Mount Famine + South Head Walk From Hayfield | 7-Mile Route

Cloud inversion and Peak District hills

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This walk is a must-do route. You may not have heard of Mount Famine or South Head, they certainly aren’t as popular as Mam Tor, Win Hill or Kinder Scout but you won’t be disappointed!

This 7-mile route begins from Hayfield and heads along the Pennine Bridleway before the uphill to reach Mount Famine, which has stunning views of the Kinder Scout Plateau and over to your next hill, South Head. Both of these hills are Peak District Ethels so that’s two more to tick off your list!

The route is a short, steep up and down to South Head, from here you have a different perspective of the surrounding hills. Then, it’s down walking alongside Brown Knoll. If you wish, you can do a short detour along the flagstones to reach the trig point (and another Ethel).

Next it’s down to the path junction. From here, you have two options, if the weather is bad you can take the bridleway all the way back to Hayfield. Or you can head up to Swine’s Back and down Kinderlow End for some bonus epic views. (Details included in the route stages below.)

Here you will find details on how to get to the start of the walk at Hayfield, route information, map, GPX file, plus a detailed step by step guide of the walk.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve done this walk from Hayfield, and what you think!

Mount Famine + South Head walk from Hayfield

Views back to South Head

Walk information + GPX

Walk type: Medium Circular Walk

Distance: 6.6 miles/10.6 km

Walk time:  3.5-4.5 hours

Total ascent: 489 m/1,604 ft

Highest point: 606 m/1,988 ft

Walk highlights: Mount Famine, South Head, views of Kinder Plateau, Swine’s Back and walk down Kinderlow End

Trigs: 0 or 1 – (option to add Brown Knoll + Kinder Low)

Ethels: 2 or 3 – Mount Famine + South Head (option to add Brown Knoll + Kinder Low)

Stiles: 8

gpx file

Mount Famine + South Head Walk Map

Mount Famine and South Head walk map
Mount Famine and South Head walk map
Click for online map © Crown copyright and database rights (2023) OS 002572460

Walk Start Point

Bowden Bridge car park Hayfield
Car park at start of walk

Start grid reference: SK 04856 86921

Car parking address: Bowden Bridge car park, 165 Kinder Road, Hayfield, High Peak, SK22 2LH – Google location

This is a small car park which can get busy during peak times. Alternatively, there’s some street parking available on the road alongside the Sportsman pub.

Parking cost – cash only (9 am to 6 pm)*

  • Up to 1 hour – £1.50
  • 1-2 hours £2.50
  • 2-4 hours £4.00
  • All day £4.75

*Prices correct at time of writing

Public transport

The nearest train station is Glossop (6 miles/10 km). From here, you can then catch the no. 61 bus (High Peak service) from Glossop to Hayfield bus station, so you can begin the route from there alongside the River Kinder (about a mile from Bowden Bridge car park).

Facilities on the walk

Public toilets near Hayfield Campsite
Public toilets near Hayfield Campsite

There are public toilets available at the start of the walk at Bowden Bridge, Hayfield, a small block opposite the car park at the entrance to Hayfield Campsite.

Other useful information

Although this is a short walk, you do gain some height therefore it’s important to pack some warmer clothes for the higher sections of the walk.

Peak District weather

The weather can vary widely from Hayfield to the top of the hills, so please check the conditions and make sure you have warm/waterproofs if necessary.

Ordnance Survey walk map

The map for this walk is the Ordnance Survey OL1 – Peak District (Dark Peak Area). Check prices here with Ordnance Survey or Amazon. If you’re hiking in all weathers the Active OS maps are good to have.

See both Peak District maps here.

And don’t forget your compass, I recommend the Silva Expedition or the Silva Classic compass.

For online maps, I recommend the OS Online App (I have been using for many years and it is worth getting if you want to start walking more). Check prices here for the one month or annual option with OS Online App. All the walks on the website are created using OS Online + you can download them to the App.

Mount Famine + South Head walk route

Stage 1 – Hayfield to Mount Famine

Distance: 1.6 miles/1.6 km

Grid reference SK 04856 86921

Path next to Hayfield campsite

From Bowden Bridge car park, cross the road over the bridge, turn right and walk down the path next to the campsite reception (photo above), go past and continue alongside the river until you reach a signpost. Turn left, heading for Highgate Head, go through the two gates in between the campsite then up the steps. Continue through the small wooden gate and turn left onto the Pennine Bridleway, signposted South Head (photo below).

