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


  1. Great write up Mike, fantastic day out, until next time;-)

    Peak Lad.

    1. Thanks Chris, and thank you for being a great walking companion.

    2. Black hill next then:-) could sneak a crash site in as well, take care.

      Peak Lad.

  2. Some great photos of one of my favourite areas of the country. Bleaklow has a number of significant crash sites as well, see the link below!

    1. Thank you.

      I'll read you blog a little later.

      The link for the crsh sites, I've got in my favourites and was one of a few I used to locate the B29, Blenheim and Defiant wrecks visited recently.

      If you've not seen those blogs, the links are below for you to have a read.

      Thank you again.

  3. Looks a good walk. Might have to do it some time.....

  4. It was a superb walk with fantastic views. I can thourouhly recommend it.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and happy rambling.

  5. One of my fave walks this mate. Nice one.

    Didn't know that regarding the history of Cutthroat Bridge! Very interesting. You wanna incorporate more of that in ya posts :)

    Can't beat a bit of local knowledge. I always wondered where the bridge got it's name too.

  6. Thank you Terry.

    It was a really good walk and yes, as I come across these bits of history, I will endevour to incorporate the history in future blogs.

  7. I think a bit of bad weather only adds to the dramatic scenery - I love the bleak parts of the peak! I haven't walked this area for a while, it's lovely there though!

    In response to your comments on my Cressbrook Dale post - we did that walk on Saturday, the weather was worse on Sunday! I hope to read about your Kinder area walk here soon, that's another place I haven't visited for a long time!
    I love Tideswell Dale too and I know about the water-cum-jolly dale flooding issue, we've seen it a few times and had to take an alternative route there a few weeks ago!

    1. Hi Louise, tahnk you for your comment.

      Yes, I quite agree that so called bad weather can add to the dramatic scenery.

      Especially in black and white photography.

      The latest blog, Mill Hill and the Liberator is now live, so please drop in and have a read when you can.