Derwent Moor and those funny shaped stones!

While walking on Derwent Moor with my Peak walking buddy, Chris, the question was asked, “How does Derwent Moor compare with Bleaklow and other places I’ve walked?”

“A very difficult question to answer” I replied. “They’re all different; they all have their own beauty.”

I’ve enjoyed walking in many places in the White and Dark Peaks, Snowdonia, The Highlands of Scotland, The Lake District, the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales to name a few places. Each has its own beauty, its own tale to tell along with its own aura.

But I can honestly say, everywhere I’ve walked. I’ve enjoyed being there, whatever the weather.

Now some of you may be aware, though most of my posts have been based around the Peak District, I actually come from a lot further south, the West Midlands, and yes, I have walked my local low land paths. In fact, I’ve probably walked them to death whilst I was a Scout Leader, teaching basic outdoor skills, Map and Compass to Scouts and other outdoor aspects.

As a result, I tend not to walk those paths at the moment. Perhaps there’s time for a change, I don’t know…..

Anyway, I digress……

One of the most awe inspiring aspects of the Peak District is those funny shaped stones often seen on the open moorlands. What I mean by those funny shaped stones, really are weathered Gritstone, where over time, the wind and rain has taken its toll on the rocks leaving some fantastically shaped stones.

Many of these stones over time, have been given what I would consider, pet names. If you’ve read ‘Bleaklow, The B29 Superfortress and I got Bleaklowed!’ I mentioned the ‘Kissing Stones’, or using the correct name, the Wain Stones, being one of many classic examples.

Wain Stones, otherwise known as Kissing Stones
While out on Bleaklow the last time, to visit the Defiant crash site, Chris suggested we tried one of his old favourites, Derwent Edge. Well, I just couldn’t say no, I hadn’t been there before, so it was another golden opportunity to spend more time in the Peak District, after spending a lot of time in Snowdonia.

Anyway, amid my busy Sunday’s, I happily managed to squeeze a day in, hoping that the weather would be reasonable, even though initially the forecast was suggesting windy with blustery showers.

Well, what could we expect, after all, rain and wind does seem to be the norm for this summer. But then, when out in the open and exposed areas like Bleaklow, which I’m sure didn’t get its name without good reason, along with other open and exposed areas, Derwent Moor being one, you’ve got to expect things to be a bit wetter and windier at times like this.

So, I prepared my kit for the day, based on the worst the weather is likely to throw at us, wet and windy, set off for the start point, Heatherdene Car Park by the Ladybower Reservoir.

I had arrived, not long after Chris had started to get booted and suited, to a midge infested car park. But then what do you expect, a nice sunny start in a tree covered are close to water, a ripe environment for those pesky little creatures.

I paid my car park dues, then got booted and suited myself.
We walked down to the road, the A6013, turned right and headed for the A57 Snake Pass, turning right again at the traffic lights (hey, we’re walking not driving), walking towards the Ladybower Inn to pick up the footpath to Ladybower Wood.

We followed the hardened path uphill through Ladybower Wood towards Cutthroat Bridge.

Not long after leaving Ladybower Wood, a stream, well, almost a raging torrent crossed our path.

The path was awash with flood water!

Just the other side of the fence alongside the path, the grass was waterlogged

Just a little further upstream, the gras was well and truly waterlogged!

You could see looking at the grass, that the water didn’t usually flow with such ferocity, but with the rain we had over the last few days, what could we expect.

Now I mentioned earlier about Bleaklow most likely getting its name due to the nature of the terrain like many places that get their name either through an event in history or something about the environment it’s in. Well, Cutthroat Bridge (its proper name is Highshaw Clough pronounced eashaw clough) got its name through an event some four hundred years ago.

Just as places with the word Gallows or Gibbet in, often signified places where one or more hangings would have taken place.

Cutthrosat Bridge, teh scene of a headless body, murdered some four hundred years ago.

The story goes, took its gruesome name when Robert Ridge stumbled across a man, still alive, with a wound to his throat... Robert Ridge, along with others, carried this wounded man to a house half a mile away, then to Bamford Hall, where two days later, he sadly died.

