Peak District – Derwent Edge – Lost Lad

On the 21st of may 2017, i had planned with my supervisor from work and two other work mates to go on a map reading trip in the Peak District. My supervisor also has another job with the TA, and he teaches outdoor skills to solider’s in the British Army. So he seemed like the perfect person to help me and my work mates, learn a bit more about map reading. Well, at least this was the plan, as only two days before our planned trip he informed me that he would be unable to make it, and that we would have to re arrange. This was due to the other training man at the barracks who trains in the same field of expertise had finished, and in doing so had passed the baton on to my supervisor. Not to worry i thought, and i planned my own trip. So the next day I looked over my map of the dark peak area in the Peak District, and decided i’d drive to the lay-by near Cutthroat bridge, and head  towards Derwent edge. With a rough route planned out, and all my gear packed, i decided to ask my cousin Dan if he fancied a walk, and if so, he could stay at mine so we’d be ready to go in the morning. Dan agreed and came round in the evening, and we were all set and ready for the morning.

The next morning Dan offered to drive, which worked out great for me, as that meant i could get some good footage out the window for the intro of my video. The journey took slightly longer than normal, this was due to a diversion in Hathersage village which had backed the traffic up quite bad. Once we arrived at the lay-by it was very busy, and we were quite lucky to get a space. Well, with a space acquired, boots and packs on, we set off down the road back towards cutthroat bridge. It was only a few hundred meters to the bridge, and we were soon on the trail. The first part of the path was uphill, and with the sun beaming down, we soon had a sweat on. Whilst planning the route i had decided to take a slightly more direct route to Derwent edge, because if we followed the footpaths the whole way we would have to back track at some point. As our walk would be long enough anyway, i had decided we should follow the stream up Highshaw clough, and join the next path that followed a series of grouse butts. Well it seemed that i wasn’t the only person to have had this idea before, as there was already an established path leading  the way.  IMG_6982[1] Whilst walking this short section, the heat got the better of me and i was forced to take off my thin showerproof jacket. With my jacket safely stowed in my bag, we carried on, and we were soon on to the official path we had been heading for. Following this path roughly westwards, we headed uphill towards the beginning of the path that would take us up to Derwent edge. As we carried on up hill, i had noticed that the clouds seemed to be moving in a lot quicker, and were getting darker. This was slightly worrying, and i mentioned to Dan that i was glad i had my waterproofs with me. It was then that the dreaded realisation kicked it…. whilst i did have my waterproof trousers, i had left my coat at home. Why oh why do i keep forgetting things i thought. Almost immediately after this realisation, it started to spot with rain. Deciding i didn’t want to risk waiting, i thought it best to stop and put my thin jacket back on, and my waterproof trousers. It was a good job i did, as the spots turned into a full on shower. With the weather coming in like this, and only being just less than two miles from the car, i asked Dan if he was happy to carry on. I also pointed out that the direction we were going still had blue sky, he replied he was happy to if i was, so on we went. It seemed fate was on our side, as we were soon out of the rain shower and back into the sun. I must admit i felt quite lucky at this point, as my thin jacket had kept me dry.  Looking around the sky, it seemed that our direction of travel was all into blue sky territory, whilst most other areas still looked very grey. So when we arrived at the junction where we would head for Derwent edge, i decided to take my waterproofs back off. As we continued up the new path, i saw the wheel stones come into view, as it was approaching mid day i said to Dan we should stop here for lunch, to which he agreed. IMG_6984[1] The wind was quite high in this exposed area, so we found a sheltered spot among the Wheel stones to eat our food. The spot i chose gave me a really amazing view. From my vantage point among the stones, i could see down upon the Lady bower reservoir, whilst also being able to see all the way down the vale of Edale, which is flanked on both sides, with Kinder scout to the north and the great ridge to the south. Whilst eating my lunch, i took a few time lapses of the incredible views for my YouTube video. After eating we had a good explore of the area, and then decided to carry on with our journey. It is around one mile from the wheel stones to Derwent edge, and on our way we passed many other interesting rock formations which we checked out on route, including  white tor and the Salt cellar boulder. IMG_6986[1] It wasn’t long though before we reached Derwent Edge, and with the sun still on our side, we had a good explore around its many crags before we reached Dove stone boulder, where we stopped for a break. Whilst taking a break, i was called upon by a group of Chinese tourists to take a group photo for them, which i did, and they seemed quite happy with the result. I then decided i should probably have a look at my map, to see where we should head to next. Whilst i had planned a rough route, i hadn’t really planed much past Derwent edge. So looking at the map i thought it would be nice to head towards Lost lad cairn, then make our down towards the Derwent reservoir. We would then follow that to Lady Bower, before cutting back up the hillside again and back to the lay-by. IMG_6990[1]IMG_6989[1] So with our rest over, it was time to carry on, first passing the cakes of bread, which do stand out quite a lot on the relatively flat terrain, before eventually reaching Back Tor. At the top of Back Tor is a trig point, so for me, like many others (i