Stanage may well be the country's favourite crag, and with good reason. Its rough gritstone outcrops are famous the world over and its sheer scale is truly impressive.
Continuing for three miles, what it lacks in height it certainly makes up for in breadth. Stanage boasts well over 1000 routes and almost 500 boulder problems.
It's no surprise that on a summer's afternoon the crag gets a little busy. The queues and noise around the accurately named Popular End mean that its fantastic position and the views across the Hope Valley can fade into the background.
But with a slightly unconventional approach, you can have a very different experience. Of the seven main parking areas, five are essentially on the same stretch of road and one only has space for a few cars. The last approach, from Redmires Reservoirs, is something special.
The dead-end road, known as the Long Causeway, which leads from the leafy neighbourhood of Fulwood to the reservoirs is better known to walkers and bird watchers than climbers. After all, why walk further than necessary? And why be closer to the urban sprawl than the countryside?
For starters, it's the only approach to Stanage on which the crag is invisible until you are literally on top of it, with the Peak District spread out in front of you.
After parking up it's hard not to notice the amazing variety of birds which congregate around the water, and the very lucky will even see hares. As you climb up onto the highest point on the moor, you will come across the historical oddity of Stanage Pole (438m). Here a log has stood for almost 500 years. At this point the medieval packhorse route you're using becomes more obvious and the Hope Valley starts to show itself off.
The section of Stanage you arrive at is just far enough away from any of the other car parks to not attract a crowd. The fantastic routes of the Count's Area and Secret Stanage are given almost 100 stars between them in the BMC guidebook and you will never see a queue. From short micro-routes best done above a bouldering mat, to classic trad routes on big grit buttresses, there really is something for everyone. And when you've run out of skin or sunlight, there's even a choice of pubs less than two miles away.
So next time you're thinking of heading to Stanage on a Sunday, take a trip up to Redmires. Just try not to look too smug about it.
Parking may be free at Redmires, but it's still best to do your bit to help the National Park Authority (who own and manage Stanage) look after this most amazing of venues. Buying a Stanage Sticker contributes directly to keeping it that way, as well as giving you 12 months free parking at Stanage car parks, plus a discount at North Lees Campsite.