Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob's Ladder 1
Jacob’s Ladder in the Derbyshire Peak District

Jacob’s Ladder is the name given to one of the main routes on to Kinder Scout in the Derbyshire Peak District. Located on the Pennine Way just beyond the small hamlet of Upper Booth, close to Edale, Jacob’s Ladder is a set of stone steps cut into the hillside, ascending onto the Kinder plateau. 

The Jacob’s Ladder footpath runs across land that is owned and managed by the National Trust. It’s part of the Kinder Scout Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which was designated as a National Nature Reserve in 2009. 

Jacob’s Ladder is reached by a very narrow and picturesque 17th Century stone packhorse bridge over the River Noe, nestled amid the wild hills and cloughs of this part of the Vale of Edale.

The bridge is a designated Grade II listed structure, located on what was once an important packhorse route over the Pennine moorland between Hayfield and Edale, used from medieval times into the 18th Century. At its narrowest point the parapet walls of the bridge are only 27 inches apart.

Jacob's Ladder 2

At the top of Jacob’s Ladder is Edale Cross, an ancient wayside cross which marks the boundary between three local wards. The exact date of the cross is unknown, although its listing as a protected Scheduled Monument dates it to the Medieval period. The date ‘1810’ carved into it denotes the year it was replaced in position by a group of local farmers who found it buried in the nearby peat. They also carved their initials onto the front.

Edale Cross

Jacob’s Ladder is an important landmark at the start of the Pennine Way, a long distance footpath that stretches for 268 miles between Edale in Derbyshire and Kirk Yetholm in the Borders of Scotland.

Who was Jacob anyway?

Jacob’s Ladder is thought to have been named after a local farmer, Jacob Marshall, who farmed the land at Edale Head in the 18th Century. Local folklore suggests that he cut steps into this section of the route to allow easier access to his land from the nearest settlements. 

Jacob's Ladder Edale Kinder Scout

Why are there two ‘Ladders’?

The ‘modern’ Jacob’s Ladder was opened in 1987. It rises steeply and fairly directly up the side of the hill from the packhorse bridge on a series of paved stone steps. 

Directly next to it, veering off to the left in a dog leg that reaches the same summit point, is the original path, still easily accessible but with a more uneven surface. A great walk is to take one ‘ladder’ up and the other ‘ladder’ down.

Jacob’s Ladder is also the name of a delicate blue flower, Polemonium caeruleum, which was adopted as the county flower of Derbyshire in 2002.

Jacob's Ladder 3

How do I get there?

Jacob’s Ladder can be reached via the Pennine Way footpath from Edale village, or directly along the footpath from the (free) car park at Barber Booth (S33 7ZL).

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