Kinder Scout Circular Walk via Kinder Downfall

Highlights of Kinder Scout Circular Walk

The Kinder Scout Walk is a popular circuit hike that covers a section of the famed Pennine Way.

As the highest point in the Peak District National Park at 633 metres (2077 ft) above sea level, Kinder Plateau boasts fantastic views of Kinder Reservoir and the East Midlands.

On a clear day, you can see Manchester from the top. And if you’re really lucky, you might even be able to see Mount Snowdon in the distance!

However, the highlight for many is Kinder Downfall, a beautiful waterfall that often blows upwards because of the high winds.

Those looking for a longer, more challenging experience should consider extending their walk to include Kinder Low (also known as Trig Point) and Grindslow Knoll.

Essential Information for the Walk

Distance and Duration

The Kinder Scout Circular takes an average of 4.5 hours to complete. We stopped twice to eat a snack behind some of the rocky outcrops and managed to finish in just over 4 hours.

If you opt to add on Kinder Low and Grindslow Knoll, you’re looking at a whole day of hiking.

Difficulty and Terrain

This is a relatively challenging hike with uneven terrain. All Trails classes it as ‘hard’.

The start of the walk begins on flat ground as you lead north from parking lot. However, once you pass the Kinder Resevoir, you will begin a steep inline toward the Kinder Plateau.

Thankfully it levels off once you reach the top, allowing at least an hour of flat walking before you need to start the steep descent back down.

The terrain is often rocky and uneven. Definitely stick to the trail as it can be very boggy. When we were there, another hiker said they witnessed someone sink to their hips in one of the peat bogs!

If there is heavy rain or strong wind, we advise against attempting this route. It can be especially windy at the top (it is the highest peak, after all) and the ground is far too uneven for it to be safe to do in wet weather.

Route Options and Variations

Consider alternate routes, such as the Jacob’s Ladder ascent, or variations incorporating Crowden Clough, Grindslow Knoll, Grindsbrook Clough, or Ringing Roger for added adventure.


There are no shops or facilities along the route whatsoever, so we suggest you pack water and a light lunch.

Public toilets are located just opposite the Bowden Bridge Car Park. Walk towards the sign for Hayfield Campsite and they will be on your left, as marked on our map of the Peak District.

There are no bins for litter or dog poo along the trail. Please be courteous and clean up after yourself.

Best Time to Visit

Most opt for late spring to early autumn for the best weather conditions and vibrant landscapes. We did the Kinder Scout walk in the height of winter and had no issues (other than some strong winds).

Detailed Walk Itinerary

As this is a circular route, you could technically walk it in either direction. However, we believe that the best way is the route outlined below:

Stage 1 – Start of the Kinder Scout Walk to William Clough

The walk begins at the car park. Continue along the paved road, heading north.

Eventually you will come to a wooden gate. Pass through that and up the narrow stone path. At the top you will have a beautiful view of Kinder Resevoir.

Continue onwards with the reservoir on your right. Eventually you will reach a sign for William Clough. It states that the Peak District National Park was formed after the 1932 Kinder Mass Trespass, which paved the way for public access to the countryside.

Stage 2 – William Clough to the Summit of Kinder Scout

After crossing a small bridge, begin the challenging walk up toward the Kinder Plateau. It’s a tough climb, but well worth it! We stopped several times along the way to take photos and catch our breath.

You’ll know you’re nearing the crest when you spot the large Edale rocks. There are several of these all along the peak. Not only are these a beautiful product of nature, but also a very effective shield against the wind!

Stage 3 – Kinder Plateau to Kinder Downfall and Swine’s Back

Once at the top, take a breather and indulge in the magnificent views of the East Midlands. On a sunny day, you’ll be able to see Manchester out to the right and possibly even Snowdon further out in the same direction.

With your back facing the view, continue east along the cliffside until you arrive at a small river crossing. Just a short distance beyond this is the magnificent Kinder Downfall.

Another peak, Noe Stool is also in the distance, as is Mermaid Pool.

From here you will continue along the great ridge to Swine’s Back, treating yourself to uninterrupted vistas of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

Believe it or, this stretch of the trail is actually part of the Pennine Way, a 268 mile trail that starts in the pretty village of Edale and continues all the way up to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders.

Stage 4 – Swine’s Back back to Hayfield

Next, turn right when you reach the flagstone path. After just over 3 hours of walking, it’s finally time to descend.

Head down the steep stone steps, over the cattle gate, and across upper booth farm.

You will eventually get to a road that follows Descend towards Hayfield, completing the circular loop with a sense of accomplishment. Relish the stunning scenery as you wrap up this exhilarating journey.

Getting There

If you head out early enough, you may be able to secure a spot at Bowdwn Bridge Car Park, the starting point of the walk.

However, parking spaces are extremely limited. There is also an extra cost to park there.

Alternatively, you can park along the road leading to the car park. Just be sure not to park on a double yellow line or block the way for emergency vehicles.

Public transport is very limited in this area. The nearest train station is in New Mills. From there, you can get a bus to Hayfield and then walk the rest of the way to the start of the trail.

Alternatively, if you wanted to do the Kinder Scout via Crowden Clough and Jacob’s Ladder Circular route, you could start from Edale station instead.

Weather Considerations

As Kinder Scout is at a high elevation and very exposed, it’s a good idea to be prepared for bad weather even on the clearest of days.

Pack waterproof gear, dress in layers, and be prepared for varying conditions. Be cautious of strong winds, especially near Kinder Downfall.

Other Kinder Scout Walks

Kinder Low (Trig Point), Kinder Scout, and Grindslow Knoll Circular

This is a challenging 11.5-mile trail that follows a similar route but incorporates Kinder Low and Grindslow Knoll. Taking approximately 6 hours, it weaves through farmlands, Kinder Cavern, and offers stunning views of rock formations. On clear days you can also see Mam Tor in the distance.

Kinder Scout via Crowden Clough and Jacob’s Ladder Circular

The route involves a grade 1 scramble, demanding sturdy footwear and fitness. Starting from Barber Booth car park just outside of Edale village, it ascends via Crowden Clough, reaching Crowden Tower for sensational views. Descend via Jacob’s Ladder along the Edale moor, a reconstructed path, passing landmarks like Edale Cross. This route has the added benefit of ending near Old Nags Head Pub – a fantastic local eatery that serves great pints of ale.

Conclusion and Final Tips

Overall Impression of Kinder Scout Circular Walk

This challenging circular walk provides a captivating blend of natural beauty and exhilarating terrain, making it a must-do for avid hikers seeking a Peak District adventure.

Final Recommendations and Considerations

Prepare thoroughly, respect the environment, and relish every moment of this Kinder Scout Circular Walk. Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a nature enthusiast, this trail promises an unforgettable experience and great views in the heart of the Peak District.

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