The wounded man had been lying in a ditch not far from where the bridge was later built. Local people remembering the murder, nick named the bridge Cutthroat Bridge.

The current bridge was built a lot later, in 1821, where another murdered victim was found, minus his head!

Anyway, after that brief history lesson, I hope I haven’t scared you off and that you will continue to enjoy reading the rest of my blog.

After the weather we’ve been enjoying (tongue in cheek) even the streams that normally flow down to Cutthroat Bridge were raging torrents!

Highshaw Clough, was a ragging torrent!

After stopping for a brief photo shoot session, we continued our journey towards Whinstone Lee Tor, where we could overlook the Derwent Reservoir and back down Highshaw Clough.

Leading up Highshaw Clough to Whinstone Lee Tor

Win Hill from Whinstone Lee Tor

Whinstone Lee Tor and Derwent Reservoir
It was a little windy there, my little Kestrel anemometer registering a max wind speed of 37.9mph with a wind shill of 5.6ºC!

Derwent Reservoir

 This provided another good photo opportunity, looking down on to Derwent Reservoir, before moving on northwards to Derwent Moor.
Wind gusting to 37.6 mph
This was a nice little climb, following a clearly defined path, past Hurkling Stones, heading for Wheel Stones.

Wheel Stones provided another photo opportunity and also a good weather break. This was ideal, because it was lunch time and we would need the stones to shelter later on!

While we had lunch, there was a Duke of Edinburgh (DoE) leader, monitoring some young people doing their Duke of Edinburgh scheme expedition.
Lunch over, we put our rucksacks back on our backs and headed of towards White Tor.

While the temp dropped to 5.6ºC

Soon after we set off for White Tor, the clouds started to look a little unfriendly, rain bearing, the wind was getting the chill that precedes a downpour.

Chris suggested we hurry to White Tor, but I wasn’t convinced we would make it and suggested we back track smartish and use the Wheel Stones to shelter while we got out our waterproofs.

That turned out to be a wise move; the rocks provided their second purpose (you may remember I mentioned that we’d need those stones later on).
Wheel Stones, provided shelter for lunch and also to get in to our waterproofs.

Close up of one of the Wheel Stones

Waterproofs on, we started out again for White Tor, another outcrop of weathered gritstone, then on to the Salt Cellar, a well-known piece of weathered gritstone, looking as you’d guess, like a giant salt cellar.

The Salt Cellar
From there, we followed the trail to Dovestone Tor, then stopping to take some photographs of the Cakes of Bread. From a distance, the Cakes of Bread loooked just like oversized scones!

Just like the Salt Cellar, this group of three weathered gritsone formations, from a distance, look like giant scones!
Cakes of Breead, looking like oversized scones!

The weather was still dishing out the wind and showers. Remember, it’s high and exposed, so the wind will make the rain hit that bit harder.

Looking back to the Salt Cellar and Wheel Stones

Our next stop was Back Tor and the Trig Point. From there, wind and rain permitting, we could grab some grand views across the moor and surrounding countryside.

Our next stop was Back Tor and the Trig Point,

I did say weather permitting, not that it relented much, though I did manage to get a couple of photos of the bleak moorland.
The bleak moorland

Back Tor Trig Point

A quick ten minute stop to grab a drink before moving on, we met up with a couple of hikers, one of whom had come from New Zealand, where they did a quick route check and exchange the usual friendly chat between walkers.

Apart from the wonderful scenery this country has, especially in the National Parks, another thing I always enjoy is the friendly exchanges of conversation with total strangers, many you’ll never see again, ever!

Then just as you all depart your separate ways, wish each a safe journey.

While they stopped for their lunch break, we carried on to Lost Lad, another place where the name has derived from a historical event.

The story is; a young boy was tending the sheep on the moor during one particularly hard winter. He had gone out with his sheep dog to round the sheep up and bring them down the hill to the village of Derwent, now submerged under Derwent Reservoir.

It is said the cairn on Lost Lad was built by subsequent shepherds

The young boy had not noticed the change in the weather, so while rounding the sheep up, he became entrapped in thick fog. So he decided to take shelter, hoping the weather would improve. But sadly, the weather continued to deteriorate, the village of Derwent became cut off by snow.

