The weather has definitely turned over the past few weeks, but those bright, cold days are the best ones for hiking as long as you’re kitted out appropriately. I was lucky enough to spend 24 hours in the Peak District in some spectacular autumn weather with YHA, which is a charity that transforms young lives forever through travel and real adventure. They have amazing places to stay and opportunities to explore, along with their Supper Club, where travellers eat a communal, hearty meal after their day exploring.
As part of a collaboration with YHA I’ve brought you my five favourite adventures using the beautiful YHA Losehill Hall as a base. Read on, layer up, and get yourself out into the great outdoors this winter!
The spectacular Mam Tor – or “mother hill” – is visible as soon as you go out of the back gate of YHA Losehill Hall. Its name is from the many landslips that have made mini hills beneath Mam Tor, slips caused by the unstable shale which also gave its alternative name, the Shivering Mountain.
When I climbed Mam Tor we decided to go up the very steep, grassy side to take in the spectacular views across to Kinder Scout and the Derwent Moors, then back across the paved ridge and down along the stepped path in my first image. This is actually the opposite route to what most guides recommend so I wouldn’t use my route descriptions as gospel! One of the best things about staying at a YHA is that there are guided walks around the local area, so whether you’re new to the Peaks and need someone to show you the routes or you’re an experienced hiker looking for more challenging routes, their experienced guides will be able to help you.
Our guide Ruth took us on the Lose Hill walk straight from the hostel, which I was pleased with as I’d never done this hike before. This takes you across some rolling farmland, up a reasonably challenging hill, then down again with some spectacular views of the Great Ridge. We were a fairly varied group and everyone did great on this walk, which took around two and a half hours. This was including some very necessary photo stops, I’d argue that this walk in particular has some of the best scenery in all of the Peaks!
It only seems appropriate that I now include YHA’s Supper Club, which we all eagerly tucked into after freshening up and a few rounds of board games in the hostel’s lounge. Supper Club is a communal meal available to all travellers staying within the hostel which encourages guests to share travelling experiences and catch up about adventures, and includes veggie, vegan, and gluten free options. I opted for the veggie pie which came with the creamiest mash and as much veg as you’d like to eat, followed by a spectacular vegan chocolate cake.
It’s only £9.95 for two courses and is the perfect hearty end to a day in the great outdoors!
After a cracking sleep at the hostel, fellow fitness blogger Lucy and I got our trail shoes on and went out on a run to further explore Castleton. I think we know that I’m very much a fairweather runner but that morning was cold and foggy, yet the run felt fantastic. We initially went out to check out Peveril Castle, just a 10-minute walk (or a shorter run!) from the hostel, but found it didn’t open until 10am. We went a little further down the road to find a small gateway through some bushes at the side of the road that led to the most spectacular valley. Honestly, it felt like we were the first people in the world to discover it!
It was called the Secret Valley (or Cave Dale if you want its proper, yet less mystical name) and it was made by glacial meltwater carving a deep valley into the limestone. It is a challenging climb requiring trail shoes at the very least, with unstable rocks underfoot, but it’s well worth it – after feeling like you’ve been ascending forever, you can turn round and enjoy the views of Castleton and Peveril Castle, made even more spectacular by the sun peeking through the fog on the morning we went up.
Although the map shows the trail ending abruptly, carry on going up through the Dale and eventually you’ll hit a road, which will take you down into Castleton. I wouldn’t recommend going down the way you came – a recommendation which may or may not come from personal experience..!
Now, this is an epic from Castleton, but I couldn’t write a post about my favourite Peaks walks without including Kinder Scout. It’s my absolute go-to and if I don’t go over the course of a year I really feel like I’ve missed out. This photo of Chris and I at the top of Jacob’s Ladder is maybe around four years old but ironically I could’ve gotten away with saying it was the same day as Lose Hill considering I’m wearing the same top!
From YHA Castleton you could make the short drive to the other side of the ridge to park in Edale, or you could head up the stone steps to Hollins Cross, straight down the other side, and start your walk from there. Kinder Scout is a big day out and climbing Jacob’s Ladder is fairly challenging, so make sure you’re feeling fit, you’re dressed appropriately and you’re prepared for the walk (I’ve covered packing for a hike in my Snowdon post).
I recommend a visit just as summer is turning into autumn as the hills are covered swathes of purple heather, with some visible in the photos above. I’d also recommend a celebratory isotonic pint at The Ramblers Inn in Edale!
Less of a hike, but definitely something very interesting. I haven’t been since I was a kid but I’d love to go and explore the mines around the Peak District again, of which there are many – Peak Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, Blue John Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern are those in Castleton itself.
You can see the beautiful Blue John stone in Treak Cliff, go through the flooded caves on a boat in Speedwell, and go deep underground in Peak. A unique and breathtaking experience for all ages and abilities.
Writing this post has made me realise I need far more than 24 hours staying in YHA Castleton – next spring I’m booking a 3-day trip (including Supper Club!) to experience all the area has to offer. Who’s with me?
Welcome to That Squat Bot, established 2013! I'm Sarah, a fitness professional based in Manchester, UK.
I love feeling strong and lifting heavy, but I also love trying different types of movement and using my fitness to adventure outside of the gym. I'm also a massive Marvel nerd!Find out more about me here.
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