Saturday, 9 January 2016

Wolfscote Hill, Biggin Dale, Wolfscote Dale & Beresford Dale

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Route: Hartington, Reynard's Lane, Wolfscote Hill, Ferny Bottom, Biggin Dale, Peaseland Rocks, Wolfscote Dale, Drabber Tor, Beresford Dale, Pike Pool, Pennilow, Hartington

Date: 09/01/2016
From: Hartington

Parking: Hartington
Start Point: Hartington
Region: Peak District White Peak

Route length: 6.3 miles (10 km)
Time taken: 02:23
Average speed: 2.6 mph
Ascent: 478m
Descent: 483m

Summits: Wolfscote Hill (388m)

Other points of interest: Biggin Dale, Wolfscote Dale, Peaseland Rocks, Drabber Tor, Beresford Dale, Pike Pool

Route: Hartington, Reynard's Lane, Wolfscote Hill, Ferny Bottom, Biggin Dale, Peaseland Rocks, Wolfscote Dale, Drabber Tor, Beresford Dale, Pike Pool, Pennilow, Hartington

A slight change of scenery took me down to the White Peak of the Peak District, an area reminiscent of the Yorkshire Dales and one full on interesting features. One of its main attractions are the deep valleys, eroded away of millennia to form spectacular sights such as Dovedale and the Manifold Valley. I chose to visit one of the lesser visited of these, Wolfscote Dale, which is every bit as impressive and dramatic as Dovedale but much less busy. Thrown in the delightful Biggin Dale and Wolfscote Hill and you have a wonderful day out in the White Peak.

The walk begins in Hartington where there are a number of parking areas to choose from, all of them free. I chose to start the walk by climbing Wolfscote Hill, a fairly large dome that overlooks the village to the south. I reached the slopes of Wolfscote Hill along Raynards Lane before doing some mild trespassing through the broken walls that line the slopes. It's an easy climb right up to the trig pillar on the summit which in the care of the National Trust. The hill overlooks both Biggin Dale and Wolfscote Dale and has expansive views in all directions. The limestone outcrops that line to top are very reminiscent of the Yorkshire Dales.
Barns at Crossland Sides
Wolfscote Hill
Sheen Hill in the distance
The gentle slope of Wolfscote Hill
Trig pillar on the summit
Limestone protrusions on the top
Heading East I made my way down towards Biggin Dale, threading a path between the drystone walls and the sheep before the slope drops steeply into the valley. Once I had negotiated a dry stone wall to get on to the path, it became abundantly clear that the usual path was now taken up by a fairly swiftly flowing river, a result of the copious amounts of rainfall we've seen over the last few weeks. It's worth pointing out that the valley is usually dry. I was glad I wore my leather boots today, I'm not sure a fabric pair would have resisted the onslaught of water and mud. The Dale is a National Nature Reserve, leased to the National Trust and, at a little over one mile long, is a delightful stroll.
Biggin Dale
Biggin Dale
This is usually dry
Biggin Dale
A brief section of dry path
A brief section of very flooded path
Part way down is an all-too irresistible cave - an old mine to be precise consisting of a short trial level dug into the side of the dale. Shortly down the valley from the mine is the dramatic meeting point of Wolfscote Dale.
The old iron mine
Biggin Dale from the iron mine entrance
Wolfscote Dale appears ahead
As I mentioned earlier, Wolfscote Dale is similar in many ways to Dovedale with towering limestone cliffs and tors dominating the river below. Wolfscote Dale, though lacking some of the drama of Dovedale, is still impressive, especially when viewed from part way up the hillside at the meeting point with Biggin Dale. Here are a series of rocky outcrops, easily accessible by a short climb, that offer a superb panorama of both Wolfscote Dale and Biggin Dale and the perfect spot to stop for lunch.
Wolfscote Dale
Biggin Dale
The rocky protrusion at the meeting point of the two valleys
The same outcrop once again, looking much pointier
Wolfscote Dale
After returning back to the valley floor, it was time to head up Wolfscote Dale en-route back to Hartington. Again, its an easy stroll along well laid paths that follow the River Dove. The dramatic rocks give way to steep grassy slopes though there is one final rocky flourish at the top of the valley, finished off by another small cave. Legend has it that the last wolf that roamed the area was killed at the end of Wolfscote Dale which may account for its name.
Wolfscote Dale
Wolfscote Dale
Drabber Tor
The River Dove
The top of Wolfscote Dale
Footbridge over the River Dove
Peering out of the cave entrance
Crossing a flooded field led me to the lower end of Beresford Dale, the last of the valleys on this walk but no less interesting. Smaller and more modest that Wolfscote and Biggin Dale, the wooded flanks of Beresford Dale are a change to the towering limestone canyons of the River Dove. Half way along Beresford Dale is Pike Pool, so called because of the grey spire (or pike) of limestone that rises abruptly out of the water, likely to have been a natural arch at one point in its life.
Narrowdale Hill
The River Dove
Entrance to Beresford House. A little creepy
Pike Pool in Beresford Dale
Beresford Dale
The valley opens out to the north with the path returning to Hartington around the knoll of Pennilow and across a number of boggy fields which I'm sure are a joy in the summer, less so today. This concluded a very satisfying walk, made all the better by the fact it didn't rain and the scenery was superb. Definitely one to explore again.
Path back to Hartington

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