Edale - Looking back down Crowden Brook towards Upper Booth and beyond to Rushup Edge
About this image
The valley was formed by grinding action of the glaciers of the last Ice Age about 10,000 years ago. Overlooked by the Iron Age fort on Mam Tor, Edale Valley is the wide expanse of green which lies just to the south of the great gritstone and peat mass of Kinder Scout. Possibly not permanently settled in Saxon times, Edale (called 'Aidale' in the Domesday Book) became part of the 'Royal Forest of the Peak' after the Norman conquest. This 'Royal Forest' covered a large proportion of the modern Peak District and in it farming and settlements were discouraged because they got in the way of the hunting. This meant that Edale developed slowly throughout mediaeval times. There were herdsmans' shelters or 'booths' at what are now the hamlets of Upper Booth, Barber Booth, Ollerbrook Booth and Nether Booth. The central 'booth' was Grindsbrook Booth - now usually called Edale Village. Five Royal Farms were established in the reign of King John but it was not until the Royal Forest system effectively collapsed in Tudor times that proper settlements developed in the valley. In Elizabethan times the valley was effectively a large cattle ranch based around the five farms. By the eighteenth century the pastures were full of sheep rather than cattle and the enclosure acts of the late 18th century resulted in the valley becoming a patchwork quilt of small fields enclosed by stone walls built out of the local gritstone. This had a dramatic effect on the look of the valley and now the walls look as though they have been there for ever, but actually they are mostly less than 200 years old. In late Victorian times (1894) the railway arrived, driven through the 2-mile long Cowburn tunnel at the head of the vale. It linked Manchester to Sheffield and rapid travel from Edale to either of these cities suddenly became a possibility. The valley has since become a popular area with hikers, offering them some of the most dramatic scenery in the Peak District.