Before you start
Like many other guides, this one has a combination of maps and a written description to help with route-finding. The narrative is longer than most because we have interwoven information about rocks and landforms throughout the guide. Readers will quickly determine where they prefer to focus their attention. The GeoWalk follows rights of way, permissive paths or crosses Open Access land, parts of which already form established walks such as the Limestone Way and the Pennine Way. We have quite deliberately decided against way-marking the GeoWalk, not just because of the practical difficulty of maintaining signs over a considerable distance for many years, but to avoid adding to the existing signpost clutter in popular areas of the Peak District. Instead, we have devised a route that leads you naturally through the landscape and we hope that for most of the walk you will not be too burdened with route-finding.
Near the Upper Derwent reservoir. © Julie Harrald
Those who undertake the GeoWalk as a continuous challenge will probably be experienced walkers, but it does no harm to remind readers to follow the Countryside Code and take appropriate safety precautions at all times. You should always carry a map (we recommend the Ordnance Survey 1:25000 scale OL1 Dark Peak and OL24 White Peak) and compass, even though a GPS device and mobile phone are very useful aids under most circumstances. The topographic maps provided in the downloadable Walk Sections are derived from OpenStreetMap (www.openstreetmap.org/copyright). They are generally detailed enough for walkers (particularly on well-established public footpaths), but we have also provided GPX files for those who prefer to navigate using mapping software.
Planning your route
For convenience the GeoWalk has been divided into 14 sections that are, on average, about 15 km long, and can be walked comfortably in a day, with sufficient time to appreciate your surroundings. For those who prefer a more determined approach to their walking, sections can be combined or tackled within a shorter timeframe. Parts of the route, particularly the southwestern tract between Wetton Mill and Flash, and the Dark Peak sections from Edale to Upper Burbage, are quite remote and careful planning is required if transport and accommodation are going to play a part in your excursion.
Some of the route descriptions include suggested diversions. These may direct you to a specific feature, viewpoint or amenity, and in all cases there is an indication of how long the diversion will take. There are also a couple of major alternatives to the route if the weather is poor as you approach the more demanding and inhospitable sections of the Dark Peak. It is the nature of the GeoWalk that it is relatively easy to find short-cuts or seek refuge if time constraints, energy levels or weather conditions dictate.