Hiking Kinder Scout with kids from Hayfield (14km)
The expansive moorland plateau of Kinder Scout is the highest point in the Peak District, and on a clear day you can see across to Manchester. This is where 500 walkers trespassed en masse and walked from Hayfield to Kinder Scout to secure access right to open country for all to enjoy forever in 1932. It is an iconic hike, which is remote and technical in places.
We did this 14km circular route with our boys (age 5 and 6). It may seem young, but we take them hiking regularly. We also set off at 9am in July, so we had lots of time up our sleeve to take it slow and steady. It took us 8 hours in total, so quite an epic Peak District hike with kids.
Need to know
DISTANCE OF WALK: 14 km
TYPE OF WALK: circular and challenging. There are almost no flat sections, and coming down William Clough is very steep.
PARKING: There is paid parking at Bowden Bridge car park here. We camped the night before at Hayfield Campsite run by The Camping and Caravanning Club.
WALK HIGHLIGHTS: An iconic walk with epic views. Edale Rocks, Kinder Low Trig Point, and Kinder Downfall are our top highlights from this walk, but there really are so many.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE: With a 5 and 6 year old this took us 8 hours.
TOTAL ASCENT: 750 metres
PUBLIC TOILETS: There are no public toilets on this walk, though there are council toilets across the bridge from Bowden Bridge car park.
Top tips for hiking Kinder Scout with kids
Pack lots of snacks to keep the kids going (although that’s pretty standard for any hike we do with the boys).
Have lots of little breaks along the way, rather than aiming for big long breaks.
The weather can change very quickly up there, pack an extra layer than what you’re hiking in.
Only do this walk in good hiking boots. This walk is technical in places (by this I mean you need to get on your bum at times).
Consider taking water purification tablets so you can fill up your water bottles from streams safely enroute.
Take a compass and OS Map in case visibility is low.
Start your walk early in the day and during the summer months, so as to maximise daylight hours and allow yourselves lots of time.
Consider camping the night before and after at Hayfield Campsite. This means you don’t have to drive the same day, and you’re sorted for parking. We left a bolognese cooking in a slow cooker in our Mazda Bongo for our return and those cold beers in the fridge were very much appreciated.
Many people do this route in reverse, starting with the iconic William Clough route up. However, this is a steeper ascent, and we wanted to take a more gradual approach with the boys; hence doing the loop the other way around. Although our way does make for a steep descent down towards the end of the walk when your legs are tired.
1. Follow the footpath that cuts through the campsite, and follow it south through the woods for 50 metres, then through the gate and follow the path up to the left. This is a steady climb on a rocky path, and soon you will spot the campsite below to the left.
2. Keep following the path steadily up hill for about 700 metres until you reach the gate in the photo below.
3. Go through the gate and follow the footpath down to meet a paved footpath. The views here a beautiful up to Kinder. Enjoy the steady pace downhill until you reach a stream. Go through the gate and start your steady climb uphill towards the Kinder Plateau.
4. It’s a steady 3 km hike uphill on a rocky path. Take your time and allow yourself some rest stops to take in the views. Though it is a steady incline and not too steep. However, do be weary of mountain bikers that come careering down here at lightening speed. Most are courteous, but there are a few that weren’t able to stop, although you’ll hear them before you see them.
5. You then meet the signpost on the left for the Pennine way. This is the final uphill push of 250 metres onto the Kinder Plateau. You may notice that it gets busier here as you are converging with hikers who have come up from Edale.
6. Take a breather at Edale Rocks. Surprisingly the boys had energy to clamber all over the rocks!
7. From Edale Rocks, follow the path further along (and to the left) towards the Kinder Low Trig Point. This is just off the main path. At 633 metres, it’s the highest point on Kinder Scout and the highest point in the Peak District, so worth the little detour for a photo! It’s also the end of the climbing, and you will mostly be heading down hill from this point onwards, although along the edge of the Kinder Plateau is relatively flat.
8. Do be warned that the Kinder Low Trig Point is not the half way point, it’s really closer to Kinder Downfall. Follow the footpath that leads along the edge of Kinder Plateau towards Kinder Downfall for about 2.3km. On a clear day you can see across to Manchester! Whilst this view is initially impressive, I found that it took away the remote feel of the walk. The path along here is rocky with lots of boulders to jump off. The kids would walk along only stepping on the rocks as a game, which maintained their pace.
9. Kinder Downfall is a good stopping point. The waterfall is very impressive (although you can’t actually see it from where you cross) and there are lots of boulders to perch and take in the view, or perhaps take your hiking boots off and sooth your weary feet in the stream.
10. From Kinder Downfall, the footpath continues along the Plateau edge for a further 2 km, before descending steeply to the start of William Clough. The footpath leads you to an intersection (shown in the second photo below, to left). Make sure you look back behind you to appreciate the distance you have walked with your kids along the edge of Kinder Plateau.
11. It’s a tricky descent down William Clough towards Kinder Resevoir. Expect to get on your bum at times to climb down sections, and the path also keeps criss-crossing the stream flowing downwards. The boys were in their element, but my knees were feeling it and I was tired at this point.
12. Once you reach Kinder Reservoir, follow the footpath along it’s northeastern shore, to finally exit on to the top of Kinder Road. Finally a flat section!
13. Follow Kinder Road back to your car or campsite.
14. Loop completed. That was an epic hike with our kids, and I’m pleased there was a cold beer waiting for us in the fridge of our camper.
Final thoughts on hiking Kinder Scout with kids
I’ll be honest, I was nervous about this walk and how the boys would cope. But they absolutely amazed me and I’m beyond proud of them! This walk is so fun for them with all the boulders to climb and uneven paths, they were in their element. I just wish I had their stamina, as I was knackered by the time we started descending William Clough (I should have brought the hiking poles).
We totally lucked out on the weather and it certainly made all the difference having those epic views to reward our efforts. Not sure we would have found it as easy on a windy, rainy day with low visibility.
If you’re thinking about hiking Kinder Scout with kids, do it! Our advice is to get an early start, take your time, keep a steady pace, and pack lots of snacks!
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