Birchen Edge walk (circular, 2.1km): perfect for kids who love climbing

Even though this Birchen Edge walk is a short distance, allow a good 1-2 hours with young kids. In places, the path is very uneven underfoot, and there is a steep section down at the end that is tricky if you have little ones in a carrier. But really, the time goes to all the climbing and scrambling opportunities there are for kids on the rocks and boulders, and is the reason why it’s one of our favourite Peak District walks with kids. In fact, Birchen Edge isn’t just for kids who love to climb, you will often see adult climbers here with all their gear.

We should also mention the stunning views from the top, particularly from Nelsons Monument (a gritstone column erected in 1810 in honour of Lord Nelson). Sitting behind this monument are a collection of three rocks known as ‘Three Ships‘, which have been carved with the names of three of Nelson’s ships: VictoryDefiance and Royal Sovereign. These are also fun to play on, and provide shelter for a picnic on a windy day.

This Birchen Edge walk also ties in nicely with lunch at The Robin Hood Inn, as this is where the walk starts from. Here, kids under 8 eat free, every day! – (it’s one free child’s main course per adult main course ordered).

If you are planning a visit to the National Park, please arrive early or late in the day to avoid crowds, and respect social distancing. Please also take all litter home with you, don’t bring BBQs and park your car in designated parking areas.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click to purchase, it is at no additional cost to you, but I receive a small commission.

Do check out our top tips for hiking with young kids, as well as our essential items to take on a family hike in the Peak District.

Birchen Edge walk map

On all Peak District family walks it’s a good idea to have an Ordnance Survey paper map with you, even if you have your phone on you. For this walk you need the OS Explorer Active Map OL24 (White Peak). It’s also a good opportunity to show young kids the map features and get them started with map reading.

The route directions below follow this map in an anti-clockwise direction.

Need to know

DISTANCE OF WALK: 2km

TYPE OF WALK: circular, uneven underfoot.

PARKING: You can park at the Robin Hood Inn if you’re stopping for lunch. Otherwise park in the pay and display Birchen Edge car park next door. Click here for Google Maps location, postcode is DE45 1PU. This is a National Trust car park, so free for National Trust pass holders. Otherwise it’s £4.60 for 2 hours parking (cards accepted).

WALK HIGHLIGHTS: Lunch at The Robin Hood Inn, playing on the boulders and rocks on Birchen edge, Nelsons Monument, views, and playing on the Three Ships.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE:  Without kids, this is a short 45 minute walk, but allow a good couple of hours with little ones to play along the way. This walk is often a full morning activity for us.

ACCESSIBILTY: The footpaths are rocky and uneven, and not suitable to pushchairs or wheelchairs. Also, the steep section towards the end of the walk can be tricky for those with a little one in a carrier.

TOTAL ASCENT: 84 metres

PUBLIC TOILETS: There are no public toilets on this walk. Although this walk starts and ends at Robin Hood Inn.

Birchen Edge car park

The route

This route description follows the above OS map in an anti-clockwise direction.

1. Starting from the Robin Hood Inn, turn left and walk along the road for 100 metres, and take the footpath on the left. Do take care on the road here as there is no footpath for part of the way, and cars whizz along here.

2. Walk through the wooden gates and continue the footpath to the left, up the steps.

3. At the fork in the footpath, ignore the footpath on the right and continue straight ahead. This will gradually lead you to the rock face of Birchen Edge.

Birchen Edge walk

4. Just before you spot Nelsons Monument above on the edge, my boys like to climb up the rocks to the top. If you’re not up for this, continue on a little further, and you will find an easier path up on your right.

Birchen Edge walk
Or if you prefer, go on a little further past Nelsons Monument and an easier footpath up.

5. Once you’re at the top, take a moment for the views from Nelsons Monument. Kids will want to play on the Three Ships boulders behind. We often shelter here for a snack on a windy day.

6. With the edge on your right, continue back towards the pub along the top of Birchen Edge.

Birchen Edge walk

7. There are a couple of footpaths that lead you back down to the footpath below. But we suggest staying up the top for those view for as long as possible. When you reach this sluice valve on the right after about 700 metres (see photo below – top left), take the footpath down on the right. Do take care here as there are some big steps and it gets slippy in wet weather.

8. Once you reach the bottom, take a left a retrace your steps back to the pub.


Peak District Kids is a free online resource. If you enjoyed this walk, you can show your support by buying me a coffee. Thanks so much!

Want more ideas for family walks?
Check out our Best Family Walks in the Peak District
or come and join our friendly Peak District Kids Facebook Group

You may also like to read:
Baslow Edge walk (2.7km)
Baslow to Chatsworth walk (pram friendly, 5.8km)
Beeley and Hill Bank Plantation walk (2.7km)