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Hill Explorer - UK Hiking Routes

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  • Mark Barrett
  • October 27, 2015 09:04:49 PM
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Walking, Hiking, and Scrambling route descriptions and reports, mainly focusing on Snowdonia and the Peak District, eg. the Snowdon Horseshoe, Tryfan, the Bochlwyd Horseshoe, and Kinder Scout. GPX files provided for all routes.

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The Great Ridge and Kinder Scout North Edge

Win Hill and the Great Ridge The first section of this walk, as far as Kinder Scout, is identical to the Edale Skyline route from Yorkshire Bridge. After crossing the River Derwent, head steeply up the notorious Parkin Clough. Follow this all the to Win Hill’s summit when you can stop and admire the incredible...

kinder scout north edge

Win Hill and the Great Ridge

The first section of this walk, as far as Kinder Scout, is identical to the Edale Skyline route from Yorkshire Bridge. After crossing the River Derwent, head steeply up the notorious Parkin Clough. Follow this all the to Win Hill’s summit when you can stop and admire the incredible views whilst also getting your breath back after the steep climb. Continue west off the rocky Win Hill summit (known as Win Hill Pike) and take the first path that appears on the left. This heads downhill towards Twitchill Farm, gradual at first and then very steeply to finish. Walk through the farm and holiday cottages, and carry on down the farm road to the end. The road curves sharply to the right at the bottom where a turning off on the left takes you under the railway bridge. Once through the bridge, continue along the road, over the River Noe, and to Edale Road.

Parkin Clough, Win Hill
Heading up Parkin Clough
Win Hill's summit
The summit of Win Hill
Twitchill Farm, Win Hill
Descending to Twitchill Farm

The path to Lose Hill begins directly on the opposite side of Edale Road. Follow this path for a short distance then take the first right turning. Continue following this track over a small railway bridge and then directly towards the summit of Lose Hill. The nearer to the summit you get, the steeper the path becomes. At this point, the two major ascents of the walk are already complete. On the summit of Lose Hill is a toposcope, and the views all around are quite fantastic. You may have noticed on an Ordnance Survey map that the hill is labelled ‘Lose Hill or Ward’s Piece’. This is due to the fact that local access activist G. H. B. Ward was given an area of Lose Hill by the Sheffield and District Federation of the Ramblers Association back in 1945. The area was named Ward’s Piece. Mr Ward subsequently presented this to the National Trust.

Path to Lose Hill
Following the path from Hope
Lose Hill
Ascending Lose Hill
Lose Hill toposcope
The toposcope on Lose Hill’s summit

Lose Hill sits at the eastern end of ‘The Great Ridge’. The next objective of the walk is to follow the crest of the ridge westwards towards Mam Tor. This is relatively easy compared to hikes up Win Hill and Lose Hill. The ridge first takes you over the rocky Back Tor which happens to make an excellent viewpoint for looking into Edale valley. From there, a crumbly track leads steeply down before the ridge starts to slowly rise again at Barker Bank. Between here and the ascent of Mam Tor, you’ll find a junction of footpaths known as Hollins Cross. This is the lowest point of the ridge. The paths that cross north and south are known as the ‘coffin road’. It was an old traditional route from Castleton to Edale which was used to transport coffins from Edale, over Hollins Cross, and down to Hope church. This occurred until a church was built in Edale (a quick bit of research tells me that this happened in 1633).

Edale
Edale from Back Tor
Barker Bank
Barker Bank from Back Tor
Mam Tor
Heading to Hollins Cross and Mam Tor

A steep but relatively short ascent up the remaining hill takes you to the summit of Mam Tor. The name Mam Tor means ‘mother hill’, named that way due to the collection of mini-hills beneath its east face. These mini-hills are a result of landslips; a result of unstable lower layers of shale. The landslips also give the hill its alternative name of ‘the shivering mountain’. The A625 road used to traverse the crumbling eastern side but the section of road was eventually closed in 1979 after a losing battle to maintain and repair it over the years. The layers of tarmac and gravel are up to 2 metres thick in places, demonstrating the numerous efforts to keep the road open.

Mam Tor
Looking back from Mam Tor
Mam Tor trig
Trig pillar on Mam Tor’s summit

Rushup Edge and Brown Knoll

From the summit of Mam Tor, descend the main path down to the road in the nick between Mam Tor and Rushup edge. There are a couple of ways up onto Rushup Edge now. Across the road and a few yards to the left, there’s a big easy path the gradually takes you up onto the ridge. I always prefer the other option though, which is the steeper path that starts a few yards down the road to the right. It gets you up on to the ridge quicker for a great viewpoint looking back at Mam Tor. The brief scramble up the loose path is worth it in my opinion. Continue along Rushup Edge, past its summit point – named Lord’s Seat – and take the first big turning on the right, which is the Chapel Gate track that leads back down towards Edale.

Mam Tor
Descending to Mam Nick
Rushup Edge
Walking along Rushup Edge

A short way down the Chapel Gate track, another path forks off to the left. Take this path and continue along it all the way to the Brown Knoll trig pillar. The path is now paved for most of the way, making the walk a lot quicker and easier than it used to be. Some would also say less fun. The paving slabs were a much needed addition though as there was a real problem with erosion across the moor. There’s been a lot of regrowth in recent years and things are looking much better – it’s just a shame that you end up with sore feet now as you stomp along the slabs.

