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Upper Derwentdale #1 / 1 day / 17 miles (27km)

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Date: 24 Jan 2004
Start / Finish: Fairholme, 172892. Free car parks along the valley road. The large main car park is pay&display.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 1: Dark Peak.

Day 1Upper Derwentdale #117 miles / 2830 feet (27km / 862m)

This is one of several variations of a circuit that explores the remote upper reaches of the Derwentdale side of Bleaklow, another favourite day walk for winter.

Day 1 - Upper Derwentdale #1

From the nearest small car park we took the path NW & SW up to Lockerbrook Farm and the start of the edge path that leads NW along the rim of Alport Dale, enjoying a pleasant sunrise along the way. At the shattered landslip of Alport Castles, we descended to take the Westend valley route, crossing the bridge and following the shooters track up the N side to the very wet Ridgewalk Moor. The going wasn't bad at all considering the recent rain, and we soon squelched our way to the small prominence of Round Hill and crossed another boggy depression to the first boulders of the fine and remote Barrow Stones. This is a favourite haunt for mountain hares, which are brilliant white at this time of year, but when there is no snow we can spot them a mile off against the dark peat and heather. We see them here every year, there were just three today hopping over the rocks.

Dawn over Ladybower
Dawn over Ladybower (24 Jan 2004__08:17:17)
Morning sky from the Alport Castles path
Morning sky from the Alport Castles path (24 Jan 2004__08:47:52)
Westend Valley
Westend Valley (24 Jan 2004__10:27:10)
Pool on Ridgewalk Moor with Round Hill beyond
Pool on Ridgewalk Moor with Round Hill beyond (24 Jan 2004__10:54:16)

There is a great feeling of wild spaciousness here - usually, but today a strong wind and a very heavy hailstorm started, and as it was impossible to look into it, we took a compass bearing N from the highest stones and descended over rough moor to the headwaters of the Derwent, each holding up a gloved hand to protect our faces and eyes!. When we reached the infant river, the hail had settled like a covering of snow, and crossing to the N side we picked up a good path (good for remotest Bleaklow, that is) that contoured the steepening heathery valley eventually dissipating at the wet slopes around Coldwell Clough. Crossing the stream, the path emerges on the riverbank and a little further beyond at Humber Knolls, we watched out for the thin path that ascends L to become a paved path crossing a wet area to the start of the shooters track at 151969. This gives easy walking above the Derwent to Slippery Stones bridge, where the reservoir track takes over all the way back to Fairholme.

Upper Derwentdale covered in hail
Upper Derwentdale covered in hail (24 Jan 2004__12:20:48)
Hailbow at Humber Knolls
Hailbow at Humber Knolls (24 Jan 2004__13:05:46)
Looking back into the upper Derwent
Looking back into the upper Derwent (24 Jan 2004__14:04:46)
Light on Derwent reservoir
Light on Derwent reservoir (24 Jan 2004__14:50:36)