Lazy Photographer's Guide 04 - The Peak District
by Chris Maddock
article is the fourth of a series of articles covering much of the
UK. It is basically a list of locations I have programmed into my
GPS Satellite Navigator - most of which I have visited, the rest
being places I intend to get to some day. It is not a comprehensive
guide to the Peak District, only the parts I have been to and photographed
- or intend to.
It will not contain any photographs, the intention being simply
to provide information about location, access and likely subjects.
I have photographs of many of the locations in my Peak District
gallery at www.f22.org.uk
if you want to see what you could see before setting out.
called The Lazy Photographer's Guide since most of the locations
are less than half a mile from road access.
GR SK 141 915
Castles looks like a ruined fortress but is entirely natural, being
created by a huge landslip. The Tower is actually an outcrop of
harder rock that hasn't eroded as quickly as that around it. The
location isn't quite in the spirit of the Lazy Photographer, being
about a mile from any road access, but it looks spectacular enough
to be worth the effort.
- I haven't had the opportunity to get there yet, but it looks like
there are two possible points of access;
1) Turn off the A59 Snake Pass road at roughly SK 138 895 and find
somewhere to park near Hayridge Farm. There may also be the possibility
of parking a few hundred yards further down the A59 at Alport Bridge.
Walk up the track to the north, to Alport Farm and Alport Castles
Farm. The Castles are up the hill to the east.
2) Take the road up the Derwent Valley, past Ladybower and Derwent
Reservoirs and Howden Dam to the end of the western arm of Howden
Reservoir, GR SK 155 927. Park near this point and locate the footpath
that leads initially west, bearing southwest after a couple of hundred
yards. This path leads up the valley to Birchin Hat, the top of
the cliff above Alport Castles.
to see - Alport Castles themselves, views all around, moorland landscape
One of several fine gritstone "edges" in the
Peak District, Birchen Edge lies not far from Baslow.
- Take the A619 east from Baslow, turning off onto the B6050 Upper
Newbold road. Just after the turning is the car park, next to the
Robin Hood pub - roughly GR SK 280 721. The footpath leads north
up on to the Edge.
to see - the rock formations along the Edge and the views from it.
About ½ a mile along the edge is a monument to Lord Nelson,
nearby are three rocks known collectively as the Three Ships which
have been inscribed with the ships' names "Victory", "Royal
Soverin" (sic) and either "Defiance" or "Reliance".
This latter has been defaced so could be either name.
GR SK 040 612
small lake south of Buxton, Blake Mere looks to have good potential
for sunset views.
- take the A53 south from Buxton and take the left turn for Warslow
at School House, about a mile before Upper Hulme. After about half
a mile, fork right. Blake Mere is roughly half a mile further on,
opposite the second turning on the left.
to see - Blake Mere with moorland views beyond. Should have potential
for sunsets views throughout the year.
The Derbyshire home of the Duke & Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth
Park is 8 miles north of Matlock.
- the Park is signposted from the A619 Chesterfield-Baslow road,
with free parking at the southern end of the Park near Calton Lees
(GR SK 258 685). The main car park has parking charges.
to see - the 1000 acre park (free access all year round during daylight
hours), the River Derwent running through it, farmland, woodland,
deer, the Garden and waterworks designed by Capability Brown, the
House itself. Entry fees are payable for all except the park.
Between Millers Dale and
Buxton, Chee Dale is a limestone gorge carved out by the River Wye.
- the main point of access is a car park off the A6(T) at GR SK
112 724m, giving access to the western end of the Dale. An alternative
is a car park near the site of the old Millers Dale station (GR
SK 138 732), turn off the A6 onto the B6049 Tideswell road then
take the 2nd left towards Wormhill. The station site is a hundred
yards or so up on the left, just after you pass under the old railway
viaduct. The Monsal Trail footpath runs along the railway trackbed
as far as Chee Dale, thence beside the river.
to see - Chee Dale, limestone gorge & cliffs, the River Wye
and associated plants and wildlife.
A fine example of limestone
grasslands, Cressbrook Dale is renowned for its wild flowers.
Access - you can either park in Cressbrook village (on a minor road
between Litton and Monsal Head) and walk up the Dale, or at a small
layby on the A623 near Wardlow Mires - GR SK 179 755. The latter
gives quicker access to the head of the dal and Peter's Rock, an
outcrop on the eastern side of the upper dale.
to see - the dale and surrounding landscape, Peter's Rock and wild
flowers. Many colourful wild flowers can be found in May when the
grassy slopes become covered in carpets of Early Purple Orchids
and other species of spring flowers including dog violets, cowslips
and wood anemones. Cressbrook Dale's grasslands are amongst the
best places to find orchids in Britain.