Chapel Gate, Rushup Edge
The Chapel Gate path
Brown Knoll
The paved path to Brown Knoll
Brown Knoll
The Brown Knoll trig pillar

Kinder Scout West

Continue on from the Brown Knoll trig pillar and turn right when you arrive at a footpath junction. This path takes you down to the shoulder between Brown Knoll and Kinder Scout, where it meets the top of the well-known Jacobs Ladder track. Keep walking straight ahead and make your way up the slope towards the Kinder Scout Plateau, heading for the large, impressive looking gritstone formations up on Kinder Scouts edge. These formations are named Edale Rocks and will be the first landmark you’ll see once you’re up on the plateau. It’s a popular place to take a break and fuel up – there’s still a long way to go after this!

Heading to Edale Rocks
Heading to Edale Rocks
Edale Rocks
Edale Rocks

From Edale Rocks, follow the well trodden path (which also makes up part of the Pennine Way) north past the Kinder Low trig pillar. Once you arrive at the edge proper, continue following it north. The path takes you over the head of Red Brook before eventually arriving at the popular Kinder Downfall. The waterfall – which is the tallest in the Peak District at 30 metres – was formerly known as Kinder Scut, and it’s from this that the Kinder Scout plateau derives its name. The river that flows over it is the River Kinder. The river is only 3 miles long and ends up flowing into the Kinder Reservoir which can be seen down below.

Kinder Low trig pillar
Kinder Low trig point
Kinder Scout western edge
Heading north along the edge
Red Brook
The head of Red Brook
View to Kinder Reservoir
Looking towards Kinder Reservoir
Kinder Downfall
Kinder Downfall

From Kinder Downfall, the edge continues in a more westerly direction, past the area known as Sandy Heys, until the north-west corner of Kinder Scout is reached. The Pennine Way continues down to the dip that sits between William Clough and the River Ashop Valley before rising again to the summit of Mill Hill opposite. We don’t take this path, instead taking a sharp right and continuing along the Kinder Scout north edge.

Sandy Heys, Kinder Scout western edge
Looking back from Sandy Heys
Mill Hill
Looking towards Mill Hill

Kinder Scout North and Hope Cross

The north edge is less defined and rather more boggy than the stretch we’ve just walked on. It’s also a lot quieter and gives a feeling of remoteness that the south and west edges don’t offer. The initial section is simply labelled ‘The Edge’ on the Ordnance Survey map but is also known as ‘Black Ashop Edge’, and crosses Upper Red Brook and then Nether Red Brook before eventually arriving at the fantastic viewpoint of Fairbrook Naze. Down below is Fair Brook itself with it’s path running along to the left of it. From the corner of Fairbrook Naze, follow the edge south to the head of Fair Brook before continuing west again.

Kinder Scout north edge
Track to the north edge
The Edge (Black Ashop Edge)
Looking along Black Ashop Edge
Gritstone shaped like boxing gloves
The ‘boxing gloves’
The Edge (Black Ashop Edge)
Further along the edge
Fairbrook Naze
The view from Fairbrook Naze

The route now continues along Seal Edge before arriving at Seal Stones. The brook below is Blackden Brook and this needs to be navigated similarly to Fair Brook by heading south and around the clough’s head. The last stretch of edge is known as Blackden Edge and is less dramatic than both Seal Edge and Black Ashop Edge. Continue along here and eventually follow the main path around until its heading south. When a junction of footpaths at a large lump of gritstone is reached then turn left until another junction of footpaths is reached. From here, take the obvious descent path heading east down Crookstone Hill.

Seal Edge, Kinder Scout
Seal Edge
Blackden Brook, Kinder Scout
Blackden Brook
Kinder Scout, north-east
The north-eastern end of Kinder Scout
Crookstone Out Moor
Path across Crookstone Out Moor

This path will eventually take you the old Roman road which you’ll follow roughly south-east until you arrive at Hope Cross. Hope Cross is an ancient marker stone that marks the boundary of the villages of Hope and Peale. It’s topped with a capstone and thought to be around 270 years old. At Hope Cross, veer off to the left and follow the treeline for some distance, until directly north of Winhill Pike. At this point, a path heads north, descending through lush woodland, before eventually curving around to the east and emerging near Ladybower dam. Simply cross this and then turn right back to the car.

Hope Cross
Hope Cross
Winhill Woods treeline
Path following the treeline


Bleaklow and Westend Circuit

This route was designed not only as a way of exploring Bleaklow, but also for me to experience my first ever wild camp. It’s something I’ve thought about doing for some time and, back in June, I finally took the plunge and got myself a tent, inflatable mattress, and sleeping bag. I bought myself the...

Bleaklow North Edge

This route was designed not only as a way of exploring Bleaklow, but also for me to experience my first ever wild camp. It’s something I’ve thought about doing for some time and, back in June, I finally took the plunge and got myself a tent, inflatable mattress, and sleeping bag. I bought myself the most lightweight and compact options available on a tight budget which enabled me to fit them, along with food and water supplies, into my usual 25l rucksack. In the future, I’m likely going to want to be able to pack more and so I’m going to have to upgrade at some point to a bigger bag – maybe a 40 litre one.

