Sunday, 19 February 2017

Derwent Edge

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Route: Fairholmes, Derwent Dam, Hancock Wood, Abbey Tip Plantation, Greystones Moss, Green Sitches, Lost Lad, Back Tor, Cakes of Bread, Dovestone Tor, Derwent Edge, Salt Cellar, White Tor, Wheel Stones, Hurkling Stones, Whinstone Lee Tor, Ashopton, Ladybower, Ridges Coppice, Fairholmes

Date: 19/02/2017
From: Fairholmes

Parking: Fairholmes
Start Point: Fairholmes
Region: Peak District Dark Peak

Route length: 10.5 miles (16.9 km)
Time taken: 04:10
Average speed: 2.5 mph
Ascent: 656m
Descent: 674m

Summits: Back Tor (538m)

Other points of interest: Cakes of Bread, Dovestone Tor, Derwent Edge, Salt Cellar, Wheel Stones

Derwent Edge is one of the numerous gritstone edges that form a near-unbroken line along the northeast of the Peak District. As with all the edges, it's a popular spot for walkers, climbers and mountain bikers who all make the most of the unique countryside of the Dark Peak.

We parked in the Fairholmes car park after driving along the length of Ladybower Reservoir's northern arm, along the route we'd be using later in the day. After getting ready, we walked the short distance to the foot of the iconic Derwent Dam, which holds back the Derwent Reservoir.
The Derwent Dam and its newly refurbished sign
The spillway in front of the dam
One of the two towers
The Derwent Dam is a huge, solid masonry structure, built in the early 1900s to create the reservoir that supplies water to Sheffield and the East Midlands. It struck a resemblance to the Mohne Dam in Germany, so much so that 617 Squadron (the Dambusters) practised low-level flight over the Derwent Reservoir. In the dead of night, the pilots were expected to fly just 20m above the water, aided by a pair of strategically placed spotlights underside the aircraft.
The moment the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster crosses the Derwent Dam in 2016 (Wikipedia)
We climbed up alongside the dam to follow the access road along the reservoir's edge. It's easy stroll of a couple of miles which leads to Abbey Tip Plantation, close to the Howden Dam. Unlike the Derwent Dam, the Howden Dam was overflowing when we visited - it is designed in such a way to allow water to spill over and flow down the dam face.
The Derwent Dam
The Derwent Reservoir
Gores Heights
Howden Reservoir
The Howden Dam
A stony track leads up the moor, crossing the head of a stream at Greystones Moss before a final, fairly steep pull up onto Lost Lad., a bare, conical hill prior to the main height of Derwent Edge. Lost Lad actually refers to the cairn that marks the summit - reference to the legend about a local shepherd boy.
The path at Abbey Tip Plantation
Lost Land in the distancc
Lost Lad
Looking back to Green Sitches
Lost Lad
 According to the legend, the boy became lost on the moors in a blizzard and died. His body was found the following spring by a passing shepherd and nearby were the words "Lost Lad" written on a rock. An accompanying toposcope describes the 360-degree view - though much our ours was shrouded by cloud.
The Lost Lad toposcope
Back Tor - the starting point of our traverse of Derwent Edge - is a short distance south-east and the clouds parted long enough for us to get a good view of it. A trig pillar marks the highest point.
Back Tor
One of the many wonderful shapes at Back Tor
The trig pillar
Back Tor
Boundary stone at Bradfield Gate Head
Derwent Edge is notable for the numerous gritstone tors that are evenly spread along its length, each given a name based on their unusual shapes. From north to south the following can be found; Cakes of Bread, resembling a pile of bread cakes (or bread rolls), the Salt Cellar, looking similar to like a salt grinder and the Wheel Stones (otherwise known as the Coach and Horses) which, when viewed with a little imagination, looks like a stagecoach and horses.

The real highlight of the edge is Dovestone Tor, the most significant of all the outcrops on the ridge, located around half way.
Cakes of Bread
The path atop Drwent Edge
Derwent Edge
Dovestone Tor
Dovestone Tor
Dovestone Tor
Derwent Edge
The Salt Cellar
Looking back to Dovestone Tor
The Salt Cellar
The Salt Cellar and Dovestone Tor
Dovestone Tor
Approaching Wheel Stones
The Wheel Stones of Coach and Horses
The business end of Wheel Stones
Wheel Stones
Hurkling Stones (and its commanding view of Ladybower) is the final landmark before we descended down to the A57, crossing the reservoir along the impressive arched road bridge. Ahead is a two-mile tramp along the shores of Ladybower, using the permissive footpath that leads back to Fairholmes.
Hurkling Stones
Ladybower from Hurkling Stones
Win Hill hides in the haze
Crook Hill
Ladybower Reservoir
The A57

The permissive path along the shore of Ladybower
Seat with a view
Despite the cloud and the wind, this was a very enjoyable walk. Derwent Edge, though popular, still presents an opportunity to escape the crowds gathered on Stanage Edge or Kinder Scout and is no less interesting. The magnificent views and interesting rock tors make this one of the best walks in the Ladybower area.