hope) it was time for a trig point photograph. It was extremely windy at the top, and whilst taking the photo, i also decided to record some video footage. For this i had to try and hide in the shelter of the trig pillar, as otherwise all that would have been heard was the wind noise. The views however were pretty amazing, as the top of Back Tor was the highest we had been on the journey so far. Looking around i could see most of the walk we had already done, and also the Lost Lad cairn was now in view. Before setting off for the cairn, we had a good look around the rock formations of Back Tor, with both of us agreeing it would have been a cool place to bivvy up for the night, though perhaps not in this wind. It was only a short trip from Back Tor to the Lost Lad cairn, and we made short work of the mainly down hill walk. Next to the cairn is also a viewing point, with the usual platform and metal disc, designating various landmarks and their distance from our location. Lost lad also has a bit of history to it, not that i know the exact full story, so for a better account see links in my YouTube video to Dean Reads or Andrew Beavers videos, who tell a  far better account than i can. For what i do know though, is that a long time ago, a young shepherd boy got lost on the hills in very bad weather, and subsequently died. His body was then found in the following spring, with the words “Lost Lad”written on a near-by rock. IMG_6993[1]IMG_6994[1] So after telling Dan the story of Lost Lad, it was time to head back down in to the valley towards the reservoir as i had planned earlier. We had nearly two miles of open moorland to cross. This bit of the journey was pretty featureless, with my eyes mainly fixed on the distant landmarks visible on the horizon. We slogged this section out, and we were soon at the top of Walkers clough, with amazing views of Derwent reservoir. It was then i realised how low it seemed, now i’m no expert on how high the level should be for this time of year, but it didn’t seem that long ago it was high enough to be flowing over the Derwent Dam wall. With as much of the view soaked in as my eyes could take, we made our way down the clough to the reservoir. IMG_6998[1] IMG_6997[1] Once at bottom of the clough, it became more apparent how low the level was. We followed the path towards the dam wall, and after around fifteen minutes, we arrived at the bridge at the base of Hollin clough. The stream that would normally flow under the bridge was all but dry, so we decided to head down the side of it, and into the reservoir. We made our way to the new waters edge and found a small ruin of an old building. I have no idea what it would have been, but where we were stood would have been at least fifteen foot deep under water if the reservoir was full. We made our way back out of the reservoir, and carried on to the dam wall. On reaching it we made our way down the steps at the side to get a better view. It was a really impressive sight, and anyone who finds themselves in the area should definitely check the reservoirs out. As a small side note, Derwent reservoir was used by pilots in 617 squadron during the second world war to practise the low level flights needed for the “Dam Buster” raids on the German Dams.  IMG_7008[1] IMG_7010[1] Leaving Derwent reservoir behind, we then came upon Lady Bower reservoir. This we would follow as far as Grindle clough, which was the point we would head back up the hillside, and back towards the lay-by. At roughly just over half way to the clough, we came across a sign that told us about the old Derwent village. This village had been abandoned and was demolished to make way for the creation of the reservoir in 1943 . Originally they had left the church tower standing, and at low levels you could see it sticking out of the water. Though it was then demolished long before i was born in 1947, no doubt due to health and safety concerns. IMG_7014[1] IMG_7013[1] Leaving the site of the old village, it wasn’t long before we reached the base of Grindle clough. After spending the last four or so miles walking downhill or on level ground, it was a bit of a shock to the legs to be going back steeply uphill again. Whilst time was getting on now, it was still quite warm in the sun. That was not to say the sky was completely clear though, in fact there was quite a lot of clouds. We had made it up the clough as far as the shelter, and then those clouds decided to start raining. Not really heavy, but enough for me to decided to put my waterproofs back on. This was all we needed, just when i thought we had been lucky enough to avoid all the rain. We carried on up the path, waiting for it to get heavier, but it never happened. In fact, it stopped completely, and walking uphill in waterproofs meant that i rapidly started to over heat. So as quick as my waterproofs had been put on, they were soon back off again, ah well, its better to be safe than sorry. We were soon back on our way again, and taking a look behind us, we admired the view of the valley below, where we had been only moments before. IMG_7016[1]  As we followed the path higher, we soon reached the top. This was a familiar spot, it was the path junction where we had turned for Derwent edge earlier in the day. This meant we was almost back at the car after a great day out. The walk had been a lot longer than i had originally planned for, not that this was a problem, but our legs were certainly feeling it. We followed the same route back as we had come up at the beginning,  passing the long line of grouse butts, and we were soon walking back down Highshaw clough towards Cutthroat bridge. From here it was only a few hundred meters to the lay-by. IMG_7018[1] Well back in the lay-by, i checked my tracker, and we’d covered just over eleven miles, quite a few more than the six or so i told Dan we’d be doing……sorry Dan 😉                         All in all it was a awesome walk, and my first time at Derwent edge, and i will no doubt be going back again in the future. We were really lucky with the weather, and who knows, maybe one day i’ll do a trip without forgetting something.

