Chinley to Edale via South Head

South Head

This walk is a linear route taking full advantage of public transport connections in the Peak District between Manchester and Sheffield. The walk starts in the quiet old mill town of Chinley and makes its way over Chinley Churn behind the town. Regular train services stop at Chinley and Edale so the route can be done either way round but I prefer to end in the lovely Edale Valley. The hills behind Chinley quite conveniently link up with the unique shapely peaks of Mount Famine and South Head. From these small yet perfectly formed hills with there fantastic views over to Kinder, the walk then heads into the real dark peak as it crosses the often boggy and remote Brown Knoll. The route then opens up to the panoramic views of the Edale Valley where the walk creeps over the Rushup Edge ridge before descending into the Edale Valley where a train will soon be along to take you home, and if you have to wait you have the quaint Edale village with its pubs and tea rooms to take full advantage of. A brilliant linear day out and using public transport.

Route Directions

  1. The walk starts at Chinley railway station on the edge of the Peak District National Park. Regular train services run from Manchester and Sheffield seven days a week, at the time of writing this walk up the train services are more or less every hour. For information on train times and fares visit The Train Line.
  2. Chinley is a pleasant and quiet old mill town on the edge of the national park. Chinley was original a small hamlet dominated by farming and quarrying as will be evident on the walk. The birth of the railways and the industrial revolution saw the building of several large textile mills in the 19th century. The railway has always been a big part of the town and brought its growth more than any other factor. The railway junction at Chinley was a major junction for decades though these days it is more of a single use junction and station used prominently for the Manchester to Sheffield trans pennine rail route which this walk takes full advantage of.
  3. From the station exit do not turn left and instead go straight on for about forty metres then turn right down Lower Lane. Head down Lower Lane for about two hundred and fifty metres then turn right and head to the bridge over the railway.
  4. This reaches the recently created Chinley Park Nature Reserve. This fantastic little paradise has been created through the hard work of local people and is now officially declared a nature reserve. Follow the path through the lovely park and head uphill or north to the top end of the park where a gate goes through the top wall onto the minor road.
  5. Turn left up the road following it round a right bend uphill. The road passes a track and footpath to the right and reaches Dryclough Farm. Shortly after the farm the road bends left and then after about fifty metres you need to cross the stile on the right and head along the path to Cracken Edge.
  6. This path to Cracken Edge on Chinley Churn seems to follow some sort of old man made ditch and bank which is probably an old quarry level. The path heads in a north east direction and is a bit muddy in places, it follows a contour round the hill, ignore the paths that head downhill towards Cracken Edge farm and continue on the higher paths.
  7. Eventually the path will pass above Cracken Edge farm and head over a stile and fence and start rounding the cliffs on Chinley Churn above the old quarries and heading in a northerly direction. The quarries up here are fascinating and you could easily be mistaken for thinking you were in North Wales, even some of the old old buildings exist in rubble. You could spend some time here exploring the many ditches and cliffs.
  8. The path now heads north for a kilometre, however there are two paths in a way as one goes straight along the top of the ridge and above the quarries and another goes along under the cliffs and through the quarries.
  9. There are a few up and down paths so you can pick and choose. I'd recommend going up to the higher path and looking own on the quarries to get an idea of there size and for better views of course. The OS trig point pillar marking the actual summit of Chinley Churn is not on open access land is sadly on private farm land so best avoided.
  10. If you chose the higher route then after a kilometre along the ridge you reach the bridleway, turn right and head downhill and pass quietly through Hills Farm. If you took the lower route by the quarries then that path actually starts a slow descent after the quarries and passes behind Whiterakes before joining up with with the bridleway and road to the east of Hills Farm. Both routes end up on the same road heding east away from Hills Farm.
  11. Follow the road from Hills Farm east and it will eventually reach the A624 Chapel-en-le-Frith to Glossop trunk road at Peep-O-Day. Look out for the bench with the poem on it just after Hills Farm on the left. Cross the busy main road to the other side, taking care as this is a fast major road.
  12. Head north up the east side of the road for about one hundred metres and then head right up the road behind the house that heads up past the quarry on the right before coming to a crossroads of bridleways. At the cross roads turn right heading in a south east direction towards Mount Famine. The bridleway then heads uphill south east and passes through some seriously well made gateways.