The young boy had become benighted, not to be seen alive again. It is believed his trusty sheep dog stayed by his side, also suffering the same fate.

Once the weather had lifted, the villagers searched for this young shepherd boy and his dog. Sadly, when they found this shepherd boy and his dog, it was too late; the weather had taken his soul.

It is said the cairn was built by subsequent shepherds, picking up a small rock and placing it on the cairn in memory of this young shepherd boy and his dog, hence the name, “Lost Lad”.

I really hope I haven’t scared you off from reading the rest of my blog?

Before I carry on this wonderful country of ours, is stooped with many stories and legends, some happy, some sad, along with lots of history.

I can assure you, no more sad stories today.

The original intention was to complete a circular route, where from Lost Lad, we would descend down to Derwent Reservoir, follow the reservoir along back to Ladybower Reservoir and our cars.

However, we decided that as we were enjoying the scenery so much up on the moor, we would back track the route we had just walked.

Bleak and beautiful

One of many rocky outcrops around the Dark Peak

So back towards Back Tor and the Trig point, past the Cakes of Bread, Dovestone Tor, The Salt Cellar, White Tor and Wheel Stones.

Now for some unknown reason, though I’m tempted to think it may have been raining at the time, we overlooked the Salt Cellar. So this backtrack allowed me to grab a photograph or two before continuing our way back.

But before that, the rain made an untimely appearance. So we sheltered behind a dry stone wall for a few minutes waiting for the rain to abate, so I could take some more photographs.

Those funny shaped stones again....

A close up of the right hand leg from the above photo

From Wheel Stones, we continued back towards Whinstone Lee Tor. It was at Whinstone Lee Tor we became curious about a path leading in the direction of Ladybower Reservoir.
Peat errosion, even on Derwent Moor

A quick check and this path seemed to go in the right direction, but something just didn’t seem quite right. Unperturbed, we followed this path, though things didn’t quite seem to add up, even though it was going in the general direction that we wanted to go.

Our path back to Heatherdene Car Park

After a while and quite a steep descent, we joined up with the path that was the original intended return route, bringing us back to the rear of the Ladybower Inn, where we walked back along the A57, turning left at the traffic lights to pick up the A6013 back to Heatherdene Car Park.

Our route for the day along Derwent Moor

It was a good day out, some fantastic scenery and some really good British weather and not forgetting some fantastic funny shaped stones, in the form of weathered gritstone.

Please, if you undertake this walk, which is relatively easy going, make sure you are prepared for what the weather can throw at you. It is high and exposed, so can get cold and the rain, or even snow, and could see you get wet and cold.

Oh, not forgetting the risk of low cloud and poor visibility!

Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,

Peak Rambler

Beinn Bhreac and Trig Point on Carn an Fhreiceadain

After a 7½ drive up the M6, A74 M74 M73 A80 M80 M9 A9, we arrived in Kingussie (pronounced kin-oo- see), a very pretty village located in the Highlands, just off the A9, a major road through to Inverness.Luckily, we have a family friend who lives in Kingussie, only short drive from the A9, located in the Cairngorms National Park,, which makes an ideal base to visit the Cairngorms National Park and the Highlands.

As with most family holidays, I aim to get at least one hill walking day, keeping the rest of the holiday for the family.

Well, actually, my son, a keen kayaker, is now claiming his day, a white water activity day!

My son with the summit cxairn
on Cairn Gorm in 2008
But that’s another story.

So, my hill walking day, where do I go?
Last time I was here in 2008, my son and I climbed Cairn Gorm from the Base Station, following the Funicular railway to the Ptarmigan Complex, then on to the summit by passing the weather station, in pouring rain!

We cheated on the way down. We walked down to the Ptarmigan complex and from there, got on the Funicular heading back down to the Base Station.

It was an enjoyable ascent, and descent, my second Munro (Ben Nevis was my first) and my son’s first Munro.

Sadly, we had no view from the summit, otherthan the cairns and lots of cloud. Strangely enough, I had a very similar view from the summit of Ben Nevis!