So here ends another blog, i really hope you enjoyed it.  A massive thank you if you made it this far through, and as always this blog is available as a video on my YouTube account, follow the link on the side menu under social. So thanks again for reading, and until next time, goodbye.

Regards Mark

White Peak – Middleton top to Harboro rocks


This journey in the great outdoors starts at Middleton top car park in Derbyshire. Middleton top is situated on the High peak trail, and is the location of a steam powered winding station on the High peak route. This would have been one of many in the 1800’s.  These winding stations used to haul trains up the steep inclines in their heyday, this one being for the Middleton incline. The railway line is now disused and the High peak trail is now a popular walking and cycling route. As i approached the pay and display machine in the car park, cash in hand, readying to lighten my load, i notice on its display the words “not in use”. Now this would normally please me greatly,  but when i know i’m going to be away from my car for a extended period of time, i can’t help but think, what happens if the machine magically repairs itself and i find myself with a ticket when i get back. So i decided to whip out my phone and quickly take a picture to prove that the machine wasn’t  working when I arrived. I then hurried back to the car to change into my walking boots, and gave my cousin Dan the good news about the parking fee.  So with boots on feet, and rucksacks on backs we set off, on what was to be around a 7 mile circular walk. The route we were going to walk was one i had done previously with my parents when i was a lot younger and smaller, and i can still remember how my legs were aching on the way back. So i was quite excited to do the walk now, happy that my legs were now more than up to the challenge of the day ahead. As we made our way past the old quarry and up through the first field, it soon became apparent that we may not have the weather on our side. As nice as it looked, with the sun shining beautifully in the sky, there was a fierce wind to go with it, and a alarming amount of black clouds on most horizons, threatening in the distance. IMG_5567[1]