Barrow Stones Wild Camp

I arrived at around 5.30pm and parked on the road at the end of the left-hand fork of Howden Reservoir (I believe that this road is not available to use at weekends) and set off along the path that runs alongside the River Westend. The path initially runs to the left of the river before eventually crossing to the right-hand side. Much of the slopes on the left have been deforested, leaving behind a mass of dead branches and stumps. I find this a little depressing as well as a bit of an eyesore. The path eventually gains height and veers away from the river before suddenly zig-zagging up the steep slope at the mouth of Grinah Grain. At this point, the sweat was already running off me due to the humidity, and possibly also because I’d not done a single bit of exercise for the previous few weeks. At roughly the highest point of the path, there’s a junction of paths. The main track continues ahead along a deep trench and eventually leads into Lower Small Clough, identifiable by the shooting cabins at its head. If you end up here then you’ve gone wrong! At the junction of paths, take a left along a much less defined track. If you see a pond to the left after a 100 yards then you know you’re on the right track. I continued along Ronksley Moor towards Round Hill in the distance, admiring the view of the Grinah Stones in the distance, slightly to the left. Word of warning: This stretch can get extremely saturated with surface water after rain. After the brief ascent of Round Hill, the path bends to the left and ascends up to the Barrow Stones which should now be clearly visible (unless of course, it’s a misty day!).

The River Westend
Following the River Westend
Westend Valley
Looking back down Westend Valley
Ronksley Moor
Turn left here
Ronksley Moor from Round Hill
Ronksley Moor from Round Hill

At the Barrow Stones, I headed out amongst the gritstone formations, looking for a suitable, discrete location to set up my tent away from the main paths. I found the perfect place and erected the tent. It’s an OEX Phoxx 1 and the tiniest tent you’ll ever see. There’s just enough room in it to lie down and it’s more like a coffin than a tent. That doesn’t particularly bother me though as I’m only looking to sleep in it and little else. After I’d put the tent up, I decided to have a stroll over to the edge to check out the view in the late evening sun. It was nice to be able to chill out and not worry about getting back to a car before darkness fell. As it turned out, I’d pitched the tent in slightly too discrete a location. Could I find it again? Could I bollocks! I spent a good half an hour wandering around the Barrow Stones area trying to find it again! It took me some time to fall asleep (I really need to get myself a simple camping pillow) but once I did I was out until my alarm woke me up at 6am. A quick swig of water and a biscuit bar later, I was ready to pack the tent up and continue along my route. The tent was fortunately extremely easy to take down and pack; the work of 10 minutes.

Barrow Stones
Ronksley Moor from Barrow Stones
Barrow Stones
Tent pitched!
Barrow Stones
Barrow Stones in the late evening sun

Near and Far Black Cloughs

From the Barrow Stones, I followed a track south-west as far as Grinah Stones (where, yet again, I failed to take a decent photo) before veering north-west and following the track around to Bleaklow Stones. It was here where the sun decided to come out, quite suddenly I thought. The transition from cloudy sky to blue sky seemed to happen in less than 10 minutes (as seen on the photos below). The next destination was Far Black Clough to the north-east. Instead of directly accessing it, I decided to follow the watershed route initially and then veer across to the clough a little further down, just before it starts to deepen. This was the first time I’d even been down this particular clough and the views were amazing, especially with all the heather in flower. I continued down to the very end and crossed at the bottom, where the three Black Cloughs merge into a single stream.

Bleaklow Stones
Bleaklow Stones
Bleaklow Stones
Bleaklow Stones – 10 minutes later!
Far Black Clough
Heading down Far Black Clough
Far Black Clough
Lower Far Black Clough
Far Black Clough
The bottom of the 3 Black Cloughs

The plan after this was to take the high level path back up alongside Near Black Clough but, unfortunately, I had a little issue with route finding. The route on the map at the foot of this post reflects the route I should have taken rather than the one I actually did take. I followed the obvious path for a short distance on the right-hand side of the stream before it steeply ascended up through the trees. The path then levelled out and, shortly after an apparently popular camping area (used by idiots judging from the trash left behind and burnt branches), the path seemed to just end. I couldn’t work out where I’d gone wrong as I was sure I’d have noticed other defined tracks if I’d have passed them. I backtracked a little and decided to cross the stream and instead, follow the clough along the bottom rather than above. In hindsight, I’m glad a chose this option as it meant seeing all the waterfalls on the way up. The atmosphere was lovely and very tranquil with all the greenery and the sound of rushing water. What passed for a path was a little iffy in places. I’ve never been a fan of edging along precarious heather ledges with big drops below – especially when the only thing you have to grab hold of are clumps of heather. It’s a matter of trust – I’d rather be 100 metres up on a rocky ledge than 10 metres up on a muddy heather ledge. In those lower sections, it was quite difficult to escape from so I persevered until higher up where the slopes were smaller and more manageable. Knowing that the waterfalls and lush greenery were at an end, I escaped up the right hand slope, bashing my way through the heather until I reached the well defined path at the top. I was almost tempted into following it back down so I could see where I went wrong, but instead continued along the path towards Bleaklows summit.

