The circuit of the north edge of Kinder Scout is one of the classic gritstone outings which offers a combination of all of the best aspects of these areas - a steep ascent, an airy edge with numerous rocky outcrops and several fine viewpoints from which to survey the surrounding countryside.
The walk described starts and finishes at the Snake Inn on the A57 road down the Ashop valley. From the inn walk down the road for about 400 metres until a stile leads over the wall and into the woods below the road. A rather boggy track through the woods leads to a footbridge across the River Ashop and around the corner to the Fair Brook stream, one of the Ashop's tributaries which comes tumbling down the hillside from the Kinder plateau above.
A well-worn path on the north side of Fair Brook follows the stream uphill, at an easy angle initially but getting gradually steeper as it ascends. The going gets steadily harder and rougher and the last half kilometre is really quite steep with an element of clambering over boulders required for progress to continue. Stick with the path and follow it right up to the plateau - it's well worth the effort.
The path finally reaches the Kinder plateau in a cleft where the Fair Brook tumbles off the edge of the hill in a small cascade. Turn sharp right and follow the plateau edge back to the north over some fairly rough ground. The position is really fine, with magnificent views eastwards down into the Ashop valley, across to Alport Castles and over to the weird shapes of the Derwent Edge tors which loom on the horizon. The scope of the panorama increases as you approach Fairbrook Naze, which is situated at the apex of the northern edge and offers a fine view of the southern side of Bleaklow in addition to the country already visible. On a fine day this is a place to linger - it's one of the finest viewpoints in the Peak.
The route now follows the northern edge westwards to the north-west corner of the plateau, which is a distance of only a little over 3 kilometres, but seems much further. The reason is that the path, unlike the other routes around the edges of the plateau, is quite hard going on uneven and often quite broken ground. There are two quite large streams to cross - Upper Red Brook and Nether Red Brook - and you pass several large crags, some of which have areas of fissured rocks at the top which have to scrambled over. Enjoy the position - it's an impressive edge with a steep drop down to the Upper Alport valley below and a good view across the desolate area to the north.
Kinder North Edge
Eventually the ground becomes easier and the angle of the slope down to the Ashop valley eases as you approach the north-west corner of the plateau. There are several small paths here and in mist it's surprisingly easy to head off in the wrong direction, but if you keep going a little north of west you cannot fail to reach the point where the Pennine Way comes along the western edge of the plateau and then descends steeply down to the col which marks the watershed between the Upper Ashop valley and William Clough. The paving here is an unfortunate consequence of the popularity of this area of the Peak - too many feet tramping down the hillside here has caused serious erosion.
From the col turn right (almost north) and drop into the Upper Alport valley, following the stream quite closely initially (too closely perhaps, you often have to wade in it here) and then along a good path which hugs the north side of the stream. It's a really pleasant, leisurely walk down the valley alongside the stream with no route-finding problems, downhill and on mostly easy ground - generally in contrast with the first half of the route.
After nearly five kilometres you reach the trees which fill the Lady Clough valley which comes in from the north. The path goes into the forest and crosses Lady Clough on a wooden footbridge before ascending steeply to the A57 road just above the Snake Inn. Another 300 metres of downhill takes you to the inn and a welcome chance of refreshment.
If you think this walk is too short for a full day then it is quite easy to lengthen it by including Seal Edge, which lies to the east of Fair Brook. When you initially reach Fair Brook where it joins the Ashop, wade across the brook and continue through some walled sheep-pens to reach a path which makes a rising traverse up the hillside above the Ashop beyond Fair Brook. This leads around the hillside to another stream, Gate Side Clough, which the path crosses and then follows steeply up the hillside. It's quite a hard slog up to the edge which is reached around Seal Stones, and from there a faint but quite easy path leads west to rejoin the main route at the top of Fair Brook after another three kilometres.