FKT: James Poole, Anna Mcnestry - Peak Divide - Manchester to Sheffield via Edale - 2023-05-27

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Mixed-gender team
Start date
Finish date
Total time
9h 35m 53s

This picturesque route between Manchester and Sheffield was devised by the Team behind Peak Divide. Devised in the pub (like all good challenges) it began as a two day adventure between the UK's second city and the Steel City, it takes in some of the most challenging terrain in the Peak District including a climb up to Kinder Low (633m) and a traverse along Stanage Edge - one of the UK's premier climbing spots. Our idea was to cover the route in one day, rather than two.

Our journey began early on Monday (27/5/2023) morning. The aim of our adventure was to travel from East London to Manchester by train, run the Peak Divide route and return home in the same day. Not only did this require stamina to cover the 78km but also some luck with the unpredictable British rail service. 

Things began as is normal on the UK's ailing transport system - a 45 minute delay in London waiting for a member of staff to arrive (the driver as it would turn out). Unperturbed by this delay, we enjoyed the two hour journey to Manchester, taking time to fuel and relax ahead of our run. 

The route itself begins only a stones throw from Manchester Piccadilly station at the site of the Vimto monument - a distinctly British soda drink for the uninitiated. Our run began with some quirky navigation through city streets before joining the Ashton Canal for a peaceful 10km run out west through the city suburbs. About 10km down the route turned South West and begun to gently rise. Feeling good, we made steady ground, knowing that more strenuous climbs lay ahead, and a slow rate of progress.

At around 18km we entered Werneth Low Country Park and began the first of the day's climbs up to the Cenotaph with views back across to Manchester. The sun was shining and a light breeze kept us cool enough not to guzzle down our limited water supply. It's worth noting that once outside of Manchester there are few, if any, places to restock water/food until Edale - so anyone attempting this route should bare that in mind. After taking in the views for a few minutes we continued, the High Peaks and our next destination, far in the distance.

The climb to Kinder Low is around 15km long and while not overly technical, it is steep in places and the gritstone boulders and rocks scattered around make the route more challenging. Applying a run/speed hike approach to the steeper sections of the route we were soon up on the ridge, passing between Harry Hut (451m) and Burnt Hill (452m) and on up to Mill Hill (542m) and finally Kinder Low (630m) and the highest point on the route. With no time to tag the summit of Kinder Scout (636m) we rapidly descended down to Edale and the General Store where we could restock with water, coke and ice lollies before attempting the final 35km to Sheffield. Running into Edale we had around 5hrs on the clock and about another 4.5 hours to make the train. Would it be enough time?

A 15 minute break in Edale was sufficient to meet our needs and we began the steep climb out of the valley. With Grindstone Knoll (602m) on our left we hiked hard to regain the lost altitude climbing back above 400m, our legs now more tired from the previous efforts and some definite doubt beginning to set in over that train departure. Rallying hard we were soon running down to Derwent and over the pretty dam that split the valley. Once again we were climbing up, the views back on Derwent lifting our spirits and the knowledge that the final climb up to Stanage would spell the beginning of our descent to Sheffield.

Stanage Edge, in my humble opinion, is one of the highlights of the Peak District. Around 6.5km long its gritstone boulders and cliffs offer great climbing and running with views across the Dark Peak. It is however, usually, windy AF. Apart from on this day, with only a light breeze blowing from the North East. Taking this as a good signed we smashed down a couple more gels, pushed for White Path Moss (457m) and hustled to make that train.

The remaining 10km was a fun downhill run through plantations and parks - totally exceed our expectation of what the run into Sheffield would be like. An easy gradient made for speedy running as we entered the outskirts of the City, and the idea that we actually might make the train became apparent. We mustered up a bit more energy, our quads sore from the downhills - living in a flat city doesn't make for great quad conditioning - navigating the last kilometres through the city centre itself. Moments later we ran the final uphill to the finish point, a quiet, unassuming back street in central Sheffield. We'd done it. 9 hours 35 minutes and 53 seconds. 

With only 20 minutes to spare before our train we took little time to celebrate, jogging on (albeit at a slow pace) to the station where we boarded our London bound train with 4 minutes (and a couple of beers) in hand. A terrific route and a first-class day out.