Near Black Clough
Waterfall on Near Black Clough
Near Black Clough
Another waterfall
Near Black Clough
…and another.
Near Black Clough
Higher up the clough
Near Black Clough
After escaping to the top path

Bleaklow North Edge

From here, a crossing of the Bleaklow moorland is necessary in order to obtain the far right corner of Bleaklows north edge. Navigation can be difficult but there’s a crafy way of making things much easier. Higher up on the Near Black Clough path, approximately at grid-ref SK 104 976, ATV tracks can clearly be seen on the right heading into the moorland. Follow these tracks west-north-west until a grough is crossed via a makeshift wooden bridge. Shortly after this, the tracks suddenly turn north and proceed on easy ground between two groughs. Continue north, following the tracks. The track briefly veers west across another bridge before continuing north past a line of grouse butts. At the point where the tracks suddenly curves to the right towards a big sandy vehicle track, continue north to the corner of Bleaklows north edge.

Bleaklow
Following the ATV tracks
Bleaklow
Crossing a makeshift bridge

I continued along the Bleaklow edge path past Dowstone Rocks and over the head of Shining Clough. The view from the edge is fantastic. The Woodhead and Torside reservoirs are down below in Longdendale. Across the valley lies the northern section of the Dark Peak including Dead Edge End, Westend Moss, Black Hill, and Bareholme Moss. After crossing Shining Clough, I encountered a chap sitting on the edge eating his lunch. “Have you come to see the vulture?”, he said to me. A vulture? In England? I wondered what he’d been smoking. Obviously I’d been a bit ignorant of the news in recent weeks and had no idea about the rare Bearded Vulture that had nested nearby. The chap soon put me right though when he saw the confusion on my face, and explained all about it. After that little education, I continued along the edge past Deer Knowl and towards Lawrence Edge where I actually saw it! The Bearded Vulture – circling high above me. It was an amazing sight. The thing was enormous! Far bigger than I’d imagined. I watched it awhile, unable to take my eyes of it. Admittedly, I did start to feel a little nervous that it seemed to be circling me in particular! Maybe I looked like I was about to drop in this blistering heat and relentless sunshine. It suddenly occurred to me that I should be taking a photograph of it but, sods law, that’s the moment it decided to glide across the valley towards Hey Moss. By the time I’d got my camera ready, it was too far away. I waited a short while in the hope it would return but no luck. I continued on my way, following the curve of the edge around into the head of Wildboar Clough. This marked the end of my edge walk and it was time to venture back into the moors, but not before I’d soaked my cap in the cool stream and stuck it back on my head. I was really starting to suffer in the heat and fatigue was setting in.

Bleaklow North Edge
Bleaklows north edge
Bleaklow North Edge
Passing Dowstone Rocks
Shining Clough
The head of Shining Clough
Bleaklow North Edge
Continuing along the edge
Bleaklow North Edge
Looking back

Bleaklow Head to Alport Castles

I followed the line of the clough south-east into the moor where it naturally transformed from clough to grough. At the point where it curved westwards, I crossed and took a fork that continued south, eventually curving to more of a south-south-east direction. I continued this way until eventually I met the main Pennine Way footpath which I turned left onto and followed easily all the way to Bleaklow Head. Not far to go thankfully… I was on my last 250ml of water. I headed back east towards Bleaklow Stones before dropping down onto The Ridge and following the visible track south-south-east down into the area above the head of River Westend and between the Ridge and Westend Moor. All I could think about at this point was getting back to the car and driving to the nearest shop for lots of cold drinks and maybe an ice cream!

Pennine Way, Bleaklow
Pennine Way to Bleaklow Head
Bleaklow Head
Bleaklow Head

The route continued south-east over the middle of Westend Moor. It can be a bog-fest after a lot of rain, but thankfully on this particular day it was largely dry. Easy walking was what I was looking for in this last stretch of the route as my knees and feet were no longer up to much. I took the obligatory photo of the trig point before continuing to the edge of Alport Valley and then on to Alport Castles. Once last photo of ‘The Tower’ basking in the late sun and then that was that. One final turn north-east, and one final descent back to the car at Howden Reservoir. In hindsight, a 20 mile trek in that blistering heat, carrying my camping gear from the night before, and armed with the minimum amount of fluids was perhaps a little over-ambitious. It was a great trek though and I’m definitely glad I did it (and survived to tell the tale).

The Ridge, Bleaklow
Heading down The Ridge
Westend Moor
Trig pillar on Westend Moor
Alport Castles
Alport Castles


Kinder Scout Walk : Ringing Roger to Grindslow Knoll

When the kids arrive, I usually try to find a route for them to do that involves plenty of rock interest. I decided that Ringing Roger on Kinder Scout was ideal. We could have done a bit more if I just had the older two, but I had Harry – my 5-year-old – with me...

When the kids arrive, I usually try to find a route for them to do that involves plenty of rock interest. I decided that Ringing Roger on Kinder Scout was ideal. We could have done a bit more if I just had the older two, but I had Harry – my 5-year-old – with me and his little legs will only take him so far. I’d already done Ringing Roger with him on a previous occasion where we descended via Golden Clough. This time, I tried to extend the route a bit so that he could get used to walking a bit further, and so I opted for a walk around the edge as far as Grindslow Knoll and then a simple descent down the hillside back to Edale.

Path on The Nab, leading to Ringing Roger
The initial path that leads to Ringing Roger

We arrived bright and early at 9.30 am and set off up the familiar path that zigzags up to Ringing Roger. There were a few early complaints from Harry as he hadn’t been up such a big hill for a long time, but those complaints were soon forgotten when we arrived at the base of the Ringing Roger ridge. The older two spent a bit of time exploring the harder sections whilst I supervised Harry with a few simpler sections. I managed to get him up one something a bit more difficult as he was insisting on following his older brothers. Having to shield him from the drop at the same time as assisting him up was a bit awkward but we managed, and he seemed pleased with himself when he arrived at the top of the gritstone formation.