  13. The bridleway reaches a pond at the foot of Mount Famine. Here ascend the clear path that heads uphill in a northerly direction and quickly gains height and reaches the summit of Mount Famine.
  14. Seen from the north this shapely peak is a unique view for those heading up the popular Kinder walks from Bowden Bridge. After taking in the magnificent views to the neighbouring Kinder Plateau and the long reaching vistas across the Cheshire plains to Greater Manchster and Merseyside, descend retracing your footsteps down the same route back to the bridleway.
  15. Turn left after the small pond and then take a direct route to the right to ascend the short ascent to the top of South Head. South Head and Mount Famine are two perfectly formed peaks seen from certain angles and real gems in a region famous for its round boggy peaks, these two grassy pyramid shaped beauties are great peaks.
  16. Similar views to Mount Famine are had from the summit South Head and also views south over Chapel, Whaley Bridge and also most of the route you have done so far from Chinley over Chinley Churn.
  17. Descend from South Head in a an easterly direction and avoid and cross the bridleway which makes its way off south east, instead head east to north east along the now boggy path hand railing the stone wall to the right at all times. This now turns into what you would expect from the Dark Peak area.
  18. After a kilometre the path crosses a wooden stile and fence to the north of an unnamed bump the other side of the wall. To the left or north here the shapely outcrop of Swines Back sticks up out of the edge of Kinder.
  19. As you are now in Dark Peak land you are likely to see the usual wildlife, Mountain Hares running off at the noise of your feet, Skylarks doing there usual crazy song high up above you and of course when you disturb them the grouse will no doubt leap up and scare the hell out of you.
  20. Carry on along this path keeping the wall to the right. The path steepens and a kilometre later there is a stile through the fence on the right that needs to be crossed, head now in a south east direction towards Brown Knoll along one of the worst paths in the Peak District.
  21. This boggy quagmire is a nightmare in wet months. Although I would never normally recommend people walk off path, I would say avoid the main path here unless you have decent footwear.
  22. As I walked across this path the only way I can explain the horrid sinking feeling is that it felt like there were people in the bog putting there hands though and trying to pull me down! Don't be put off though as the summit is reached quicker than you might think. The summit is a boggy mess with a white OS trig point pillar in the centre. The Brown Knoll top is so wide that there aren't really much in the way of views and it isn't a place worth hanging around.
  23. From Brown Knoll head of in a south east direction for just over half a kilometre then near Horsehill Tor turn on a south to south east direction heading to Colborne, reached a kilometre on.
  24. On Colborne you will see a huge building that looks particularly out of place. This building is actually an air shaft of the Cowburn Tunnel beneath the hill that carries the railway we are taking advantage of. The Cowburn Tunnel built in 1891 is over three and a half kilometres long and was a marvel of engineering.
  25. It is hard to tell but there are two paths on the ridge here, the main path which is the widest and boggier of the two and a slightly lower path to the north east. If possible, move across to the smaller path on the left.
  26. The smaller path passes an old sheepfold then heads downhill slightly before reaching the Chapel Gate bridleway. The views north east into the Edale Valley now start to open up. From the crossing of the paths and bridleway follow the path which clearly heads east to south east up Rushup Edge.
  27. This is quite a lengthy ascent but eventually after a sharp right turn at a fence after half a kilometre of ascent turn right or south and then you'll reach the two wide bridleways that traverse the Rushup Edge ridge. Head left or east along the bridleway or path, one on each side of the wall here.
  28. The top of Rushup Edge known as Lord's Seat will be reached after half a kilometre. From here continue east along the ridge on the obvious and eroded path for another kilometre until you reach the road pass below the huge Mam Tor now in front of you.
  29. When you reach the minor road cross it with care and turn left then after seventy metres go through the gate into the bridleways and take the one that heads downhill, ignoring the one that goes round Mam Tor. This bridleway is rough and heads downhill eventually reaching a lovely little stream to the right side then passing through Greenlands.
  30. After Greenlands follow the road as it crosses Harden Clough then passes Harden Farm and into Edale Village. After crossing the River Noe, cross the main road and turn right then left following the signs to the railway station. Train timetables can be found on the platforms.
  31. If you have an hour or so to waste while waiting you could take the short stroll into the village to the famous Old Nags Head Inn or take advantage of the tea rooms at the station.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL1 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 110 Map Click to buy Collins Ramblers Guide Peak District Click to buy Pathfinder Guides Peak District

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.