& Baslow Edges
Two of the gritstone Edges on the eastern side of the Peak District,
Curbar & Baslow Edges offer fine views across the dales to the
south and west and across Big Moor to the northeast.
- the best access is from the pay & display car park between
the two Edges, above Curbar village, GR SK 261 747. A footpath leads
out along the top of both Edges, northwest for Curbar Edge and south
(across the road) for Baslow Edge whilst others lead from further
down the road along underneath both Edges.
to see - the rock formations of the Edges themselves and the fine
views all around. Woodland below the Edges, the cliffs, moorland
and associated plants & wildlife. The land above Baslow Edge
is grazed by a herd of Highland cattle, whilst Baslow Edge offers
good views of Curbar Edge from midday to dusk. The view the other
way (from Curbar Edge to Baslow Edge) is not so good as it's into
the light for much of the day. Evening light might work well though
A not so Lazy Photographer one this one, involving
a walk of a mile or two each way, but the effort is worthwhile.
- park in the large layby beside the A57 Ladybower-Sheffield road
at GR SK 216 874 and walk down the hill for a couple of hundred
yards to Cutthroat Bridge (GR SK 213 873). Take the footpath on
the right-hand side of the road, heading north. The path soon turns
west for half a mile or so before splitting into three. From the
junction you get your first view of Ladybower Reservoir. Take the
most right-hand path up the edge of Whinstone Lee Tor onto Derwent
Edge itself. From here you can walk along the top of the edge as
far you wish.
to see - once on the top of the Edge you get fine views across Ladybower
Reservoir and the surrounding moorland, including west to Kinder
Scout. Around the Edge are several prominent rock outcrops such
as (in order from the start) the Hurkling Stones, Wheel Stones,
Salt Cellar Dove Stone and Cakes of Bread, just beyond Dovestone
Tor. It's roughly 3½ miles out to this point from the car
The two reservoirs were created when the Howden
and Derwent Dams were built across the Derwent Valley between 1901
and 1916, to store & supply water for North Derbyshire, Sheffield,
Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.
- turn off the A57 Snake Pass road at the western end of Ashopton
Viaduct, which runs across the Derwent valley arm of Ladybower Reservoir.
There is a visitor centre just below Derwent Dam and the road leads
on up the western shores of both reservoirs. There are many parking
places along the road.
to see - the two dams and reservoirs, coniferous woodland and associated
plant & wildlife. In the western tower of Derwent Dam is a museum
dedicated to the Dambusters bouncing bomb attack on the Ruhr dams
in 1943, because Derwent Dam was used as the practice site for the
raid. The museum is only open on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Between
the two dams the remains of Birchinlee, or "Tintown" can
be seen, the temporary town built to accommodate the workers and
their families while the dams were being built. Further up, a colony
of Canada geese have adopted Howden Reservoir as their home
A pretty, deep, wooded valley and gorge through
which the River Dove flows.
- Dovedale can be reached from both ends, with parking at Milldale
(GR SK 136 547) just off the A515 Ashbourne-Buxton road, or near
the Izaak Walton Hotel (GR SK 146 509), between the A515 and A523
roads near Ilam. The latter car park is definitely pay & display,
I haven't used the former. The footpath follows the river and is
roughly 2 to 2½ miles from end to end.
to see - the river and gorge, rock outcrops & cliffs, riverside
plants & wildlife, imposing hills either side of the gorge
West of Buxton, the Goyt
Valley is an attractive little valley in the moorland, upstream
from Fernilee and Errwood Reservoirs.
- the road through the valley is one-way only so it has to be approached
from the North. From the A5004 Whaley Bridge-Buxton road, turn off
at GR SK 032 752 and follow the road down to the Errwood Reservoir
dam. Cross the dam and turn left, following the road up past the
reservoir to just beyond the end of the woodland. A couple of hundred
yards further on is a parking area in a disused quarry on the right.
to see - the quarry itself has some interesting rock formations
and surfaces, on the other side of the road, the valley is steep-sided
but accessible (with care) giving opportunities for riverside plants
and the river itself. A couple of hundred yards upstream is an old
packhorse bridge, which was relocated before the reservoir drowned
its original location. Crossing the bridge leads to a path up onto
the moorland on the other side of the valley.
This is the ridge that runs from Mam Tor to
Lose Hill, north of Castleton
- the best lazy Photographer access is the car park at GR SK 131
833, which is actually one end of the old main road from Castleton
to Chapel-en-le-Frith - closed in 1979 after a series of landslides
over the previous few years had damaged the road beyond repair.
