Derwent Edge and Ladybower late autumn walk

First, I must apologise for such a long gap between blogs.
This was not by choice, but as we all know, life dictates our journey sometimes. For me, a pulled back muscle stopped my intended walk in North Yorkshire at the end of October.
However, I had been out, but for a brief walk around Derwent and Howden Reservoirs, but with that being so close to my trip to stay with family in North Yorkshire, along with work, time was not going to allow me to write up anything.
Especially as I was to have been walking in North Yorkshire, giving me something more detailed to write about….
Anyway, this walk had been in the planning for a few weeks, with some friends of mine, initially Andy H, Andy F, Barney, Shaun and Neil.
Andy F has recently signed up with South Staffordshire Search and Rescue, along with his work shifts covering 24/7, made it a little awkward for us all to get together for a walk.
I managed to find when Andy F’s next free weekend was work wise, which was 30th November and 1st December, so the date was set, Sunday 1st December.
Where would we be walking?
Good question, so I suggested Derwent Edge, with reserves of Castleton’s Great Ridge, Eyam Moor and Froggatt Edge should we have snow making access to that part of the Dark Peak difficult.
You may be wondering what I mean about making access to that part of the Dark Peak, but those who know that area well, will be all too aware that the A57 Snake Pass is one of a few roads around there, that will be closed when it snows heavy or even freezes.
As the name suggests, it’s a twisty bit of road, snaking its way east to west across the bleak and open Dark Peak between the high plateaus of Kinder and Bleaklow, between Sheffield in the east and Glossop in the west.
Oh, and the snow can get very deep in places, as you can see with this photo taken back in April 2013! I had also been on Derwent Moor in the snow, earlier this year (2013). You can read about that day in Derwent Moor to Highshaw Clough from Cutthroat Bridge.

Snow near Highshaw Clough, Derwent Moor, Easter 2013
I'm almost six foot tall, so you can see how deep the snow can get....
Now I along with Shaun had walked Derwent Edge before, independently, Shaun earlier this year, while myself last year. Derwent Edge has an impressive array of weathered gritstone formations, notably the Salt Cellar, Cakes of Bread and others.
I had covered last year’s walk on Derwent Edge in my blog; Derwent Moor and those funny shaped stones! Which this route is was based on.
So the route was shared with all, the date was set, and all looked good. Then, it was suggested we make a weekend out of it!
Sadly, due to commitments, I had to decline, but the two Andy’s and Shaun stayed at Hartington Youth Hostel, and by all accounts, it seemed they were very well catered for.
Prior to that, a friend of Shaun’s, Stuart, joined us for the walk.
Sadly though, Andy F wasn't feeling too well and had to drop out while Barney had other commitments.
But, fear not, we carried on and the boys staying at the Youth Hostel befriended a couple more walkers, Cheryl and Steve, who also joined us for the walk.
The route, we would park at Heatherdene Car Park, walk to Ladybower Inn, take the track up to Cutthroat Bridge, head across Derwent Moor to Whinstone Lee Tor, Hurkling Stone, Wheel Stones, taking the track north to Back Tor and Lost Lad.
From there, descend to Ladybower Reservoir and back to the cars.
Taking in to account the shorter available daylight time, sunset was 15:50 hrs. I carefully planned the route, looking at the timings and advised all that we could be returning to the cars after sunset, were they comfortable with that and to ensure they had head torches.
Not that I expected anyone to have any qualms, and the response was an overwhelming no problem.
So all was set, we just wanted the weather to be reasonable at least and enjoy the day.
Well, for the others, apart from Neil, who drove up Sunday morning, they had a good weekend.
Me, jealous?
Well, slightly……
Next time chaps, I hope….
Sunday arrived I’d had a very good drive up and enjoyed a Peak District sunrise, virtually no cars on the roads! I arrived at Ladybower nice and early, time to have a second breakie, some toast and a hot coffee from my thermal mug.

Sunrise over Longcliffe

Looking over towards Winster, with the sunrise behind me.

Once I’d had my second breakie, I got suited and booted, then took a walk up, to find Neil already there, also suited and booted. Neil hadn’t much later than me arriving and parking up at Heatherdene car park.
We had a good chat, for this was the first time I’d met Neil, though we had communicated many times via Twitter.
Andy H, Shaun and Stuart arrived on time and all got suited and booted ready for the walk.
We set off, from the car park, turned right on to the road alongside Ladybower, turned right at the traffic lights and headed for the Ladybower Inn.