Yeah, we cheated.
But hey, why not?
The Funicular was fun.
Still, right up until the night before the hill walk, I still had no idea, though I was toying with the idea of a local summit, Creag Bheag. But there were TWO Creag Bheag’s very close together and both in easy walking distance from where I was staying.

But the weather was looking promising and last time I did Cairn Gorm, it was wet and cloudy. This time, I had a chance of getting some good views. But, it could be cloudy!

Decisions, decisions!

So our host suggested a nice looking and challenging circular walk, to the trig point on Carn an Fhreiceadain via Beinn Bhreac.

I studied my map, looking at the ascent and descent routes. Depending on whether I go clockwise or anticlockwise, navigation looked relatively straightforward. The map suggested a form of maintained track one way and a river to handrail another.

So it was decided, to the trig point on Carn an Fhreiceadain and Beinn Bhreac, were going to be my hill walk.

So, Thursday 7th June, the weather was looking good, well, it couldn’t have been much better, especially with the weather further south being as wet and horrible as it was.

My rucksack packed, my host had made a very lovely cheese and lettuce sarnie, along with a flapjack, I set off from the house we were staying in, headed up Gynack Road, past the Kingussie Golf Course and Caravan Park (can you remember how to pronounce that? I bet you had to look back…..).

Cross this brdge from the Gynack Road to pick up the track leading through the golf course
The track going through Kingussie Golf Course

Almost the name for a pub!
Sadly, no pubs on this walk.....

I have to confess at this point, once you get past the golf course and Caravan Park, the track is very laborious. I was considering a small detour to Creag Bheag, especially as the it took me away from the laborious track.

So I did, turn off and head towards the golf course, following the signs for Creag Bheag.
Coming away from the track, this path, across the bridge, takes you up to the golf course.

Walk around the golf course, not just for respect of the golfers, but for your safety.
The path takes you through some woodland, around to a derrelicked cottage

Walking pas the derelicked cottage, takes you to a gate
After the gate, you walk through some more woodland
Following this route, took me to Loch Gynack, nothing special, just an ordinary small Loch in the Scottish Highlands. But it did provide a couple of lovely photos.

Loch Gynack through the gate

Loch Gynack

I just had to take this picture of Loch Gynack, before returning to the original route

This was totally unplanned, so my original route had been totally binned, well at this stage.

Just to point out, before I left, my host, who knows the area very well (and my wife, not that she would have had a clue where I was going), were aware of my intended route and possible diversions. So if anything did happen and I was late returning home, they would be able give the police and local MRT sufficient information as to where to find me.

Not that I had any intention of getting lost or having an accident.

I digress.

Now where was I, not lost, just distracted. Ah yes, Loch Gynack. I needed to re-plan my route, do I walk around the Loch or do I back track?

I’d estimated my time to be around six hours out, to go around would easily add an extra hour, because I’m terrible, I like to stop and take photographs.

So a quick look at the map and the various options, I decided to back track and pick up the track near to Pitmain Lodge.

Back on the track, alongside the Gynack Burn, I continued along my intended route when I decided based on the conversation the previous night, I was going to ascend Beinn Bhreac first then cross the ridge to the trig point on Carn an Fhreiceadain.

The track is clear, well maintained, not surprising really, because this area is managed for grouse breeding.

The track is clear and well maintained

It’s worth remembering, this area, like virtually most open spaces where we can freely walk, are not just lovely looming open countryside, but a working landscape and often managed for whatever purpose it is being used for, if that doesn’t sound ridiculous.

This open moorland is maintained for grouse breeding

Anyway, back to the track, continuing upwards across some very featureless landscape, lots of grouse with young were spotted. As I gained height, so the Cairngorm range became clearer to view, on a nice sunny day.

Now I was beginning to wonder, had I made the right decision?

I looked back at the Cairngorms, then up at the route ahead, thought back to that time four years ago and thought, yes, I had made the right decision. There was cloud in the far distance heading up from the south and the chances are, I could have ended up on a cloud covered Cairn Gorm summit again, but here, I was going to be below the cloud whatever.

Looking over to the Cairngorms

Cairn Gorm Summit; "I looked back at the Cairngorms"
"yes, I had made the right decision"

So, I continued my ascent, happy in the thought I hadn’t made the wrong decision, looking forward to the view from the top over to the Cairngorms and hopefully, down to Kingussie.