Take the "main" road west out of Castleton, bearing left
to pass Speedwell Caverns on the way up Winnat's Pass. At the top
of the pass, turn right, then right again, passing the Blue John
Cavern before reaching the car park.
to see - from the car park you can see the remains of the old road,
Mam Tor rising above behind you and the full extent of the Great
Ridge out to Losehill. Below lies Castleton and the Hope Valley,
complete with the Castle cement works. If you feel like a bit of
exercise it's possible to climb up Mam Tor or take a footpath below
to climb up to the Ridge at Hollins cross
A gritstone outcrop above Hathersage, Higger
Tor offers fine views all round and isn't overly far from the car.
- take the A6187 east out of Hathersage and turn left after just
under a mile (at Hathersage Booths) onto the Ringinglow road. Before
you reach the summit, but after the road has flattened out, you'll
find a small layby at GR SK 256 822 - there's room for half a dozen
or so vehicles. The path to the Tor is just across the road.
to see - the approach path to the Tor offers fine views to the west,
of Hathersage, Stanage Edge, the Hope Valley and beyond. As you
get nearer the Tor, the view extends to include the south and, at
the tor itself, the east. Apart from the views, there are may interesting
rock outcrops and moorland. Look out for "bowls" cut out
in the rocks by gamekeepers to provide rainwater catchments for
In 1935 it was decided that the previous reservoirs in the Derwent
Valley (Derwent and Howden Reservoirs) were of insufficient capacity,
so Ladybower Reservoir was constructed to flood even more of the
Derwent Valley along with the adjacent Ashop Valley. The project
was extremely controversial since it also involved drowning the
villages of Derwent and Ashopton. Despite protests, construction
went ahead and the dam was completed in 1943, the reservoir becoming
full two years later, in 1945.
- the reservoir lies alongside the A57 Snake Pass road and the A6013
Bamford road. There is a large car park and visitor centre at Fairholmes,
GR SK 202 860, just south of the junction of these roads.
to see - a reservoir, what did you expect me to say? OK, from the
road by Fairholmes you get good views across the water to the Ashopton
viaduct (built on top of the flooded village of the same name) with
Crook Hill behind. Walking up to the junction with the A57 offers
a view southwest across the water to Win Hill. In the autumn the
lakeside woodland can give lovely autumnal colours reflecting in
Another view that I haven't had the right conditions to try yet
is to park by Yorkshire Bridge (take the A6013 south and turn right
immediately after the housing estate below the dam, parking by the
bridge at the bottom, GR SK 197 849) and walk up Win Hill. I think
that this will give a good view of Ladybower with Derwent Edge in
the background, possibly even Derwent Reservoir beyond. So far,
whenever I've looked there, the cloud base has been too low to make
the effort worthwhile :-(
Millstone Edge is another of the gritstone edges
for which the Peak District is famous, under which the remains of
several quarries can be seen. These quarries were used to extract
gritstone to make millstones, hence the name.
- Millstone Edge lies close to the A6187 Hathersage-Sheffield road.
There is a car park at GR SK 251 800, from which a footpath leads
north to the top of the cliffs or up to Over Owler Tor, behind Millstone
Edge. If the quarry remains interest you, walk down the road toward
Hathersage for a couple of hundred yards, then take a track the
leads off on the right.
to see - various views, rock formations and patterns in the quarries,
wildlife and plant life both below and on top of the edge
Head & Monsal Dale
Monsal Dale is a smashing valley in the heart
of the Peak District, Monsal Head giving a great Lazy Photographer's
view of the valley with the River Wye flowing down in the bottom
of the valley and the viaduct from the old Matlock-Buxton railway
line straddling it. The railway came out of a tunnel under Monsal
Head, over the viaduct and along the edge of the valley on towards
- Monsal Head is on the B5465 Ashford-in-the-Water to Wardlow road,
with a large (pay & display) car park behind the Monsal Head
Hotel at GR SK 184 715.
to see - From the top, you get great views both up and down the
valley (Monsal Head is on the outside of a bend in the valley) wit
the viaduct below you.
If you fancy a stroll, footpaths lead down (from the other side
of the hotel from the car park) to both the south and northwest.
The latter also offers a choice of descending to the viaduct, or
following the northern side of the valley. In the northern arm of
the valley there is a rather nice little bridge over the river,
accessible by a footpath from the old railway trackbed, now the
Monsal Trail footpath. You can also get down to the south of the
viaduct at the western end, to photograph the viaduct itself and
reflections in the river. Further downstream is a reasonable attractive
weir, before you reach a footbridge. Crossing that bridge will lead
you back up the Monsal Head on the path that led down to the south.
The woodland in the dale has a good range of plant and wildlife
worth watching out for whilst you're there.
