Starting my Peak Challenge


I’m lucky to live right on the edge of the Peak District, but despite that, when I’m planning a trip, I always feel the urge to travel to the Dales, the Lakes or Snowdonia. I feel like I’ve “done” the Peak District, but really I know that isn’t remotely true.

I’ve been inspired by Alastair Humphreys’ article, A Single Map is Enough, where he decides to focus on a single map sheet to provide a theme for his “microadventures”. Funnily enough, in his article, Alastair says…

I would go so far as to argue that out of the 403 OS Explorer Maps that cover the entire UK, my map is right down in the relegation zone of rubbish adventure boredom!??

But this also makes my experiment a far fairer and more interesting one that if I lived –say– on Map 402 in Scotland or Map 24 in the Peak District.

Alastair Humphreys

Well, I don’t live on OL24 (White Peak), but I do live on OL1 (Dark Peak)! So I think it’s only fair that I attack my challenge with an unrivalled thoroughness, as I have easy access to so much open space. My aim is to visit every single 1km2 grid square within my defined area. I’m calling it my “Peak Challenge”.

The area I’ve defined is bounded to the north by Woodhead Pass, to the east and west by the Peak District National Park boundary, and to the south by the old alignment of the A625.

I’ll be tracking my progress using a Mapyx Quo project, which allows me to generate this graphic to show where I’ve been. If you’re interested, I wrote an article about How to Generate a GPX File of OS Grid Squares.

My starting position.

Around the edge of my boundary area, I had to make a decision about whether each grid square was in, or out. Along the north edge I chose to exclude any grid square with an A-road in, the logic being that I can see Woodhead Pass from my house, so I don’t need to spend any more time looking at it… On the east, west and south sides of my boundary area, I have been less picky and I’ve included most of the squares that touch the boundary, as long as they are not filled up with residential buildings.

I’ve pre-filled my map with routes I know I’ve done. I’ve not added every single route I’ve ever done, because I didn’t always track them very accurately, and there are some routes I have intentionally not put on, because I want to walk that area again as part of this challenge. It’s really clear where I have gaps in my coverage of the area, and I already have lots of ideas for walks in new areas.

My challenge doesn’t have a time limit, but I will keep track of it. I’ll post updates in the Peak Challenge category on this website, hopefully every couple of months. If I really enjoy a route, I’ll try to write it up, in case it inspires other people.

If you’ve not come across Alastair Humphreys before, I recommend taking a look at his blog, because there are lots of interesting articles on there in addition to the one that inspired me.

Have you ever set yourself a challenge like this? Did it succeed? Post a comment below, or send me an email, as I’m always interested in finding new ways to pick areas to explore.

Categories Peak Challenge