll to Mill Hill Rocks takes longer than you think so don’t underestimate it.
The western edge of the plateau is split by Kinder Downfall, and as this feature attracts a lot of visitors this section is likely to be much busier than the previous one.
The path meanders along the edge past Sandy Heys, getting higher as it approaches the waterfall at Kinder Downfall. Depending on the wind it may be an upfall(!) with the water being blown straight up in the air. Having jumped across the Kinder River above the Downfall, the path heads south, still following the edge. As the craggy rim starts to fade, the trig point on Kinder Low comes into view on the left. Navigation can be difficult here, keep to right of Kinder Low heading for Edale Rocks where the Pennine Way again becomes visible. Follow the paved path to the Swines Back, but instead of following it down to Edale Cross and Jacobs Ladder turn left and head straight for the Noe Stool.
This last section of the walk is also very popular, although it is likely that by the time you reach here (if you’re going clockwise from Edale) you will have most of the hill to yourself.
The patch continues on from the Noe Stool to the Pagoda by a path that is paved in sections to reduce erosion. There are nice views down the vale of Edale with the Great Ridge opposite. Once past the Pagoda you enter the wonderful region of the Woolpacks. Known locally as Whipsnade, this is a scattered collection of fantastically eroded gritstone tors (or boulders), shaped by the harsh weather and wind to resemble animal, human, or abstract shapes. Walking though them in the evening light, when the shadows are longer and more prominent and you’d swear that some of them move!
Leaving the Woolpacks behind, you come to Crowden Tower and the path descends steeply to cross Crowden Brook. From here the way becomes paved again and heads across to the left of Grindslow Knoll straight to Grindsbrook Towers at the top of Grinds Brook. The Pennine Way alternate route descends straight down to the bottom of Grinds Brook, but we turn left and follow the edge to a flatter crossing point.
Once over Grinds Brook the finally section is reached, a nice flat sandy path that proceeds across the top of Upper Tor. The views are great across to Mam Tor and Ringing Roger soon comes into view. As the path crosses the top of Nether Tor the path leading down beyond Golden Clough is seen. There are a number of small paths here which all join together, take care over which one you choose as some of them are steep and rocky.
Leaving the rim behind descend the path to the Nab and retrace the start of the route back to the The Old Nags Head Inn where a well deserved pint awaits you!