Skip to Content

Kinder Scout Walks: Best Routes To The Top Of The Peaks

Kinder Scout Walks: Best Routes To The Top Of The Peaks

One of the best walks in the Peak District is that of Kinder Scout. Indeed, reaching the tallest ‘peak’ of the Peaks is high on most visitors to do lists. But, which route to Kinder Scout to choose? In this guide, we’re going to tell you about the Edale to Kinder Scout walk via the Peak District’s Jacobs Ladder, Kinder Low, Kinder Downfall and Grindsbrook Clough. It’s a fantastic day hike of around 18km covering the majority of the highlights surrounding Kinder Scout.

We’ll also touch on a few popular alternative routes which vary in length and begin from the village of Hayfield instead. But, we’ll start by telling you a little about Kinder Scout, where it is and how to get there. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions regarding walks to Kinder Scout and also suggest some other fantastic hikes to do in the Peak District National Park.

Check out our guides on Chrome Hill, Mam Tor and Dovestone Reservoir

About Kinder Scout

Kinder Scout is the Peak District National Park’s highest ‘peak’. The height of Kinder Scout reaches 636 metres above sea level and, despite its elevation, couldn’t be less mountain-like. At the summit of Kinder Scout is a vast moorland plateau creating a small tableland providing fantastic views across the Peak District.

Kinder Scout sits in the Dark Peak area of the Derbyshire Peak District. It’s nestled between the major cities of Manchester and Sheffield and is easy to reach from either location. Walks to Kinder Scout typically begin from the small villages of Edale and Hayfield. Additionally, if you explore the Kinder plateau on your walk, you’ll discover Kinder Downfall – the highest waterfall in the Peak District at 30 metres high.

Kinder Scout is also a National Nature Reserve. It’s cared for by the National Trust and as of 2022, was extended by 25%. The name Kinder Scout as a whole is fairly unknown. Although, the term ‘scout’ is thought to originate from the Norse skúte, meaning overhanging rock. This likely refers to the cliff face on the western side of Kinder Scout.

Given Kinder Scout’s fame as being the highest point in the Peak District, it’s little wonder this incredible natural landmark is a popular hill to walk. Indeed, you’ll find many walking routes up Kinder Scout.

Kinder Scout Mass Trespass

In 1932, Kinder Scout and Kinder Plateau was the location for the Mass Trespass. The Mass Trespass is remembered as a protest by ramblers for the right to roam in the open countryside, something that had previously been denied. The Kinder Scout Mass Trespass event was a success and eventually led to the creation of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and later the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Now we all get to enjoy the delights of access to open countryside in the Peak District and beyond.

How to Get to Kinder Scout

For the walk to Kinder Scout that we’ll detail below, you’ll need to get to the pretty village of Edale. Of course, having your own set of wheels is super handy. But, it’s certainly possible to arrive at Edale by train. Even better is that you can begin the walk from Edale train station too. Incredibly, any visit to the Peak District National Park isn’t too far from the cities of Manchester and Sheffield. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the nearest places to travel from. We’ll include the distance and drive time, before looking at public transport options.

​​​​​​​ Directions to Edale

  • Manchester: 1 hour // 30 miles (48km)
  • Sheffield: 1 hour // 22 miles (35km)
  • Buxton: 1 hour // 20 miles (32km)
  • Bakewell: 40 minutes // 18 miles (29km)

If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, then we recommend hiring something for ease of access, so you can start the Kinder Scout walk whenever you want. Of course, this can easily be organised from both Manchester and Sheffield.

Car Hire

DiscoverCars.com

If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

Public Transport

As mentioned, it’s much easier to get to Kinder Scout to take on any of the walking routes to its summit with your own vehicle. But, it’s possible to get there via public transport. From Manchester, you can take the train to Edale Station. The journey time is around 1 hour and is super scenic.

From Sheffield, the journey is a slightly quicker 30 minutes to Edale Station. From Edale train station you can then begin the walk to Kinder Scout.

You can check the train services below. Also, we recommend using Google Maps to help plan your journey.

Booking Trains

Trainline

Trainline is one of the best online platforms for booking trains. By using Trainline, you can easily find the best available prices and times for your journey. We always use Trainline to book our train journeys in the UK and in Europe.

​​​​​​​Kinder Scout Parking

For the Kinder Scout walk we did via Jacobs Ladder in the Peak District, you can either park in Edale or nearby Barber Booth. We’ll cover other parking options with the additional Kinder Scout walking routes we’ll recommend below.

Barber Booth: Dan and I parked at the Barber Booth Car Park and began our hike from there. The car park is free, so you’ll want to arrive early to ensure you get a spot.

Edale Car Park: the most commonly used car park for the walk to Kinder Scout is the spacious Edale Car Park. This car park is pay and display and you’ll also find public toilets for your convenience.