Approaching the Ringing Roger ridge, Kinder Scout
Almost at the Ringing Roger ridge
Scrambling on Ringing Roger, Kinder Scout
Luke enjoying an initial scramble
Scrambling at Ringing Roger, Kinder Scout
Assisting Harry with a more difficult section
Ringing Roger ridge, Kinder Scout
Making our way up the ridge
Scrambling at Ringing Roger, Kinder Scout
More scrambling on the gritstone
Scrambling at Ringing Roger, Kinder Scout
Last section – almost there!

We stopped for a bite to eat on the plateau, and the older two practiced their parkour jumps between the scattered gritstone rocks. Once they were all finished and satisfied, we moved on and made our way around the edge path. It was fairly slow going as the kids insisted on stopping to play whenever we walked past a large bit of gritstone – which was often! Eventually, we arrived at the head of Grindsbrook where there seemed to be some kind of photoshoot going on.

Lunch at Ringing Roger, Kinder Scout
A spot of lunch for Harry
On the plateau atop Ringing Roger, Kinder Scout
On the plateau
Gritstone on Kinder Scout
Plenty of gritstone to play on
Southern edge, Kinder Scout
Sam and Luke enjoying a dramatic viewpoint
Southern edge, Kinder Scout
Making our way along Kinder Scouts south edge
Grindsbrook from Kinder Scout
Sam looking down on Grindsbrook
Southern edge, Kinder Scout
Between the Grindsbrook fork
Southern edge, Kinder Scout
Looking back at Kinder Scouts southern edge

After ascending the small hill at Grindslow Knoll, we made our way down the descent path towards Edale. Harry started complaining about his feet hurting around this point and he was finding it difficult keeping his balance on the steep slope. I helped him out for the last quarter of a mile by giving him a shoulder ride – he deserved it.

Southern edge, Kinder Scout
Harry posing for a photo
Gritstone, Kinder Scout
Sam manoeuvring over the gritstone
Grindsbrook, Kinder Scout
Another viewpoint over Grindsbrook
Grindslow Knoll, Kinder Scout
Heading to Grindslow Knoll
Grindslow Knoll, Kinder Scout
Descending towards Edale


Bleaklow Walk: River Westend and Bleaklow Stones

Last year, I decided to make my first walk of the year a long route around the Upper Derwent Reservoirs in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District. It was an enjoyable walk and so I thought I’d do the same thing again this year. The walk started in the small parking area by...

River Westend

Last year, I decided to make my first walk of the year a long route around the Upper Derwent Reservoirs in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District. It was an enjoyable walk and so I thought I’d do the same thing again this year. The walk started in the small parking area by the side of the lane that passes around the west side of Howden Reservoir. This section of road is closed to motor vehicles on weekends and bank holidays during the summer months, but that wasn’t a problem to me as I tend to do most of my walking midweek.

River Westend to Bleaklow

The route initially follows the path alongside River Westend on its left before eventually crossing via a bridge and continuing to follow the river on the opposite side. After a while, the path begins to ascend before zig-zagging up the hillside towards Ronksley Moor. I left the path just before this happened and continued following the course of the River westend on its right-hand side.

Following the River Westend
Following the River Westend
Track through woodlands by River Westend
Track through woodlands by River Westend
River Westend
A brief spell of strong sunshine

A faint track should become apparent if you look for it although its not shown on the Ordnance Survey Map. The track crossed Grinah Grain, a smaller unnamed brook, and finally Deep Grain before I arrived at an unnamed clough that I’d previously identified as a suitable route up to Bleaklow Stones. So far, the journey was a real treat. I’d never ventured this far up the Westend valley before and found it incredibly picturesque and tranquil. There wasn’t a person to be seen or a sound to be heard aside from the peaceful sound of rushing water in the river below.

Westend Valley
Westend Valley
Westend Valley
Not a soul to be seen!
Westend Valley
The tranquil Westend Valley
Westend Valley
I left the valley soon after this

I ventured up the unnamed clough. After a short distance, the clough forked and I took the larger left fork which steered me a little more towards Bleaklow Stones. Eventually, the stream forked again and at this point, I left the clough but continued following the line of the left fork from above. By this time, the mist had rolled in and visibility was very poor. As much as it may ruin my photos, I quite enjoy being out on the moors in those conditions. It creates an eerie yet peaceful atmosphere and makes you feel like you’re alone and a million miles away from civilisation.

A clough off River Westend
Following the clough towards Bleaklow
A clough off River Westend
…and again
A clough off River Westend
Following the cloughs line from above
A clough off River Westend
Visibility is very poor now!

Bleaklow Stones to Grinah Stones

I continued following the line of the stream (which was a depression rather than a stream at this point) from above, taking the right fork at the next split and making sure I didn’t cross at any point until I reached the plateau. It worked out well and once on the plateau, I was only a very short walk away from Bleaklow Stones to the north-west. After a brief break and grabbing a few photos of the stones – including my favourite, the anvil stone – I continued walking in what I thought was the direction of Grinah Stones.