Signpost to South Head

Follow the bridleway, through another gate and heading downhill where it reaches another wide track, walk on this for a few metres then take the path bearing right and heading uphill. At the next wide gate, turn left immediately before it and walk alongside the wall to a stepped stile over a wall.

Stepped stile towards Mount Famine

Once over the stile, walk until you reach a gap in the wall on the right, go through here and keep walking through the field heading uphill. At the end of the field there’s another gap in the stone wall, cross here (photo below) and continue walking uphill. As you reach the stop, bear left which takes you to the edge and some beautiful views as you continue on to reach the summit of Mount Famine.

Gap in stone wall ahead and Mount Famine hill

Stage 2 – Mount Famine to South Head

Distance: 0.4 mile/0.7 km

Grid reference SK 0563 8492

Cloud inversion
Cloud inversion on Mount Famine

From Mount Famine summit, enjoy those views all the way across to Kinder Scout and also nearby South Head. Continue along the narrow trod and over a wooden stile before the path takes you downhill. At the bottom, turn left as this joins a wider track, walk up and just after the old stone gate post (photo below) there’s a faint path bearing off right and heading up to South Head summit.

Path on right leading to South Head summit

Skip South Head option – If you’d prefer not to do this then remain on the lower path which skirts around South Head hill and you can pick up the route on the other side.

Keep walking up to the top of South Head where a stone cairn marks the summit. That’s two Ethels ticked off already!

Views from South Head with a cloud inversion

Stage 3 – South Head to Swine’s Back

Distance: 2.2 miles/3.5 km

Grid reference SK 0608 8455

Follow the main path down from South Head, you’ll cross over a path but continue heading in an easterly direction as the path follows the stone wall. This section was the muddiest on the entire walk, so here’s where those gaiters and hiking boots will pay off (if not you’ll need to do some bog jumping).

Path down from South Head

Walk along the path, go over a wooden stile, then you’ll pick up a flagstoned path, keep walking east and follow the path all the way to the end.

Brown Knoll option – after 2.5 km, on your right, you’ll walk past a wooden stile in the fence, this takes you to Brown Knoll trig point (SK 0837 8512) approximately 350 metres (there and back).

Flagstone path

At the end of the path, you’ll reach another path and stone wall. Go right through the wide gate then immediately left following the signpost for the Pennine Way that heads uphill.

Option – if you’d prefer to head down, don’t go through the gate, but instead turn left and follow the bridleway all the way downhill to Hayfield.

The path heads towards a small hill known as Swine’s Back, follow the path as it skirts in front bearing right, then take the left hand path – almost walking back on yourself as it takes a steep uphill to the top.

Enjoy the views and maybe your lunch from this location!

Views from Swine’s Back

Stage 4 – Swine’s Back to Hayfield

Distance: 2.4 miles/3.8 km

Grid reference SK 0791 8633

Then from the top of Swine’s Back, head ‘off path’ down the other side until you reach the path at the bottom, turn right heading along the path (Edale Rocks ahead to your right). At the next path junction, turn right which will take you to Kinderlow End and some beautiful views of Kinder Plateau on your right.

Picking up the footpath with Edale Rocks ahead

Walk to the end of the path then you’ll pick up the rocky downhill descent, carefully take this all the way to the bottom, go through the gate and take the path bearing right alongside the wall. 

Start of rocky descent from Kinderlow End

You’ll then reach another gate in the wall next to a signpost for Kinderlow End, turn right through the gate then head left towards the gap in the next wall. Continue walking until you reach another fence, go over the stile, then down to another one.

You’ll then reach another wooden stile, next to a large stone and one more before you reach a path alongside a stone wall, then another wooden stile next to some houses, follow the path as it loops around the house, and out onto a road.

One of the many stiles on the route down

Follow this down until you reach the River Kinder and turn left again with the river on your right. Walk down towards the campsite and caravan park and before you reach it turn right and you’re back at the car park.

Ask me any questions about this walk from Hayfield in the comments below.

Other walk information

More walks in the Peak District

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