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Edale History

Edale has a history that reaches back into prehistory and there is little doubt that mankind has made the valley his home for thousands of years. This small attractive village, whose name originally identified the valley of the River Noe, is surrounded by moorland and is overlooked by an Iron Age fort located on Mam Tor.

 

Edale Peak District

The modern day spelling of Edale was first seen in 1732; previously there were a few variations, Aidele (1086), Heydale (1251), Eydale (1275), Eydal (1285) and Edall (1550).

 

Visitors will notice that many of the areas local place names feature ‘booth’ as an ending, a term referring to a temporary dwelling or shelter used by farmers tending to sheep. Temporary shelters in Edale became more permanent over the years and developed into small hamlets each eventually gaining ‘Booth’ as part of the place name. Upper Booth (once Crowdenley Booth and Over Booth), Barber Booth (once Whitmorely Booth), Grindsbrook Booth, Ollerbrook Booth and Nether Booth (also known as Lady Booth and, formerly, Lower Booth) represent surrounding areas to the village.

 

Although a predominantly a sheep farming community there has been diversification at Edale. Along with much of the North of England, Edale acquired its own cotton mill in 1795. This was built by Nicholas Cresswell along with partners James Harrison, Robert Blackwell and Joseph Fletcher. The Mill and associated Mill cottages lie to the South of the Edale Road some three quarters of a mile to the East of Edale. As with many of the buildings in the village it was constructed using the locally quarried grit stone which defines the character of so many local properties.

 

Cresswell came from Crowden-le-Booth in Edale and was the son of a landowner and sheep farmer. At the early age of 24 he went to the American colonies where he became unpopular due to his political beliefs and eventually returned to Edale to live out the rest of his life as mill owner.

 

Many of his workers lived locally in the mill cottages which he supplied and are still standing to this day. Other workers were less fortunate and had to suffer a thousand foot trek from Castleton each day. Early census returns illustrate the importance of cotton and farming as a major employers for the area but there are also entries for milliners, a tailor, lace makers and blacksmiths to name but a few.

 

The Mill was still in use up until 1940 when it fell into disrepair. The job of restoration was picked up by the Landmark Trust in the 70’s they lovingly restored the majority of the building which now comprise of private apartments and holiday accommodation.

 

The local parish church at Edale was built in 1885 to a design by William Dawes of Manchester, who was also responsible for the extension to Manchester’s Victoria railway station. Although there had been a chapel previously on the site of the church, there was a time when the poor villagers would have had an arduous trip across the moors to Castleton just to bury their dead.

 

Today, Edale is probably best known by walkers as the start of the of the Pennine way. Its population just exceed 300 and lies at the heart of the Peak District National Park.

 

The official start of the Pennine Way, The Old Nags Headat Edale, reputedly dates back to the late 1500s and still offers sustenance to those brave enough to take the 270 mile walk.

 

Edale is also renowned for producing England’s first organised mountain rescue team, following an accident in 1928 on Laddow Rocks near Black Hill, which resulted in the amputation of the casualty's leg.

 

In fact the injury was due more to the rescue than the initial incident. It was quickly realised that groups of unorganised locals hurtling up hills with little or no direction was no way to ensure the safety of an injured individual on the hillside.

 

The real catalyst was when, in 1951, the UK’s first National Park was formed. The opening of moorlands by owners quickly meant that permission was gained for rescue teams to operate on private land and of course the unforgiving landscape was able to provide plenty of casualties to keep them occupied

 

Since then the Edale Mountain rescue team has gone from strength to strength. Whilst still relying on public donation, they have increased the number of vehicles and equipment over the years and are the pride of the Peak District. Often representatives will be seen in and around the Peak District on fundraising days and visitors contributions are always be very gratefully accepted.

 

Today, whilst sheep farming plays an important role in Edale, it is tourism which fills the pubs and shops of this beautiful Peak District Village. Visitors are advised to visit the Peak District National Park Visitor Centre which provides a wealth of information on the local area and surrounding parkland.