Thick plumes of smoke,
visible soon after we started walking the path from Ladybower Inn

Straight after the Ladybower Inn is a track to Cutthroat Bridge, so named because of its gruesome history, which I covered in Derwent Moor and those funny shaped stones!

Library image Cutthroat Bridge, June 2012

The following is taken from that blog; “Just as places with the word Gallows or Gibbet in, often signified places where one or more hangings would have taken place.
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!”
However, we had observed plumes of thick smoke coming from the moor and wondered what it might be!
As we progressed, it became apparent that the land owners were burning the old heather, nothing sinister.
The burning of the old heather is done to enable fresh growth of heather the following year, all part of the managed land program which all these wonderful and wild areas undergo.

"....burning of the old heather
is done to enable fresh growth of heather the following year,
all part of the managed land program...."

The smoke also prompted a route change, for the path to Cutthroat Bridge was smoke laden, so we turned off taking a track north wards towards Ladybower Tor.
From Ladybower Tor, we then would head for Whinstone Lee Tor and pick up our intended route.
Trudging across the heather, we reached Whinstone Lee Tor, where we stopped to take in the view to Ladybower, Win Hill, Kinder, Bleaklow, Castleton’s Great Ridge, Bamford Moor, Crow Chin and Stanage Edge.
We then carried on to Hurkling Stones, of which there are quite a few Hurkling Stones in the Peak District.

Ladybower Reservoir from Whinstone Lee Tor

Looking east from Whinstone Lee Tor

Approaching Hurkling Stones

From what I understand, they had some relevance to megalithic days, but I’ve not yet found exactly what. However, in an earlier blog, Froggatt Edge, Big Moor and some Stone Circles, I wrote the following;
Now, there is more than one Hurkling Stone in the Peak District. Along with the one on White Edge Moor, there is another on Derwent Moor, which I had come across last year, when I wrote Derwent Moor and those funny shaped stones! So a little research into what is a Hurkling Stone was called for.
This was proving to be difficult, however, I did stumble across the following; Hurkling or Herklin, means to crouch.
Well, these stones are lying on their sides…..
I have to admit, the ones on Derwent Moor do appear to be on their side too….
The views from this high point were fabulous, but then so were the previous views just as fabulous. We could see Win Hill, Castleton’s Great Ridge, Kinder and Bleaklow, very clearly.

Crow Chin, the ridge on the right on Stanage Edge, from Derwent Edge

Kinder Plateau, from Derwent Edge

Castleton's Great Ridge, from Derwent Edge

Here the path swings northwards as we head for Wheel Stones. From here through to Lost Lad you have superb views to the west across the Dark Peak, as well as the east across Strines Moor.

Library image Wheel Stones, June 2012

A quick stop at Wheel Stones, then continue northwards for White Tor, then the Salt Cellar.
I feel it fair to warn you, it’s easy to walk past the Salt Cellar, for its hidden, on your left on the north side of some boulders, about 650 metres from White Tor!
This weathered gritstone formation is worth visiting, before you continue your walk.

Salt Cellar, Derwent Edge

We continued northwards, reaching Dovestone Tor, where we met up with Steve and Cheryl, who also were at Hartington Youth Hostel.
Dovestone Tor provided a good wind break, while Back Tor and Lost Lad are very exposed, so we had a lunch stop there.
After a bite and chat, along with Steve and Cheryl, new additions to our group, we then headed off in a northerly direction for the trig point at Back Tor. Along this stretch you will see over to your right a group of weathered gritstones that look like giant scones!
These are called the Cakes of Bread.

Cakes of Bread, Derwent Edge

These are the last of the spectacular weathered gritstones you’ll see on this walk, but all in my mind, fascinating objects of nature.
Now the trig at Back Tor can be a little tricky to get to and get down from, so care needs to be exercised, for you don’t want to be a casualty for the local Mountain Rescue Teams……

Back Tor and Trig Point, Derwent Edge

Lost Lad Derwent Edge
"....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...."
We continued in a north-westerly direction, heading for Lost Lad, the cairn at this point is a memorial to a sad story, which I also wrote about in Derwent Moor and those funny shaped stones!
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.
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”.”
After a brief stop there, we then headed downhill, continuing on a north-westerly direction, heading towards Ladybower Reservoir.
As you follow this path down, the map tells you there’s a forked junction on the path. But as you will gather, the path very quickly becomes very indistinct, not the clearly defined paths we’ve had up to now!

