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Bleaklow and the Upper Derwent - The Peak Empty Quarter

Bleaklow and the Upper Derwent - The Peak Empty Quarter


Postby icemandan » Mon Sep 06, 2010 10:36 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Bleaklow Head

Date walked: 06/09/2010

Time taken: 7

Distance: 32 km

Ascent: 1633m

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"No one loves Bleaklow. All that get on are glad to get off." So wrote Wainwright, his sunny disposition not having been enhanced by having to be rescued from being stuck waist deep in a peat bog. I don't agree. The triangle of high moors between Glossop, Sheffield and Holmfirth contains some of the wildest country south of the Border incredibly with 20 million people less than an hour away and very close to the honeypot of the Derwent Reservoirs of Dambusters fame.

The plateau is covered in a layer of peat, up to 8 ft deep and carved into a labyrinth of twisting groughs (the constant ups and downs accounting for the unlikely seeming height measurement). It's very much like walking across a giant chocolate sponge pudding - less tasty if you fall on your face in it though.
Moorland - There's a lot of this!.jpg


I'd refer sceptical Scots to Hamish Brown who writes in Hamish's Mountain Walk (Thursday 9th May - Cairn of Claise) 'Anybody can navigate along the Aonach Eagach; but try the Cairngorms or here or Kinder. Admittedly GPS helps.

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Anyway we parked at the big car park under the castellated Derwent Dam and headed up the nature trail through the woods before picking up the lip of the Woodlands valley. The slope dropped away to the green valley, there were wide views south to Mam Tor, Win Hill, Stanage and Kinder edges. Overtaking a large party of chatty ramblers, we arrived at Alport Castles - Derbyshire's unlikely Quirang where a whole hillside has fallen away down the slope leaving high cliffs and rocky towers.
Alport Castles 1.jpg
Alport Castles 2 (2).jpg


Drama over, we headed north into the empty expanse of the moors which gradually swallowed up the view. A thin path led to a solitary trig point.
Trig Point (2).jpg


Over a fence,onto a brown bulge, somewhat imaginatively called 'The Ridge' on the map and the hard work started. A jump over a trough of green slime and up and down grough after grough, sometimes brown and crumbly, sometimes black and slimy. Eventually a thin path emerged from somewhere, views north to Manchester and Yorkshire started to emerge and we were at the large cairn on Bleaklow
Bleaklow summit and Pennine Way.jpg
and the trickle of people following the Pennine Way. It was a clear day and we could see north to Pendle Hill and far out to the Vale of York.

Back to the moors. More chocolate sponge cake and intermittent paths, following a very intermittent line of posts until we came out at Bleaklow stones - a Henry Moore-esque gritstone outcrop worn into smooth surreal shapes by the wind including a fine hammerhead.
Bleaklow Stones.jpg


The edge of the plateau showed a bit more view and we carried on down to the headwaters of the River Derwent. The Derwent ends up in the muddy soporific Trent but here it is a clear rushing stream in a steep sided heathery little glen that reminded me of the Falls of Tarf area - except that the path promised by the Ordnance Survey didn't exist. I was getting a bit worried about the time as I had to be in Cleethorpes in the evening for my mother-in-law's birthday. We splashed and blundered through the boulders, bracken and bog. At one point I fell in the river.

Eventually a track materialised and we carried on at close to running pace past the two nearly empty reservoirs at Howden and Derwent before we got back to the car. All in all a fantastic day's walk and an unbelievable wilderness experience.
Last edited by icemandan on Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
icemandan
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Posts: 447
Munros:257   Corbetts:26
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Sub 2000:16   Hewitts:200
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Location: Kendal

Re: Bleaklow and the Upper Derwent - The Peak Empty Quarter

Postby GarryH » Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:33 pm

Great report iceman,look forward to the route map.
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Re: Bleaklow and the Upper Derwent - The Peak Empty Quarter

Postby BothyManBone » Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:51 pm

Sorry Iceman have to side with the WW on this one. Years of tramping over this stuff while a Scout in Leicester have left me scared for life. On the last occassion if I recall one sensible lad thought that jumping into every peat gough would be a bit of a laugh with predicatable consequences. Montain Rescue were called out and he went down on a stetcher with a bad ankle with the rest of us following. Good experience I guess, but not a good end to the day. Can't disagree on the wildness though or how odd that is given proximity to people. I have even camped wild in the area a few times, but that's a while ago now.
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Re: Bleaklow and the Upper Derwent - The Peak Empty Quarter

Postby icemandan » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:14 am

Acquired taste I guess. And I was up there at the end of a dry summer. I reckon the isolation (particularly when you consider how close to Sheffield and Manchester it is, compensates for the squelchiness. I'm a bit too old for taking flying leaps into bogs though I know some people who aren't!
icemandan
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Re: Bleaklow and the Upper Derwent - The Peak Empty Quarter

Postby Slogger » Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:24 pm

I on Icemandans' side on this I love the area of Bleaklow and Kinder having spent most of my teenage and early twenties walking there. Its good country to practice the use of compass especially when the clag is down and to get used to meandering around boggy stretches. Great wild atmosphere in any weather, fantastic!
Dave.
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Re: Bleaklow and the Upper Derwent - The Peak Empty Quarter

Postby JGKES » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:45 am

Icemandan,it certainly is a widerness walk.The trig point north of Alport Castles above the Alport valley which you photographed has been visited by me on 11 occasions;not once have I seen another walker there,or even in the vicinity.Those who think because the Peak District is not as high as the Lakes,Scotland or Wales it's therefore easy should try the route from the Castles to Bleaklow Head.No nice well-trodden ridge-path.I went up to Grinah Stones last Friday,11 March,via the shooters track above the Westend river.The way across Ridgewalk Moor was a veritable swamp and half a gale blowing,so I cheated and did the Castles by retreating and ascending Birchin Hat.I'll do your route later on towards summer when the ground has tried out some.Enjoyed your pics.
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Re: Bleaklow and the Upper Derwent - The Peak Empty Quarter

Postby susanmyatt » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:47 am

Walked many times around here and enjoyed most of them, great walking, thanks Iceman :D
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