A rather pretty little gorge through which the
Burbage Brook makes its way down past Grindleford and Nether Padley
the River Derwent
- 2 options here. The first is to use the same car park as for Millstone
Edge and take the footpath that leads east across Owler Tor
to the top of the gorge. The other is try and find somewhere to
park near Grindleford Station (GR SK 249 788) and walk up the gorge.
Alternatively (shock, horror) let the train take the strain, it's
on the Manchester-Sheffield line.
to see -the gorge and river, pretty little waterfalls and tumbles,
riverside vegetation and wildlife.
Not a spectacular as The
Roaches, this outcrop nearby is still worth a look, offering good
view of The Roaches themselves as well as the surrounding landscape.
the A53 south from Buxton and take a right turn about half a mile
before Upper Hulme. Just up this road is a layby at GR SK 017 619.
The path up onto the rocks is directly opposite.
to see - the rocks themselves, interesting formations, and the views
stretch of water, broken up into (disused) watercress beds, between
Middleton and Youlgreave.
- either from Middleton (GR SK 195 631), where a lane leads down
to the east becoming the footpath along the eastern bank of the
river, or from a lane by the river in Youlgreave (GR SK 208 639)
to see - watercress beds and sluices, riverside vegetation, waterfowl,
dippers in the faster water at the Youlgreave end, water voles in
the watercress beds.
Also known as Grin Low Tower, this structure
was built to give work to Buxton's unemployed, rebuilt in 1896 it
is 25 feet high with an internal staircase to a viewing platform
on the top. It stands on the site of a Neolithic burial mound, 1440
feet above sea level.
- best from the Grin Low park visitor centre. Take the A53 south
out of Buxton, turning left at Ladmanlow onto Grin Low Road, thence
left to the car park. There is a caravan site there as well, so
the turning should be well signposted. The car park itself is at
GR SK 049 719, fro where footpaths lead up to the tower and elsewhere
within the park.
to see - the tower itself from the outside, maybe the interior,
the views all around, the woodland and associated plant & wildlife
in Grin Low park.
Yet another gritstone
edge, above Hathersage, this one has a nice "crop" of
unfinished millstones lying below the cliffs from which they were
- I have three possibilities here. Firstly, if you only want to
photograph the millstones, take the A6187 through Hathersage, turning
off at School Lane (GR SK 233 815) and follow this road out of the
town and up onto the moors. After a mile or so you will come to
a turning on the left with a car park (Hook's Car, GR SK 245 829)
immediately beyond. This is the fallback parking for if the next
spot is occupied. Carry on up the hill for about 400 yards, where
you will find a small layby on the left at the end of a track, GR
SK 251 827. If that one is occupied there is room to pull off beside
a bench, also on the left, about 75 yards further on. If that also
is occupied, you can carry on up the hill to the next road junction
and park just beyond, at around GR SK 258 829, and walk back along
the top of the Edge -or return to Hook's Car and walk up to the
bottom of the Edge. If you are planning to do more than the millstones,
I would recommend using either the top location or Hook's Car rather
than occupying the smaller pulloffs all day.
to see - the millstones are at approx. GR SK 249 830, above the
track that lead up from the second possible parking place, almost
directly above Overstones Farm and immediately under the cliffs.
They make good foreground interest for views west along the Hope
Valley or south towards Baslow. Apart from the millstones and views,
there are also the cliffs and rock formations of the Edge and the
the more spectacular of the gritstone outcrops in the Peak District,
The Roaches is an exposed ridge to the southwest of Buxton.
- Take the A53 south from Buxton and turn right at School House,
about a mile before Upper Hulme. After a few hundred yards, take
the left fork, followed by the right fork. The road is now running
along under the eastern side of The Roaches before swinging around
the northern end of them. There is a layby near a gate across the
road, at about GR SJ 996 644, giving access to a path leading up
the end of the outcrop to the crest of the ridge. Alternatively,
go through the gate and follow the road down the western flank of
the Roaches (forking left near Roche Grange) to a car park at Rockhall,
GR SK 004 621.
to see - the Roaches themselves, rock formations and associated
plant and wildlife, the views. At Rockhall is the old gamekeeper's
cottage, built into the rock face. It's worth keeping your eyes
open whilst there, until recently there was a colony of red-necked
wallabies living in the area but I can't find any definite confirmation
whether they have survived or died out.
A bridge over the River Derwent just below Ladybower
the A6013 south from Ladybower Reservoir and turn right immediately
after the housing estate below the dam, parking by Yorkshire Bridge
at the bottom, GR SK 197 849.
to see - the bridge itself doesn't look overly photogenic, but there
is a weir just upstream that offers possibilities. Also there is
a path that leads from the bridge up to the western end of the dam
and another leading up to Win Hill which should offer good views
in the right weather conditions
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text and photos are copyright © Chris Maddock, 2007