Bleaklow
Making my way to Bleaklow Stones
Bleaklow Stones
Old carvings on the gritstone
Bleaklow Stones
Gritstone formations at Bleaklow Stones
Bleaklow Stones
The ‘anvil’ stone

This was a perfect example of how disorientating mist can be. After a short distance, I had a feeling that I’d gone wrong somewhere. I checked the GPS on my phone and discovered I was actually heading north rather than east. I backtracked to the stones and tried again. Again, after a short distance, my gut was telling me I’d gone wrong again. I rechecked the GPS again and discovered that this time I was actually heading back to the clough that I came here up. Third time lucky… the path felt a lot more familiar and I knew I was on the right track this time – although I did check my GPS a third time just to make sure!

It wasn’t long before I arrived at Grinah Stones – an area of exposed and weathered gritstone, much of which has tumbled down to the next level of moorland below. The views are normally fantastic from here, looking out over the sweeping moors of Ronksley Moor and Ridgewalk Moor below. Unfortunately, due to the mist, the views were non-existent.

Bleaklow
Making my way to the Grinah Stones
Bleaklow
…and again – they’re obscured by mist!
Grinah Stones
Grinah Stones
Grinah Stones
…and again
Grinah Stones
Gritstone at Grinah Stones

Ridgewalk Moor to Howden Reservoir

I dropped down to Ridgewalk Moor and started walking eastwards across the soggy terrain, crossing the top end of Grinah Grain along the way. Once across, I eventually met the path that heads north towards the Barrow Stones. This path had become extremely waterlogged and so became a good test of the waterproofness of my boots – a test passed with flying colours! I made my way north along this wet and boggy track until I arrived at the slope of Round Hill. From here, I took another very faint track heading north-east across Fair Banks. The track is definitely there but not easy to see at first. I completely missed it at first and was only able to spot it from above once I’d ascended a few metres up the slope of Round Hill.

Ridgewalk Moor
A saturated Ridgewalk Moor
Fair Banks
Heading across Fair Banks
Fair Banks
…and again – Horse Stone Naze in the distance
Fair Bank
Looking towards Outer Edge (I think!)

On the Ordnance Survey map, this track is shown descending the slope down to a sheep pen at the bottom, directly opposite the entrance to Coldwell Clough on the opposite side. In reality, the track vanishes at the top of the slope and so it was a case of simply choosing your own route down. The River Derwent was in full flow due to all the recent wet weather and so any potential stepping stones were submerged. I carefully found a way across the shallowest section using the stones closest to the surface and a walking pole for balance.

River Derwent
The descent to River Derwent
Coldwell Clough
Coldwell Clough is opposite
River Derwent
River Derwent
River Derwent
River Derwent again
River Derwent crossing
Me carefully crossing River Derwent

At this point, the mist had cleared and the sky was sunny and blue again. Unfortunately, with the low winter sun, the whole of the River Derwent valley was in shadow, ruining any photos that I attempted to take. From here, it was a simple walk back to Howden Reservoir, following the valley and the course of the River Derwent. The path initially heads eastwards beneath Horse Stone Naze before bending southwards and passing Broadhead Clough and Cranberry Clough on the left. Eventually, I arrived at the old packhorse bridge at Slippery Stones where I crossed and made my way back to the car – just in time for darkness to fall.

Heading back to Howden Reservoir
Heading back to Howden Reservoir


Carl Wark, Higger Tor, and Over Owler Tor

After seeing that the weather forecast was looking extremely good for the weekend, I decided to get my son, Harry, out for his first walk of the year. He’d been up Higger Tor in the Dark Peak a couple of times before, but both walks involved heading around to Burbage Rocks for the return leg...

After seeing that the weather forecast was looking extremely good for the weekend, I decided to get my son, Harry, out for his first walk of the year. He’d been up Higger Tor in the Dark Peak a couple of times before, but both walks involved heading around to Burbage Rocks for the return leg back to Longshaw. This time I thought I’d vary it by coming back via Over Owler Tor instead.

We parked in the Suprise View car park above Hathersage and crossed the busy road to Owler Tor opposite. I’ve driven past Owler Tor so many times, but never actually stopped to examine them. It was a great bit of early motivation for Harry as he enjoyed clambering over the gritstone. I informed him that there were plenty more climbing opportunities along the route, which had him excited. From Owler Tor, we walked down to Burbage Brook and then followed it north-east. A short while after crossing the wooden bridge, we took a sharp right into the woodland and followed the path for a hundred yards or so before crossing the A6187.

Playing on Owler Tor
Playing on Owler Tor
Heading down towards Burbage Brook
Heading down towards Burbage Brook
Following Burbage Brook
Following Burbage Brook
A brief foray into the woods
A brief foray into the woods

A short way along the main path, where it takes the first bend to the right, we took a footpath on the left that heads towards Carl Wark. On the way, Burbage Brook required crossing again and this time there was no handy wooden bridge in sight. It’s actually quite easy to do in the summer months when the water isn’t so high, but on this occasion, the usual crossing spot was a little too tricky for a 5-year-old with short legs and limited jumping ability. We followed the brook a little while on the very boggy ground until we found an easier place to cross. Once we’d crossed, we made our way back towards the track, crossing more saturated terrain on the way. Luckily, Harry was finding it an adventure rather than a chore.