Walking down from Lost Lad

Looking back up to Derwent Edge

Ladybower Reservoir

".... As you follow this path down, the map tells you
there’s a forked junction on the path.
But as you will gather, the path very quickly becomes very indistinct,
not the clearly defined paths we’ve had up to now! ...."

However, you can make out where the forked junction is, where we wanted the left fork to head for Ladybower.
Now we were heading in a south-westerly direction and starting to descend quite nicely, though at times, it did get steep, so care with your footing.
Eventually, we reached a sign where paths cross each other. For us, we needed to continue towards Ladybower.

".... we reached a sign where paths cross...."

Continuing our descent, we reached a point where we had to continue downhill, but go back on ourselves a short distance, before picking up a south-westerly descent, reaching the road that runs parallel to Ladybower Reservoir, just below the Derwent Dam.Continuing down the road in a southerly direction, you reach a forked junction, where a road heads north and we continue south.

Derwent Dam

" ....we reached a point where we had to continue downhill,
but go back on ourselves a short distance .... "

This is the point where you have to go back on yourself

for about 180 metres

then through this gate to start a short but steep descent!

Steve and Cheryl had parked at Fairholmes, near to the Derwent Reservoir Visitor Centre, so it was at this point we bid them farewell while we continued our route back to the cars at Heatherdene.

The steep descent down to the road, alongside Ladybower Reservoir

The road alongside Ladybower Reservoir is just the other side of the gate

The forked road junction, left to Ladybower and Heatherdene,
right for Fairholmes

Ladybower reflection.
This and more can be viewed on my Flickr account
Peak Rambler Photosets; Derwent Edge December 2013

Keep to the road, take the gate on the right
and walk alongside Ladybower Reservoir
" .... follow the road as it runs alongside Ladybower Reservoir .... "
The last gate ahead before the A57 Snake Pass

The A57 Snake Pass

From here, it really is a case of just follow the road as it runs alongside Ladybower Reservoir, right down to the point where the viaduct that carries the A57 Snake Pass across the reservoir.
Shaun, Andy and I grabbed some photo opportunities, with some nice reflections of the trees on the water.
We finally reached Heatherdene almost at sunset time!
Here we sorted out kit out, had a quick chat about the day, then set off home, nicely satisfied from a good days walking, with great people.

The map showing the route

To end on a light hearted note, we had a look at the route that Shaun had on his mobile, using Social Hiking and Viewranger. It was agreed that the shape depicted Casper the friendly ghost!

Thank you to Andy H, Shaun, Stuart, Neil, Steve and Cheryl for being fantastic company, I look forward to walking with you all gain sometime.
Andy F and Barney, sorry you guys couldn’t make it, hopefully next time you will.
Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,
Peak Rambler
Twitter             @PeakRambler
Photo Album   Peak Rambler Flickr Photo Album
YouTube         Peak Rambler on YouTube

Links to some of the areas I’ve mentioned and written about;
Froggatt Edge, Big Moor and some Stone Circles
Stanage Edge on a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday
An Autumn Walk on Bamford Moor and Stanage Edge.
Bleaklow, The B29 Superfortress and I got Bleaklowed!
Bleaklow and the Bristol Blenheim Crash Site
Bleaklow and the Defiant, on a hot day in May!
Monsal Head Camping, Bleaklow and the B29 Superfortress return visit
Bleaklow, the B29 and the Lancaster KB993
Castleton’s North Ridges Sunday 19th February 2012
Win Hill and its winning views!
A Peak Winter Meet, a Bunkhouse and Kinder
Derwent Moor and those funny shaped stones!
Derwent Moor to Highshaw Clough from Cutthroat Bridge
Kinder, Kinder Downfall and the Sabre…..
A Peak Winter Meet, a Bunkhouse and Kinder
Peak Rambler Photosets; Derwent Edge December 2013Social Hiking


  1. It was a lovely weekend, wasn't it? We saw the smoke from the heather burning on the Saturday too, as Yuri and I wandered along the Great Ridge.
    Good light for photos!

    1. It was a superb weekend, weatherwise, considering they had forecast low cloud and mist for the Sunday.

  2. Yes a great area.Good writup and photos.The Tors always great for a lunch spot if weather rough.Also good for a bit of bouldering. and view point.

    1. Thank you.

      Absolutely, the Tors are ideal for wind breaks, and as you say, bouldering.....