|OS Route Map →||Route file →|
Date: 10 Aug 2008
Start / Finish: Bamford. Roadside parking.
Maps: Explorer OL1: The Dark Peak.
|Day 1||Bamford Edge, Derwent Edge & Margery Hill||11.3 miles / 2270 feet (18.2km / 691m)|
|Day 2||Cut Gate, Howden reservoir & Alport Castles||13.2 miles / 1710 feet (21.3km / 521m)|
A circuit of the Upper Derwent from Bamford. The outward leg is via the Bamford and Derwent Edges, the Cartledge Stones ridge path and Howden Edge to Margery Hill, and the return is via the Cut Gate track to Howden reservoir, a climb to Alport Castles and Bridge-end pasture, and finally joining the Derwent Vallery Heritage Way to Bamford Mill.
The changeable and windy weather forecast looked decidedly better to the East, and we took this opportunity for a short return to our old nearby stomping ground of the Dark Peak, which we virtually did to death years ago on day walks. Bamford Moor was only recently opened under CROW access and provided some new territory to explore, while the familiar areas refreshed old memories.
The National Park have been busy with the paving slabs since our last visit, especially on the Cartledge Stones section which was a real surprise - we remember this as a little trodden route and an unlikely candidate for attention.
Note: dogs are not allowed on the Bamford Moor access land.
The ascent is via a rough surfaced track up Bamford Clough, named Leeside Road on the map, which climbs NE through the trees to a minor road and stile onto Bamford Moor access land, where a notice is displayed:- 'No kite flying', which is a new one to us. A good path climbs to Bamford Edge where the strong cold wind was blasting over the escarpment, but the clear air gave distant views beneath the mainly grey skies. The steep groove of Parkin Clough climbing Win Hill opposite could clearly be seen while Ladybower and Derwentdale stretched out ahead.
At the northern end the path curves R through a ruined wall and fizzles out, and we freelanced NE across the moor crossing a couple of boggy stream heads towards Jarvis Clough. On reaching the clough the steep sides turned out to be tall very dense bracken, and the best line was to follow a series of shooting butts above the rim which led us easily to the good shooter track that curves around the head of the clough and descends its eastern flanks to Cutthroat Bridge.
Streams are usually peaty brown in the Dark Peak but the one issuing from Highshaw Clough near the bridge resembled liquid foaming dark toffee. A very well trodden path, metres wide in places, ascends gradually to the path junction at Whinstone Lee Tor near the south end of the popular Derwent Edge. There was one heavy shower here just as we encountered the strong wind again, but the stinging rain passed quickly to leave superb clear views along the edge and great skies, a scene made all the more colourful by the vibrant heather. We avoided the battering of another brief windswept downpour among the rocks of the Wheel Stones, and this was the last rain of the day.
The well worn path, paved for some of its length, faithfully follows the edge to the boulder pile hosting the trig point on Back Tor. An extra snippet of entertainment to complement the great views was someone walking this pedestrian highway and staring intently at his outstretched hand, holding what we assume was a GPS device.
At Back Tor we saw the clear line of the Cartledge Stones ridge, now paved well into the distance. This made very easy work of the march northwards close to the intermittent squelchy path we had followed years ago, much quicker but less adventurous. North of Cartledge Flat the main line veers NE to become the Dukes Road path, but our route was NW to Howden Edge which starts as a fairly clear but very wet line heading towards the slopes of Round Hill. It looks a bit grim at first, but despite the wetness the ground is surprisingly firm and presents no difficulty. The peaty path converges with Cartledge Brook and becomes vague and intermittent higher up as the peat groughs of the small tributaries are reached, but it can just be traced onto the short tussocky grass of Howden Edge where it emerges near a wooden post.
Once again the wind was blasting over the escarpment edge, and walking unsteadily northwards we thought our memory had failed us: expecting to see the trig point on Margery Hill a short walk away, the gleaming white pillar was more distant and there was an unfamiliar fence on the prominent rise ahead. The reason for the deception became clear as we approached the fence: this was indeed Margery Hill and the white pillar was the trig point on Outer Edge. An interesting notice has been erected describing investigative works on 'Margery Hill Cairn', which has been dated at 3500 years old and now designated as an ancient monument. It asks us to keep outside the fenced area temporarily to minimise erosion while a strategy is formulated for its preservation.
There was a little rain in the night but nothing to speak of, and the grouse were up early and cackling away. The wind was still strong and the highest spots of Bleaklow and Kinder were still misty, but the local edges were clear as we descended the Cut Gate track down Bull Clough and Cranberry Clough to the river Derwent. This is a beautiful walk and the sun broke through to show this fine remote peak district scenery to best advantage.
Crossing Slippery Stones Bridge and taking the track to Howden reservoir, there was a family of crossbills drinking at a water flow by the track, the first time we have seen them in the Peak District, and a flock of Canada geese dozing on the banks of the lake.
A pleasant walk alongside the access road from the King's Tree took us around the western arm of the reservoir to the foot of Ditch Clough, the start of the footpath to Alport Castles. The shooting butts lining the path on the high slopes reminded us that tomorrow would be the glorious 12th. and this might be a noisier place.
Escarpment edges are always prone to catch the wind when it hits them broadsides but Alport Castles is particularly so judging by our visits. We knew what to expect on a day like this: the moment the landslip came into view there was a terrific blast that almost blew us over and flung the camera case into my face.
After a level section alongside a wall, the ridge SE is largely paved to Bellhag Tor and the grassy hills continue over Bridge-end pasture to Crook Hill, giving a view of the Hope ridge along the way and across to Derwent edge. The footpath emerges on the Derwent access road close to Ashopton viaduct.
At the southern tip of Ladybower reservoir a footpath descends through woodland to Yorkshire bridge, and another footpath ascends to join the Derwent Valley Heritage Way along a disused rail trackbed. The exit point is a footpath signed 'Touchstone Trail' that leads across fields to Bamford Mill, which has a popular and pleasant millpond with many ducks taking advantage of the summer day trippers.