Once back on the well-used track, it was easy walking up to Cark wark where Harry enjoyed a brief scramble up the gritstone blocks to the top. Carl wark is thought to be the site of an ancient hill fort, although nobody really knows the exact purpose. There’s a lack of any evidence of a settlement within so the site could have been used for other purposes such as a temporary refuge or a ceremonial ground. The fort, along with its rampart on the western side, is thought to date back to the Late Bronze Age, although there’s been much debate about this in the past.

Heading to Carl Wark
Heading to Carl Wark
The scrambly route up to Carl Wark
The scrambly route up
On top of Carl Wark
On top of Carl Wark
Viewing Higger Tor
Viewing Higger Tor
The Late Bronze Age rampart
The Late Bronze Age rampart

From Carl Wark, we headed north to Higger Tor – an easy stretch of walking with more scrambling opportunities for Harry on the way up. We found a nice flat piece of gritstone on the top to sit down on and eat lunch. Or at least Harry did… I foolishly forgot to bring anything for myself; I was too busy rushing about preparing his in the morning. It was very busy up on the plateau of Higger Tor – something I wasn’t really used to as I normally walk midweek. Being a beautiful sunny day though, I couldn’t grumble.

The track to Higger Tor
The track to Higger Tor
The steps leading to the top of Higger Tor
The steps leading to the top
Enjoying a little scramble on the gritstone
Enjoying a little scramble on the gritstone
Looking along the edge of Higger Tor
Looking along the edge of Higger Tor
Looking north towards Stanage Edge from Higger Tor
Looking north towards Stanage Edge
Heading to the west of Higger Tor's plateau
Heading to the west of Higger Tor’s plateau

Rather than use the main track, we decided to come down on the south side near its western corner. It made for a slightly more adventurous descent for him and kept it interesting. Once down, we rejoined the path and followed it south, around the large sheepfold, and over Winyards Nick. I presume that the name Winyards Nick relates to the notch between two gritstone outcrops rather than the outcrops themselves?

Descending Higger Tor
Descending Higger Tor
Walking across Hathersage Moor
Walking across Hathersage Moor
Splendid sky over Higger Tor
Splendid sky over Higger Tor
Passing Winyards Nick
Passing Winyards Nick
Hathersage Moor again
Crossing more moorland

Finally, we arrived at an extremely crowded Over Owler Tor – but that didn’t do anything to dampen Harry’s spirits as he doesn’t have the same aversion to crowds as I do! He had a great time climbing the various gritstone formations and wanted to do more but I had to be the spoilsport and say no – he’s not quite as good at climbing as he thinks he is and his balance isn’t great so I can’t let him onto the higher stuff just yet unless I’m satisfied I can sufficiently protect him.

Gritstone at Over Owler Tor
Harry posing at Over Owler Tor
Gritstone at Over Owler Tor
…and again
Gritstone at Over Owler Tor
Gritstone formations at Over Owler Tor
Gritstone at Over Owler Tor
Another pose from Harry
Gritstone at Over Owler Tor
…and again, having a great time!

Finally, as we made our way back to the car, we passed the distinctive formation of Mother Cap. Again, this was a little too tricky for him to get to the top of, but he had no difficulties getting to the halfway point. After one final play, we headed down the slope back to the Suprise View car park, passing a few old abandoned millstones on the way.

Heading away from Over Owler Tor
Heading away from Over Owler Tor
Mother Cap
This formation is called ‘Mother Cap’
Mother Cap
Another pose with Mother Cap behind
Abandoned millstones can be found in the area
Abandoned millstones can be found in the area
Descending back to the Surprise View car park
Descending back to the Surprise View car park


Alport Castles, Margery Hill, and Nether Hey

I designed this route as a way of exploring a couple of ascent (or descent) routes that I hadn’t used before. Also, I desperately needed to get out for a walk. I hadn’t been on enough this year, especially over the last few months. Rowlee Pasture and Alport Castles This route starts from the small...

Cranberry Clough

I designed this route as a way of exploring a couple of ascent (or descent) routes that I hadn’t used before. Also, I desperately needed to get out for a walk. I hadn’t been on enough this year, especially over the last few months.

Rowlee Pasture and Alport Castles

This route starts from the small car park between the A57 and Fairholmes. Normally it costs £3 for all-day parking but I was in luck as the machine was out of order. Arriving there early, I was greeted by a wintery scene of frosted hillsides and freezing mist. The path up to the tops conveniently starts at this car park and so I proceeded to ascend through the forested slope of Hagg Side until emerging out onto Open Hagg at the edge of Bridge-end Pasture. I followed the track north-west, keeping the treeline to my right until I arrived at a junction of four large paths.

A frosty morning at Ladybower Reservoir
A frosty morning at Ladybower Reservoir
Heading through the Hagg Side woods
Heading through the Hagg Side woods
Open Hagg
The track along Open Hagg
Kinder Scout from Open Hagg
Looking towards Kinder Scout

The right path heads past Lockerbrook Outdoor Centre and heads towards Upper Derwent Reservoir. The path straight ahead eventually winds down through Rowlee Farm and to the A57. Between these two paths is the hill that should be directly ascended via a much fainter track in order to obtain Rowlee Pasture. The stretch between here an Alport is usually a lovely stretch of walking as it overlooks Snake Pass and Kinder Scout before eventually bending more to the north above Alport Valley. Unfortunately, due to the mist, those views were not open to us as we plodded over the moors towards Alport Castles.

