Hope Pilgrimage (Peak District) – 29 miles, 2-3 days

This pilgrimage route goes in the opposite direction to the Pennine Way. It takes you over Mam Tor to Castleton, famous for its caves and its Blue John semi-precious stones. Mostly the hills and valleys are extraordinarily beautiful, and you walk through the country’s largest cement works and an old Roman camp on the way to the village of Hope. After a stiff climb up Win Hill and a good look down the plughole at the end of Ladybower Reservoir you will climb up to the rock climbers’ favourite place on Stanage Edge and down to Hathersage, where you can swim outdoors before tackling the last climb to Eyam, where in 1666 the villagers heroically stayed put to contain the plague within the village.

As well as taking you through awesome, beautiful and remote landscapes, the Hope Pilgrimage takes you into nine lovely churches where you can pause before stamping your Guidebook. Simply walking through this wonderful scenery is therapy itself, and it might help renew your hope for the future, for this is a pilgrimage of hope.

You can walk the route in about three days, but if you take a bit longer you can also explore the Great Indoors in one of the Castleton Caves and go outdoor swimming in Hathersage. Return home with a Blue John stone and new hope in your heart.

If you think the Pennine Way is too short, start at Eyam and walk the Hope Pilgrimage to Edale– both the guidebook and the waymarks allow for this. Then away you go to Scotland. Alternatively, link the Hope Pilgrimage with the Peak Pilgrimage, start in Ilam and walk all 68 miles off road to Edale through the best bits of the Peak District.

Read more about the Peak and Hope Pilgrimages

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Tom Jones

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