Family-Friendly Activities In The Peak District


Gorge Walking In The Peak District

Rosie Bellwood Helen Moat
By Rosie Bellwood & Helen Moat

Gorge walking, also known as river scrambling or Ghyll scrambling, is a fun group activity for children and adults alike (depending on the location) that sees you scrambling up waterfalls, swimming through rivers and jumping off rocks into pools. It has similarities with caving, but above ground.

A number of operators offer gorge walking (more accurately, river scrambling) experiences in the Peak District. They usually include equipment hire and can be tailored to suit abilities, although this is a primarily energetic activity, with experienced guides to lead you through the waterways.

Burbage Brook Peak District

Burbage Brook

Gorge walking locations in the Peak District

Chatsworth Estate

The wooded ravine of Beeley Hell Bank Plantation and Beeley Plantation above the Chatsworth estate village makes for some thrilling scrambling. Afterwards you can rest up at the Devonshire Arms or the Old Smithy cafe, both offering excellent food.


Padley Gorge next to Grindleford Station is a superb location for gorge scrambling with its whirlpools, weathered rocks, rapids and steep-sided banks of twisted tree roots. When done, Grindleford Station Cafe offers up no-nonsense comfort food and big portions.

Alternatively, where Burbage Brook emerges onto open moorland, a short walk takes you up to the recently refurbished Longshaw Cafe with new picture windows, providing a chew with a view.


The scramble up Kinder Downfall is not for the faint-hearted. Follow the reservoir, then the stream to reach Kinder Downfall. This section is short but tricky, requiring rock shoes and climbing equipment – although it’s graded as a moderate scramble, it’s definitely only suitable for experienced scramblers and climbers. If you’re a beginner, book a guide. Blackden Brook also offers rocky scrambling and lots of waterfall scrambling off the path.

To experience more challenging river scrambling on the Kinder Massif and on the higher reaches of the Dark Peak book a course. Many of them are based in Hathersage and the Hope Valley, making use of local rivers, streams and gullies.

Stoney Middleton

Stoney Middleton offers decent stream scrambling in the wooded river valleys of Dale Brook and Stoke Brook.

Tintwistle Falls

Above the Longdendale reservoirs, you’ll find Tintwistle Falls. The so-called ‘Seven Falls’ makes for some great river scrambling along Arnfield Brook, tumbling off the uplands between Tintwistle Low Moor and Arnfield Moor. Refuel and re-energise in one of the no-nonsense cafes in Hadfield – known as Royston Vasey in the TV series, League of Gentlemen.

Torside Clough

On the other side of Longdendale, set out from Torside Car Park, next to Torside Reservoir, and climb Torside Clough up towards Skyes Moor. There’s great scrambling to be found here among the boulders with water trickling through, or cascading, depending on the season. The best section is on the left side with plenty of good handholds in the cracks of the rocks and less water. Climbing through the waterfall section is best done in dry weather or in hard winter conditions when you can try your hand at ice climbing. Either way, the upper sections require scrambling and climbing experience.

Upper Derwent

The young River Derwent that drops down off the moors before flowing into Howden Reservoir is a great place for scrambling over rocks and jumping into the pools at Slippery Stones. Bring a picnic or head down to the kiosk at Fairholmes Car Park.

Need to know

Due to the nature of gorge walking/river scrambling, it is important to come prepared with sturdy shoes or wellies you are happy to get wet, a wet suit and over layers as well as something to dry to change into and safety equipment including a crash helmet. Equipment is generally included on gorge walking activity days.

It’s best to book a gorge walking course with an outdoor adventure company, not go it alone. Some of the stretches adventure companies use require them to seek permission from farmers and local authorities while others are environmentally sensitive.

About the authors

Gorge Walking In The Peak District

Rosie Bellwood

Rosie is a writer from Sheffield who has spent the last couple of years pottering about Europe, Southeast Asia and New Zealand, writing screenplays and blogging about her favourite films.

Gorge Walking In The Peak District

Helen Moat

Helen Moat is author of Bradt Guides' Slow Travel The Peak District. She is also a regular contributor for Wanderlust, Derbyshire Life, BBC Countryfile, among others. Now settled in the Peak District, she is constantly inspired by the landscape and the people and places shaped by the Peak.

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