The Hope Valley is a large, wide valley running East-West along the boundary between the gritstone moors and edges of the 'Dark Peak' and the limestone outcrops and deep cut dales of the 'White Peak'. Best known as wonderful walking country, it is also a haven for many others including bikers, pony trekkers, hang-gliders, rockclimbers and potholers as well as for the quieter activities of artists, anglers and birdwatchers.
Mam Tor, the 'Shivering Mountain' heads the valley. Now a launch pad for hang-gliders, it was once the home of Iron Age people whose fort can still be seen on top of the hill. The spectacular Winnats Pass is the only road in from the west now that the road down the shivering face of Mam Tor has been swept away by repeated landslips. A classic collapsed gorge, Winnats Pass threads its way between steep limestone crags in an area honeycombed with potholes and old lead mines, source of the unique and attractive Blue John stone.
Castleton is a centre for visiting many of these old workings, which can also be seen at Bagshawe Cavern near Bradwell and at Poole's Cavern in Buxton. Blue John is turned into jewellery in Castleton's craft shops and the village is famous too for its Christmas lights and the ancient Garland Ceremony held every May.
Guarding the village is the prominent Norman keep of Peveril Castle, halfway up the cliff above it and built in 1088 by William I's illegitimate son William Peveril. A man despised by the locals at the time.
To the north of the valley a walk from Mam Tor to Losehill along the ridge dividing the Hope and Edale valleys gives unrivalled views in both directions.
Climbers on Stanage
From here the walker can descend into Hope - the central village of the valley, with its fine church and Saxon cross. Additional attractions here include tempting shops and the old established sheep and cattle market.
The train from Manchester or Sheffield is a popular way to visit the valley. From the west, the line bursts out of the Cowburn Tunnel to stop at Edale - the next valley north of Hope Valley, a great centre for walkers, pony trekkers and campers and the start of the Pennine Way. The railway follows the Edale Valley to its junction with Hope Valley just east of Hope Village and continues eastwards with stations at Hope, Bamford and Hathersage.
The three rivers which define the valley are; Peak Water, rising from Peak Cavern and flowing to Hope; the River Noe, rising on Kinder Scout near Edale and flowing down to join Peak Water near Hope; and the River Derwent, rising on Howden Moor before flowing through a series of massive reservoirs on its way to meet the Noe at Bamford. These reservoirs are another important recreational centre. Bicycles can be hired to explore their pine clad slopes or perhaps you would rather sample the excellent fishing on the Ladybower Reservoir at the Eastern end of the A57, Snake Pass.
After leaving Bamford, the Derwent meanders tranquilly to Hathersage, the largest village in the valley and another good shopping centre but which also has a swimming pool, a church which is famous for brass rubbings and the reputed site of Little John's grave. Above Hathersage the rocks of Stanage Edge and other gritstone edges loom on the horizon - these are a testing training ground for rock-climbers of all abilities.
At Hathersage the Derwent makes a sharp right turn to flow southwards. This appears to make the Hope Valley appear apart from the rest of the Derwent Valley and from the surrounding uplands - hemmed in by the slopes of Mam Tor to the west and by the gritstone edges to the east.