Avoid parking on country lanes and in lay-by passing points, you’ll only cause a hazard.

Beck at the mouth of Grindsbrook Clough on Kinder Scout

Useful Things to Know Before the Kinder Scout Walk

Below, are a few useful things to know before you set out to summit Kinder Scout.

Facilities Around Kinder Scout

Kinder Scout is a natural attraction in the heart of the Peak District, so you won’t find much in the way of amenities once out on the walking trails. For public toilets, look to use the facilities at Edale Car Park, or else settle for au natural out on the hike. Food wise we recommend packing a lunch to take with you. Finding a little rocky spot with a view from Kinder Plateau is hard to turn down anyway. But, if you’re looking for something a little heartier once you’ve finished the Kinder Scout walk, then Edale has a couple of quaint pubs and cafes to choose from.

​​​​​​​Kinder Scout Weather

You can walk to Kinder Scout via many of its routes such as Jacobs Ladder and Grindslow Knoll in the Peak District any time of year.

Of course, those in the know will tell you that August is a wonderful time for hiking in the Peak District. That’s because in late summer the vibrant purple heather is in bloom and shrouds the rolling hills of the Peak District in an incredible violet blanket.

But remember, the Peak District can and does see a fair amount of rainfall. Certainly, the peaty terrain of the Kinder plateau can become extremely boggy and the scramble sections such as Grindsbrook Clough can be much more slippery. With that being said, take care on the steep ascents and descents and as always, it’s a good idea to wear a decent pair of hiking boots when out in the Peaks.

You can check the weather forecast before setting off on the Kinder Scout walk here.

Length of the Kinder Scout Trail

This really depends on the Kinder Scout walking route you choose to take. For the hike we’ll describe, you’re looking at around six hours of hiking and covering a distance of 18 km. But, as you’ll see in the Other Kinder Scout Walking Routes section, hiking up to Kinder Scout can be as quick as a few hours and just 8km.

Level of Difficulty

As long as you have a basic level of fitness, a GPS map and supplies (food, water, warm clothing), you’ll find the route to Kinder Scout an excellent walk with an enjoyable level of challenge to it.

Standing at the top of Grindsbrook Clough at Kinder Scout

Kinder Scout Map and Walk Preview

  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Distance: 18km
  • Time: 5–6 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 500m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Barber Booth Car Park
  • Map: Wikiloc

Kinder Scout Circular Walking Trail

Beginning from the Barber Booth Car Park, you’ll first follow along the road in a clockwise direction towards Upper Booth hamlet. From here, you’ll join the Pennine Way track through the Vale of Edale to reach the Peak District’s Jacobs Ladder.

Jacobs Ladder Peak District

Jacobs Ladder in the Peak District is a tall and winding stone staircase that ascends up onto the Kinder plateau. It’s a short and steep grind to the top but the views are breathtaking and Jacobs Ladder is easily one of the star attractions along this Peak District walk to Kinder Scout.

Once at the top of the steps, the Kinder Scout walk continues to climb before levelling off as you reach Edale Rocks. The impressive boulders that form Edale Rocks drop dramatically into the valley below on the western side of the plateau, as referenced earlier, when discussing where the term ‘scout’ comes from.

Kinder Low Summit

Continuing along from Edale Rocks is the Kinder Low summit. Kinder Low sits at 633 metres above sea level and is considered a subsidiary peak of Kinder Scout. At Kinder Low, you’ll find a trig point. Looking directly northeast from Kinder Low will lead your gaze to the Kinder Scout summit. As you’ll see, it’s effectively a flat expanse of moorland stretched out ahead. Most hikers, us included, choose to follow the trail around the Kinder Scout summit, as opposed to walking to it. And so, it’s onwards to Kinder Downfall.

Dan at Kinder Low on the Kinder Scout walking route

Kinder Downfall

​​​​​​​The Kinder Scout waterfall is known as Kinder Downfall. Continuing north along the Kinder Scout walking route and the Pennine Way brings you to this immense rocky outcrop where hopefully you’ll catch sight of the waterfall.

Kinder Downfall is weather dependent, so it could be a tiny trickle or, if the weather is howling, it could be a backward waterfall. Kinder Downfall drops into Mermaid Pool at its base. Legend says if you look into the pool at sunrise on Easter Sunday, you’ll see a beautiful mermaid. We’ve never put that to the test.

From Kinder Downfall, the route bends to the right and across the Kinder plateau.

On the rocks at Kinder Downfall

Kinder Plateau

The Kinder plateau is a vast expanse of exposed moorland. Even the slightest bit of rain can make the terrain pretty boggy. This means you’ll likely be hopping from one spongey mound to another, as you traverse across the tabletop. It’s easy to lose track of the Kinder Scout walking route as you hike across the plateau, so keep a GPS close to hand.

