Win Hill

We had a quick mini-break at the end of last week in the northern fringes of the Peak District. Sam had entered the Montane Spine Challenger race which starts from Edale, so we decided to pop down a few days before, to spend a few days exploring a different part of the Peak District. Arriving on Thursday lunchtime, we had a few hours to kill before we could check into our B&B, so we ventured out on a short-ish walk up Win Hill to pass a few hours. We hadn’t expected much from this hike but it was an absolute gem of a walk – the best kind of surprise!

We found this route in the newly released Pocket Mountains guide to the Peak District. The route is a 7.5km circular from Hope, however for some reason I misread the distance and we only got a parking ticket for 2 hours, leading to a realisation half way up the hill that we were going to need to jog most of the way back to the car before the ticket expired! If you don’t have this guide (and if you don’t, it’s an excellent little book with some fantastic walks), there is a slightly different online version available on Walking Britain.

There is a pay and display car park in Hope (£2.50 for 2 hours – we just made it back in time with a fair bit of running at the end), as well as a SPAR and excellent farm shop if you are needing to stock up on supplies. Sam got a steak from the farm shop and maintains it was one of the best steaks he’s ever eaten!

From looking at the various routes up Win Hill online, I think the circular we followed is probably the easiest one out there. Leaving Hope, you follow a quiet lane steadily uphill to reach Access Land, before the ascent steepens for just shy of a kilometre to bring you to the ridge for the final walk up to Win Hill Pike. The ridge is almost flat, with great views across to Castleton and the Hope Valley. The final ascent up to the trig pillar isn’t strenuous at all, with only a few steps up a rockier section of the path to navigate, before you are rewarded with a view over Ladybower reservoir to the north.

The paths along the route were generally clear and easy to see, albeit uneven, making navigation much easier. There was a short grassy section on the descent where we inevitably went left when we should have gone right – quickly rectified by my OS maps app telling me we’d gone off course – a very handy feature of the paid version of the app!

The descent back down into Hope is fairly gradual for the most part, although steep in places. I imagine this walk would be even more impressive later in the summer when the heather is in full bloom, as it covers most of the ridge you walk across to reach the summit.

If you’re taking your own food on this walk and fancy an easy hike with hot food at the summit, or a spot of wild camping, make sure you are aware of the latest rules around fire in the countryside. There is currently a no fire order in place for the whole of the Peak District national park, meaning that as well as disposable BBQs, camping stoves are also banned. This has been put in place following a series of wildfires caused by irresponsible countryside users – please, please think about how your actions can impact on the landscape around you.

Dog friendly rating: 2.5/5. While there is a section of road walking, the stretch out of Hope is along a pavement, and the lane to reach the Access Land is so quiet we only saw about three cars. However, there are no sections of this walk where I would have felt comfortable letting ours off the lead: Access Land requires dogs to be on a lead at all times at certain times of year and around livestock, and nearly every field we crossed had sheep in. If you’re confused by the rules around dogs and access land, there’s a really useful guide on the Harringtons website. Additionally, it’s worth noting that there are no drinking points for dogs, so take extra water along with you. The big plus on this walk is that all of the stiles were easily manageable for the dogs on their own without help from us – and to be honest that’s one of the most important things for me! There’s nothing quite as likely to start an argument as working out the best way to get a Labrador over a ladder stile…

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