From the moment I left the golf course, I hadn’t seen a soul, not one person, it was peaceful.

As I was getting towards the 700 mtr height of Beinn Bhreac, I met my first two and only walkers for the day, as they were descending Bhreac.

As hill walkers do, we exchanged a few words about where each had been and intended to get to, bid each other a safe journey, then carried on to our intended destinations.

From there on, it was me and only me all the way to the summit of Beinn Bhreac, where I stopped to tag the cairn and take in the views, across towards the Cairngorms.

The Cairn on Beinn Bhreac Summit

Guess what, the summit of Cairn Gorm was cloud covered!

I just had time to stop for a couple of photos before moving on across the ridge to the trig point on Carn an Fhreiceadain.

As I said earlier, this is a relatively easy route to navigate, I could see from Beinn Bhreac the cairn on the summit of Carn an Fhreiceadain. A quick time check, bearing in mind I had taken a detour, which meant I was behind time and once I drop down from either summit, mobile phone signals were non-existent.

No problem, I would be back within the allotted time, so I carried on for Carn an Fhreiceadain.

Following the track, that was still well maintained, across what looked like very dry peat bog land, I headed for my next summit, enjoying the views and keeping an eye on the cloud moving from the Cairngorms towards me.

I wasn’t worried about being in the cloud, it was more a case of do I need to put my waterproof trousers on at the next summit, or do I chance it, knowing I didn’t really want to stop needlessly on my descent.

I took the chance, the waterproof trousers stayed in the top of my rucksack, still quick and easy to get out if I needed them.

I finally arrived at the summit of Carn an Fhreiceadain, tagged the trig point, and took in the views and a few photographs as well.

Tagged, the trig point on Carn an Fhreiceadian


The wind was gusting
up to 19.5 mph
and the temperature
was 6.7ºC

View to the north of the Trig Point

Time was pressing on, a quick check on the map to confirm my descent route, noting the cairn marking my track down, and off I headed.

the cairn marking my track down

The views were still pleasant and I started to notice the temperature change quite quickly. This would most likely be due to the fact I started to become shielded from the wind.

The track continued to be well maintained, all the way down, including the many tracks that spurred off from the main track.

A word of caution, check your desired route matches the route you are on. Some of points where the tracks spur off can almost appear to be the route you think you want, but they are not!

Looking down towards Pitmain Lodge

Also, keep in mind, this is quite a descent, you are likely to be fatigued, therefore not only liable to take a wrong turn, but also could stumble on some of the loose stones on the track.

As you do, it was at this point, I started to think, what if?

What if I was to need assistance, there will be on mobile signal at this point, I was well within a ravine, I had my whistle, my head torch, a couple of glow sticks (which will provide a good few hours of reasonable illumination), storm shelter should I become immobile and extra layers.

Would anyone hear my whistle call of six blasts a minute and if they did, would they realise what it was or just think who is that lout making that noise?

Thank you to those who responded on Twitter that night to my curiously raised question, your feedback was interesting and valuable, but raised an interesting concern.

Would you recognise six blasts of a whistle or would you think I wish that lout would shut up and loose that whistle?

Anyway, I’ve digressed again.

Continuing down the track, I had the pleasure of looking back up Allt Mor before crossing the first of three bridges.

Looking up Allt Mor, which feeds in to Gynack Burn

Continuing my descent along the track, I could soon see the small forest by Pitmain Lodge, which meant the pleasant part of my hill walk, was nearing its end, but that long trudge down the road back to Kingussie was still to be completed.

Three bridges to cross

The track leads to Pitmain Lodge

Following the track down, as I neared Pitmain Lodge, I had to cross the river, Allt Mor, and then pick up that laborious tarmacked road, though the golf course, back in to Kingussie.
Red Squirrell
One thing to do when walking back down this road, keep an eye out for red squirrels. There are lots of them around here.

It was a good day’s hill walk, the weather had been extremely kind and the views were spectacular. Oh, and I definitely had no regrets not going for Cairn Gorm. Possibly another good weather day I’ll ascend Cairn Gorm.

Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,

Peak Rambler