Well it wasn’t long before we met with some of the clouds and their contents. We were around a mile or so into the journey, passing the top of the now disused intake quarry. I had stopped to record some footage for my YouTube video, when it started to snow, typical i thought, but luckily for us, we were right on the edge of it and missed the worst of the inclement weather. As quick as it came, it soon passed, i suppose that is one benefits of having high winds, it blows the bad weather away quicker. As we continued on, the land and trees provided a small respite from the incoming wind. When out of the wind, you could really feel the heat from the sun, and it was very welcome feeling indeed. We soon passed the first farm, and being careful not to get in his way whilst the farmer was using his big yellow tractor, i placed my camera down on my tripod to shoot a walk by for my video. As i went to retrieve it, he started talking to me,  at first he thought i was filming for A university, then i told him about my YouTube channel, we had a great conversation together, then we said our goodbyes and we left him to finish his work. Shortly after leaving him i realised id taken us on a a wrong turn, when the road appeared in front of us. There were no roads on the route i had planned, I quickly checked the map, found where we were and corrected accordingly. After a quick detour past a industrial processing area, we were soon back on the right path. This next part of the path saw us go back up hill again, through a sheep filled field, which was very steep, but thankfully quite short. As the path leveled out, a good number of wind turbines came in to view, and as we drew closer, it became clear that our path was going to take us right next to them. I have seen a lot of these wind turbines over the years, but i have never been as close to them before, and we were about to be literally right next to them very soon . As i mentioned before it was a very windy day, so i imagine that the turbines were in full flow, and the whooshing noises they made as the immense blades sliced through the air was very impressive indeed. We stood and watched them in awe for some time, taking photos and video footage, whilst soaking up the sun that was still shining brilliantly in the sky. IMG_5570[1]IMG_5571[1]

After leaving the wind turbines behind, the path took a steady decent, and took us out  the worst of the wind. It wasn’t long before Harboro rocks came into view on the horizon to our left, this was roughly the half way point on the walk, and our chosen location for our lunch. We carefully chose the correct path up to Harboro rocks to the trig point, which you could just see from where we were. Between us and the top was another farm building, and from the map, it wasn’t 100% clear which side we should pass it on to stay on the path. As we got closer i saw the way marker and a gate, puzzle solved. The farmer then came out with his dog, a small coffee coloured pug, who ran up to greet us, as the farmer jokingly shouted “he’s not been fed for a week”. I laughed, and told him my partners brother has a dog exactly the same. After a little chat, we said goodbye to the farmer, and proceeded through the gate and started the climb up to the top of Harboro rocks. It was only a short walk to the top, passing over two stiles and puffing and panting our way up the steep final 100 meters or so. Standing at the trig point, which is 379 meters above sea level, the view of the surrounding area was very good in the clear conditions. However, what wasn’t as good, was the immense wind that kept threatening to blow us off our feet if we weren’t careful. Yes it really was that bad, you could almost lean into it and not fall over. We both took a few photos, and i got a bit of video footage done, which was extremely hard in the wind. Then we both decided to retire to the westerly side of the hill out of the wind to eat our lunch. IMG_5573[1] After lunch we passed back over the top of Harboro rocks, down the other side towards the High peak trail. Before reaching the trail we investigated some old ruins part way down the hillside, which i now believe to be old mining ruins, though very little is actually known about them, the area is known to have been mined for lead over the years. After the little investigation, we headed onto the High peak trail and back towards Middleton top, which according to the nearby sign post, was only 2 miles away, which seemed really close, but then the trail is more of a direct route back, so off we went. On the way back we passed a rusty old cylinder lodged in the bank side. It looked like the body of a steam engine, and in fact it turned out to be an old boiler from a wooden winding house for the Hopton incline. Nothing is left of the old building anymore, just the boiler, as the winding house was demolished in favour of lessening the incline. This was to enable the trains to tackle the incline under their own steam in the late 1800′ s.  IMG_5575[1] Shortly after reaching the bottom of Hopton incline, we passed through a tunnel and came up to the base of intake quarry, the top of which we had been at earlier in the day, when we’d had the brief snow shower. A nearby information board informed us that the police sometimes used the quarry for live ammunition training, so probably best not to wander in there anytime, just in case.  This now left less than a mile, which we soon covered, and before we knew it, the familiar sight of Middleton top visitor center  was in full view, with the winding house’s distinct chimney looming behind it. IMG_5577[1] We both had a really great day out on a thoroughly enjoyable walk, in what was, apart from the wind, very good weather. So here ends the latest blog, which I hope you have enjoyed reading, i would certainly recommend doing this walk to anyone finding themselves local to the Matlock area. Also a big thank you to all my followers on here, it really means a lot to me, and to anyone interested you can also watch the video to this walk on my YouTube channel, link to my channel on the home page under social. Please feel free to comment, and thanks again for enjoying my content,

Regards           Mark IMG_5579[1]