At Montane, we love helping to encourage more of you to undertake running adventures in the great outdoors! Having partnered with The George Fisher Tea Round in the Lake District for a couple of years now, we wanted to help bring you all another motivational challenge in an equally inspiring location in the UK.
Home to open moorland, rocky outcrops, picturesque valleys and a vast network of great trails, the Peak District National Park is the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts. England’s first-ever national Park (yes, really) also makes the ideal base for our latest running challenge!
Starting and finishing at the Outside shop in Hathersage, before heading out into the heart of the Peak District, those eager to take on the challenge can grab a tasty breakfast in the cafe before setting off, as well as a rewarding cuppa and cake on their return! Who better to help get us feeling suitably motivated than Peaks-based #TeamMontane ambassador Jen Scotney? A big fan of the route, Jen shares her favourite parts of the Hope Valley Round.
Offerton and Shatton Moor
Where? Exactly. This is the direction the locals would have started in, finding some quieter parts of the Peak District. After gently climbing away from Hathersage, you are soon out on the heather-clad moors to the southwest. They are less visited and so, even on a weekend, you should be able to find some peace here, with just a few red grouse for company.
Looking up across the valley, you will have magnificent views towards the hills which come later in the day to Win Hill and the Great Ridge. Seeped in history and legend, the moors in this corner may be small but include stone circles, barrows, and evocatively named places such ‘Wolf’s Pit’ and ‘Deadman’s Clough’. By the way, a ‘clough’ (pronounced ‘cluff’) is a small valley on these peaty moors. Not to be confused with a grough (‘gruff’). But next, via a sharp descent to Bradwell, you will be leaving the peat and gritstone of the ‘Dark Peak’ for some green limestone trails…
Bradwell marks the start of a limestone ‘White Peak’ section of the route and, here, you will move into green fields, limestone walls and lead mining history. There won’t be time to visit Bagshawe Cavern, a cave discovered by lead miners in 1806, but it’s a great trip for an introduction to caving another time.
Further past the patchwork of limestone walled fields, you will cross the Limestone Way which heads off down Cave Dale, a 46-mile route traversing the White Peak. The current record holder is #TeamMontane athlete Marcus Scotney! You’ll be able to see the dramatic 11th-century Peveril Castle situated down above the crags of Cave Dale from Mam Tor soon, weather permitting.
The highest point of the round! Hopefully the climb up to this point is rewarded by the views. The view is dominated by the boggy, peaty plateau of Kinder Scout to the north, and looking down the valley towards the start of the run to the east, and in the middle the stunning Great Ridge which is the next section of the run. Mam Tor means ‘mother hill’ and is an old bronze and iron age fort. Look out for the inlays on rocks in the path on your ascent, showing some of the clues to its history.
The eastern side of the summit is dominated by a huge landslip, showing the precarious shale layers of the hill. You will be lucky to get Mam Tor trig to yourself, so get that all-important trig photo (don’t forget to tag in Outside and Montane when you share it!) and then head down away from the summit crowds to enjoy the beautiful ridge that comes next.
Back Tor and Lose Hill
After Mam Tor, you will come to the crossroads of paths at Hollins Cross. This was an old route to take coffins out of Edale and down to the church at Hope. You are staying high along the ridge though and carrying on to the next hill, Back Tor, which comes after a sharp ascent.
The BMC and Mend our Mountains undertook work in 2021 to restore the paths which were in disrepair on this section; it’s a popular route and not hard to see why, offering one of the most dramatic views of the Peak District. The last climb on the ridge is to Lose Hill, and here you will be rewarded with a toposcope to take in the 360-degree view. Enjoy the steep descent down to the valley before the last big climb of the day.
Back to the peaty Dark Peak moors of Win Hill. It is a pretty brutal climb up this side of Win Hill, but it’s one that’s worth it. There’s some dispute about why we have a Win Hill and a Lose Hill together. Some say they’re named after a 7th Century battle, with the victors on Win Hill, while some believe that it derives from the willow trees that used to be here.
If you are lucky enough to do this round in late August, the trig point will be in a sea of purple heather. From the trig, the view now opens up, down to Ladybower reservoirs and Derwent Edge beyond. In dry spells, such as the one we had in 2022, the remains of the old village and hall can be seen uncovered in the reservoir. You will be hoping for some dry weather as the descent of Win Hill can be muddy back to the valley when you return to Hathersage.
The temptation will be to go and spend the rest of the day in the Outside Café, and why not after completing a round of the Hope Valley? However, there are some reasons to explore Hathersage and the surrounding areas. Little John from the Robin Hood legend was said to be born in Hathersage and buried at the church in the village. Did you notice Robin Hood’s stoop stone on the first ascent out to Offerton Moor? The legend is Little John chose a burial spot within an arrow’s shot of the stoop.
Another recognised name on a grave in the churchyard is Jane Eyre, with the Eyre family residing at North Lees Hall, a little way to the north of Hathersage. This was likely the inspiration for Charlotte Bronte who visited the area with her friend and wrote of Jane Eyre, Morton and Thornfield the next year. There is also an open-air swimming pool for a refreshing post-run dip, as well as endless opportunities for climbing and cycling in the area.
Like the sound of the Outside Hope Valley Round and want to give it a go for yourself? Head to this dedicated page to find out more information. For more inspiring running routes don't miss The George Fisher Tea Round in the Lake District.