The trail heads around to Crowden Head and then onto the impressive rock stacks of Crowden Tower. From here, the path continues westerly along the plateau edge towards Grindslow Knoll and Grinsbrook Clough.

In late summer, the flowering heather looks outstanding on Kinder Scout.

Grindsbrook Clough

Dan and I chose to descend via the steep and rocky scramble of Grindsbrook Clough. But, you could just as easily head down towards Grindslow Knoll and descend back to Edale that way.

Truth be told, most walkers seemed to be ascending Grindsbrook Clough. Dan and I were a definite minority descending the Grindsbrook Clough route off Kinder Scout. But, rest assured, it’s a safe enough route if you take care of your footing and take your time. Grindsbrook Clough follows the Grind’s Brook stream as it descends from the Kinder plateau, before eventually reaching pretty woodland at its base before heading into Edale.

Edale to Barber Booth

Once you’re heading back into Edale, you’ll take a trail to the right at the Edale Primary School. This country trail cuts across open farmland and leads back to Barber Booth and the car park.

Other Kinder Scout Walking Routes

There are many walking routes to the summit of Kinder Scout and the moorland plateau. Indeed, variations can include omitting Kinder Downfall and exploring the Kinder plateau. Also, walkers might choose to hike an out and back and can even choose to begin from the village of Hayfield rather than Edale. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular route options.

Hayfield to Kinder Scout Walking Loop

  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Distance: 14km
  • Time: 5–6 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 500m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Bowden Bridge Car Park
  • Map: Wikiloc

This Kinder Scout walking route begins from Hayfield and heads up Williams Clough to the Kinder Scout plateau via the Kinder Reservoir. At the top, the walk crosses above Kinder Downfall and then leads down onto Kinder Low. From here, you’ll descend down Kinder Low Edge and return to Hayfield.

Parking at Hayfield can be found at Bowden Bridge Car Park and Sett Valley Trail Car Park. You’ll find public toilets at Bowden Bridge.

Edale to Kinder Scout Short Loop Via Grindslow Knoll

  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Distance: 8.5km
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 400m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Edale Car Park
  • Map: Wikiloc

One of the shortest route trails to Kinder Scout is a quick 8.5km hike shooting up to Kinder Plateau via Grindslow Knoll. Then, you’ll circle along the Upper Tor edge before descending Kinder Scout via Grindsbrook Clough or Golden Clough, back to Edale. It’s a steep ascent, and you’ll miss Jacobs Ladder and the Kinder Downfall, but it’s a cracking short route alternative to experience Kinder Scout in the Peak District.

Jacobs Ladder and Crowden Clough

  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Distance: 16.5km
  • Time: 6–8 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 500m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Edale or Barber Booth Car Park
  • Map: Wikiloc

Ascend the route up the Peak District’s Jacobs Ladder and on to Kinder Low. Then, head west to Pym Chair and onto Crowden Tower. At Crowden Tower, descend into Crowden Clough back into Upper Booth. For a slightly more challenging Kinder Scout route, you could walk up Crowden Clough, complete a loop around the Kinder plateau and then return to Edale via Grindslow Knoll.

Kinder Scout with Mam Tor Loop

  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Distance: 18km
  • Time: 6–8 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 700m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Barber Booth Car Park
  • Map: Wikiloc

If you’re really wanting to tick off some big names in the Peak District, you might consider an epic circular walk combining Mam Tor with Kinder Scout. The hike begins from the same Barber Booth Car Park we used for our hike and ascends to Kinder Scout before swinging south to summit Brown Knoll, Lords Seat and Mam Tor. You’ll want good weather for this one to really enjoy the views.

Dan on the Kinder Scout walks close to Jacobs Ladder Peak District

FAQs

Below, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding walking to Kinder Scout in the Peak District.

Is ​​​​​​​Kinder Scout a Difficult Walk?

Depending on your route, the walk to Kinder Scout varies in difficulty. For the Kinder Scout route we chose to complete, we’d say the most difficult part of the walk was across the moorland plateau. This was mainly due to losing the trail in parts. But, if you have a GPS map to hand when out walking Kinder Scout, you should be fine.

What Is the Easiest ​​​​​​​Kinder Scout Walk?

The easiest and shortest walk to summit Kinder Scout is to complete an out and back via the Peak District’s Jacobs Ladder. Yes, Jacobs Ladder is steep, but it ascends quickly and the views of the Peak District on the descent are wonderful.

Can Children Walk ​​​​​​​Kinder Scout?

This really depends on the ability of your own child, and only you know this best. But, we have seen children and families out on the different routes to Kinder Scout, so it’s definitely possible.

