Commuting between Sheffield and Manchester on the train each week stirs up a yearning to get out and explore Edale’s skyline. Every time the train slinks speedily through the valley I feel obliged to put down the book I’m reading and gaze longingly up at Mam Tor and Kinder Scout towering above either side.
Taking on Edale Skyline
So one free Saturday in April, I took the opportunity to grab the rambler train from Dore & Totley to Edale with Aggie, the springer spaniel. She certainly shared my enthusiasm for the excursion but I’m pretty sure her excitement was due to this being her first trip on a train rather than the 20 miles we were about to run.
Climbing up to the edge
Getting off the train in Edale, we ran up the road first past the Ramblers Inn, then the Nags Head turning right over the river to head up the zig-zagging footpath climbing up to Ringing Roger. The steep climb quickly gains height to reach the skyline path, it’s very craggy at the top of Ringing Roger but quickly levels out after a bit of scrambling. Once we scaled up to the skyline we set off eastward toward Ladybower Reservoir and onto our next stop Win Hill.
Running down from Crookstone Out Moor over toward Win Hill, for some reason I decided to go off-piste as I thought I’d descended too quickly. But after a quick map inspection, I found that I wouldn’t need to reach the top of Crookstone Knoll so my short stomp across the heathers to reach Roman road wasn’t necessary. Roman road forks so I took the path that ran closely along the woods to ensure I kept the height whilst running along Wooler Knoll on the western prong of Ladybower Reservoir. There is a sharp climb to ascend to the very top of Win Hill Pike before making an about turn to head down into the valley towards Lose Hill.
Win Hill to Lose Hill
As you’d imagine the descent off Win Hill to cross the railway is steep and slightly disheartening as you know you’re going to have to climb all the way back up again in a few minutes. After crossing the road and railway I took a right turn up a rough track and kept left until the footpath that climbs brutally back up to the Skyline atop Lose Hill made itself clear. This climb very nearly finished me off, it is much steeper and longer than the initial ascent out of Edale up to Ringing Roger.
After I’d made it to the top of Lose Hill, I opted for a short rest and refreshment break. Having bought a prawn sandwich en route to the train, I devoured that and got back to my feet to set off for Mam Tor. This section of the route is nice and gentle in comparison to the previous climb up Lose Hill, with the only tough bit being the final hundred yard ascent up to the top of Mam Tor. But reaching the summit revealed clear views over to Kinder Scout and I could see where I’d already conquered which really motivated me to power through to the next section.
Mam Tor to Brown Knoll
Running along Rushup Edge from Mam Tor to Brown Knoll was harder than it looked. Things took a turn for the worse, my energy levels crashed, my legs felt like lead and the sandstone path leading through the peat bog felt absolutely relentless. I was determined to get to the top of Brown Knoll, and in all honesty, once I’d got to the top it wasn’t as rewarding as reaching the top of Mam Tor, it felt barren and lonely. I took shelter behind the Trig Pillar at the top, snaffled a bounty, changed into some leggings and layered up with my Patagonia Nano Air to stay warm as the weather was turning.
After this second pitstop, I headed down from Brown Knoll and cut over Edale Cross path to head into the Wool Packs. This section of the route felt like I’d landed on a different planet, I’d never been into the Wool Packs before and was amazed by the huge gritstone rocks and boulders resting on the edge of Edale’s Skyline. These gigantic boulders are piled up either the side of a huge peat bog that is dramatically scarred from corrosion, it is fun navigating this harsh terrain but I could see how you’d easily get lost here so I opted to get out my compass.
Eventually, I’d escaped the Wool Packs but only after ending up waist deep in mud in the Peat bog, and I headed up to the top of Kinder Scout. The route was almost complete but this is where I reluctantly decided to cut the last leg back up to Ringing Roger short. I was tired and my feet were in bits due to my fell shoes being too small. It’s taken a while for this to sink in but since getting some larger fitting trail shoes I’ve really started to notice how uncomfortable and small they are. I can certainly attribute these badly fitting running shoes as the cause of the black toenail on my left foot. I didn’t take cutting out the last section lightly but I knew I’d have enough time for a swift half at the Nags Head and I’d still be able to catch the next train back, I had my priorities right!
Edale Skyline is a brutal course with over 1290m of ascent and I definitely wasn’t going to win any medals with how long it took me but it was more of a leisurely run than anything else. I would highly recommend taking on this run for the scenery along and I’ll be heading back here before the year is out. If you want to give it a go you can grab a GPX file at the bottom of this article on handpickedtrails.co.uk or take a copy of the Dark Peak Fell Runners map here.