Heading towards Rowlee Pasture
Heading towards Rowlee Pasture
On Rowlee Pasture
On Rowlee Pasture
Paving slabs across Rowlee Pasture
Paving slabs across Rowlee Pasture
Paving slabs across Rowlee Pasture
…and again

At Alport Castles, the mist cleared a little – enough to actually take a few decent photos. Another walker had gone down to climb The Tower and so we watched him on his little adventure and attempted to take a good photo as he eventually succeeded and stood on the summit. From Alport Castles, we took a right turn and followed the track downhill alongside a line of grouse butts. The track ran between two cloughs – Fagney Clough and Ditch Clough – before bringing us to the forested area west of Howden Reservoir. The forest was looking quite stunning in its autumn colours, and golden leaves were gently raining down on us as we walked down the path towards the main reservoir path.

Approaching Alport Castles
Approaching Alport Castles
Looking into Alport Valley from Alport Castles
Looking into Alport Valley
Alport Tower and cliffs
Alport Tower and cliffs
Alport Tower
Alport Tower with walker on summit
Looking towards Ditch Clough
Looking towards Ditch Clough
Heading down towards Howden Reservoir
Heading towards Howden Reservoir
Walking through woodlands
Woodlands littered with autumn colours

Margery Hill

We continued north, crossing the old 17th-century packhorse bridge at Slippery Stones on the way to take us to the east side of the River Derwent. Soon we arrived at a junction of footpaths. We took the right branch into the short valley that eventually splits into Bull Clough and Cranberry Clough (the left branch continues to follow the River Derwent as far as Hoar Clough and then up onto the soggy plateau of Featherbed Moss). The Cut Gate bridleway route (an old packhorse route that has possibly been used for centuries) heads up the hill between the two cloughs and then crosses moorland towards Howden Edge. On a clear day, I imagine that the views around would have been good – but unfortunately, the mist had started to thicken and visibility was very poor. All we could see was the hundred or so yards of moorland ahead.

The old packhorse bridge at Slippery Stones
The old packhorse bridge at Slippery Stones
River Derwent
Looking north along River Derwent
The hill between Bull Clough and Cranberry Clough
The hill between the two cloughs
Poor visibility on the Cut Gate path
Poor visibility on the Cut Gate path

As we neared Howden Edge, I suddenly started to recognise the section of path that we walked, and also the cairns that had suddenly appeared out of the mist. I knew that we were approaching the point where the Derwent Watershed route crosses. It may have been a few years ago that I did the watershed, but I still have an almost photographic memory of it – not surprising due to the combination of pain and pleasure that it bestowed upon me.

Where Cut Gate crosses the Derwent watershed
Where Cut Gate crosses the Derwent watershed

The short trek from the path to Margery Hill was interesting, to say the least. With the mist showing no signs of clearing, and water pooled in every dip and hollow, navigation wasn’t easy. The frozen ground did make it much easier than it could have been but care still had to be taken on where to step as some sections of the ground were much more frozen than others. The landscape reminded me of some bogland from a fantasy film. It certainly had an other-worldly feel about it. After about half an hour of carefully navigating around groughs, pools, and bog, we eventually arrived at the Margery Hill trig pillar.

Heading towards the Margery Hill trig
Heading towards the Margery Hill trig
Boggy stile
Thank goodness for the frozen ground!
Margery Hill trig pillar
Margery Hill trig pillar
Gritstone formations on Margery Hill
Gritstone formations on Margery Hill

From here onwards, the going was easier. We followed the track around the head of Cranberry Clough and to Howden Edge. As we moved along the edge, the mist suddenly cleared around us and the sky became visible for the first time in what seemed like an age. We could clearly see the mist below us spilling over the top of Howden edge and I tried to capture the effect the best I could with my cheap camera.

The mist on Howden Edge
The mist on Howden Edge
The mist on Howden Edge
…and again
Howden Edge viewpoint
The mist clears, a view appears
Mist spilling over Howden Edge
The mist below, spilling over the edge

Howden Edge and Nether Hey

We continued over High Stones to the end of the edge and then continued south, gradually descending towards Nether Hey. Behind us on our left, the gritstone formations known as Wet Stones were visible sitting on the edge of Featherbed Moss. The path takes a sharp turn towards the west for a short distance before again heading south on a nice gradually descending track towards the mouth of Abbey Brook and Upper Derwent Reservoir. Cattle were grazing on the moorland of Nether Hey as we crossed. I normally have a fear of walking across cattle fields but these were far enough away for me not to feel too worried.

Heading towards Nether Hey
Heading towards Nether Hey
The path lower down on Nether Hey
Nearing the bottom of Nether Hey
Walking through woodland
Walking through woodland
The National Trust Nether Hey sign
The National Trust Nether Hey sign

Once at the reservoir, all that remained was a nice easy stroll back along the main reservoir path. We had timed it just right as the daylight hours were on the verge of running out. Luckily there was just enough left to get a good view of the overflowing dam as we crossed towards Fairholmes. More importantly, there was also just enough time to grab a coffee from the shop at Fairholmes before it closed!

Upper Derwent Reservoir
Upper Derwent Reservoir – looking peaceful
Overflow at the Upper Derwent Reservoir dam
Overflow at the dam


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