What Is the Best Route to Climb ​​​​​​​Kinder Scout?

Well, that really depends on the length of walk to Kinder Scout you want and the attractions to see along the way. If you want to enjoy as much as possible of this popular Peak District destination, then of course, we can wholly recommend the Kinder Scout walking route we hiked, via Jacobs Ladder, Kinder Downfall and Grindsbrook Clough.

Dan walking the Kinder Scout route after Jacobs Ladder Peak District

Final Thoughts on the Kinder Scout Walking Trail

Walking to Kinder Scout, whichever trail route you choose, is an absolute must for any keen hiker visiting the Peak District. As you’ll have gathered by now, there are plenty of walk variations to Kinder Scout and so, if you get your hands on a map, you should be able to find the perfect route to suit your needs.

Dan and I thoroughly enjoyed the full-day walk to Kinder Scout via Jacobs Ladder, Kinder Low, Kinder Downfall and Grindsbrook Clough, giving us some of the best of the Peak District. The hike had tough ascents, tricky scrambles and extraordinary views.

For us though, any Kinder Scout walk that begins from Edale in the Peak District should start with ascending Jacobs Ladder. Then, feel free to choose whichever route you prefer back down.

Kinder Scout Camping

If you’re a lover of wild camping, you’ll be pleased to know camping at Kinder Scout is permitted. By all accounts, sunrise from the plateau is quite something. If you prefer your camping a bit more on the luxurious side, i.e with a few amenities thrown in, you can find campsites nearby at Hayfield Camping and Caravanning Club, Upper Booth Farm Campsite and Fieldhead Campsite.

Other Walks in the Peak District National Park

There are countless enjoyable walks to find in the Peak District. Below are just a few of our favourites.

  • Mam Tor: one of the most popular walks in the Peak District, with various length route options including Win Hill and the Great Ridge.
  • Alport Castles: a hidden gem in the Peak District, the Alport Castles are the result of one of the largest landslips in the UK.
  • Derwent Edge: a beautiful walk up a typical Peak District escarpment and across the wild open moorland. Additionally, there are a number of interesting rock formations along the trail.
  • The Roaches and Lud’s Church: hike up and around the famous rocky ridge in the south Peaks and add on the fairytale rocky chasm of Lud’s Church.
  • Dovestone Reservoir: enjoy views of Saddleworth Moor from the Trinnacle Trail in the northern reaches of the Peak District.
  • Stanage Edge: whether you hike or climb, a visit to the Stanage Edge escarpment will leave you spellbound.
  • Dovedale to Milldale: a walk through the beautiful Dovedale passes hidden caves, picturesque forest and clifftop trails. Be sure to add Thorpe’s Cloud and Bunster Hill to your hike.
  • Three Shires Head: at the point where Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire meet is a pretty little cascade.
  • Thor’s Cave: this impressive natural cavern has fantastic views across the Manifold Valley in the south of the Peak District.
  • Chrome Hill: climb true peaks in the Peak District. We recommend visiting for sunrise.
  • Bamford Edge: easily one of the most photographed parts of the Peak District.
  • Padley Gorge: a deep and narrow valley offers a magical woodland walk to all who venture within.
Beck at the top of Jacobs Ladder Peak District near Grindsbrook Clough

Hiking Essentials For the Kinder Scout Circular Walk

These are our hiking gear essentials for the Kinder Scout walk in the Peak District via Jacobs Ladder and Grindsbrook Clough! Although, they’d work well for any Kinder Scout route. You should also pack water, snacks and warm clothing. Additionally, a quick lunch stop at Kinder Scout is a must, so pack that picnic!

Osprey Skarab 30
Osprey Skarab 30

The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.

Osprey Ultralight Raincover
Osprey Ultralight Raincover

A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.

GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle

The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.

BUFF Original Ecostretch
BUFF Original Ecostretch

The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Bonus Tips

  • Pennine Way: the famous multi-day Pennine way hike begins from the village of Edale. Indeed, many of the Kinder Scout walking routes follow some of it. But, why not challenge yourself to the full hike? The hike covers 268 miles and ends on the Scottish border. But, you’ll need to block a few weeks off to complete it. The Pennine Way can take up to three weeks to complete.
  • Grindsbrook Clough: remember to take care on the scramble down Grindsbrook Clough. It’s steep and takes concentration.
  • Beat the crowds: visit on a weekday or early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Dan and I had most of this hike to ourselves after getting an early start, only encountering the masses on our descent from Grindsbrook Clough after midday.

Read our Peak District Hiking post (coming soon), where we reveal some of the best hikes in the Peak District National Park.

Beck Piggott

With an art and design based background, Beck uses photography and writing to help inspire readers to climb mountains, hike coastal trails and chase waterfalls around the globe.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *