British Isles Slow Travel

Walk of the Week: a scramble along Curbar Edge in the Peak District

This route makes the craggy landscape more accessible for the amateur, while still showcasing its dramatic views.

From the rocky crags at Robin Hood’s Stride and Cratcliff Tor to the edges of Baslow, Curbar, Froggatt and Stanage, the landscape on the Eastern Moors is full of drama and beauty. Great slabs of rock drop to the valley below, while behind them the moorland plateaus stretch to the skyline. The escarpments, tors and crags are an adventure playground for walkers, boulderers and climbers alike.

Curbar Edge Peak District walk
Heather blooming at sunset on Curbar Edge, Peak District © christographerowens, Shutterstock

With climbing routes such as the Black Hawk Traverse and the Flying Buttress on Stanage Edge, Insanity on Curbar Edge or Suicide Wall at Cratcliff Tor, the challenging nature of these climbs is left in no doubt. Famous 20th-century climbers such as Don Whillans and Joe Brown cut their teeth on the Peak District edges before going on to conquer the big boys in the Alps and Himalayas. For the less adventurous, the edges are great for scrambling and simply walking along the top.

The route

OS Explorer map OL24; start: The Bridge Inn, SK246744; 4 miles; moderately easy; refreshments: Derbyshire Craft Centre at Calver & the Chequers Inn at Froggatt

This walk takes in sustained views along the entire length of Curbar Edge, while showcasing the great platforms of rock and layers of weathered crags. From here a woodland path drops down to the River Derwent and the contrasting pastoral valley of wetland and meadow.

The walk starts from the Bridge Inn at Calver. There’s a small amount of parking around the Bridge, where there are also bus stops. The route takes in a steep climb up the road to Curbar village; after that it’s nearly all off-road walking. The edge path and river section are level and easy going.

1 Take the road opposite The Bridge Inn and follow the right fork up Curbar Hill, signposted for the village. It’s a steep climb up the road and on through Curbar, where Curbar Hill becomes Bar Road.

2 Just past the speed-limit signs indicating the end of the village, go through the gap on the right that leads directly up through fields, cutting out the switchback on the road. The path veers left along a dry-stone wall to meet the road further up. There’s a track running along the grassy verge by the side of the road on the right, so you don’t have to walk on the road.

3 Ignore the path heading right leading to Baslow Edge. Instead drop down to the road, cross it and take the path adjacent, leading up on to Curbar Edge. The path along Curbar Edge is well defined and sits slightly back from the edge. Take time to wander over to the rocky edges to really appreciate the craggy formations.

4 Once the path drops down, look out for a small signpost on the left (about 11/4 miles from Curbar Gap). It leads off along the base of flat slabs. Keep your eyes peeled for a path on the left leading steeply downhill through the trees, just a short way along the base of the rock face. As it’s not signposted, it’s easy to miss. If the path starts to rise sharply upwards again, you’ve gone too far.

5 Head down the path, watching your step on the steep uneven ground. It will widen and flatten as you continue on. Soon you will reach the A625 with the Chequers Inn on your right – a good place to stop for a pint or lunch.

6 Take the path directly opposite the exit on to the main road. Head down it until you reach a second, more minor road – Froggatt Lane. Turn right and follow the road downhill until you reach the pretty humpbacked Froggatt Bridge.

7 Cross the bridge and climb the stile on your left at the other side (signposted New Bridge and Calver). Follow the track through pine trees with the River Derwent on your left. The dappled reflections on the water on a sunny day are lovely. Look out for brook lamprey at Calver Marshes (an elusive eel-like fish best seen in spawning time between March and June).

8 Cross the road at New Bridge and continue on along the gravel track past the Shuttle House (used to house the sluice machinery), still keeping the river on your left, and on past the weir. Cross the meadows, passing by the caravan park at Stocking Farm. Notice the attractive barn-like building on your right. It was actually the old schoolhouse, built in 1817. Head down the lane past the imposing Calver Mill, an old cotton mill that’s been converted to apartments. The lane comes out next to The Derbyshire Craft Centre.

Note: An easier 2½-mile walk sticks with the river valley. Instead of heading up Curbar Hill, take the left junction on to Dukes Drive. Go through the gate on the left where the stone wall runs out. The riverside path goes all the way to Froggatt Bridge. Cross it and follow the river back to Calver, with the river on the other side now.

More information

Discover more walks in the area in our Slow Travel guide:

A walk in my home county: the Middlewood Way

Walk of the Week: Craster and Howick Hall

Walk of the Week: a scramble up Rueval, Benbecula