www.f22.org.uk
www.maddock.org.uk

The Lazy Photographer's Guide 04 - The Peak District

by Chris Maddock

 

This 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.

It's called The Lazy Photographer's Guide since most of the locations are less than half a mile from road access.


Alport Castles
Birchen Edge
Blake Mere
Chatsworth
Chee Dale
Cressbrook Dale
Curbar & Baslow Edges
Derwent Edge
Derwent Reservoirs
Dovedale
Goyt Valley
Great Ridge

Higger Tor
Ladybower Reservoir
Millstone Edge
Monsal Head & Monsal Dale
Padley Gorge
Ramshaw Rocks
River Bradford
Solomon's Temple
Stanage Edge
The Roaches
Yorkshire Bridge

 


Alport Castles
GR SK 141 915

Alport 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.

Access - 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.

What to see - Alport Castles themselves, views all around, moorland landscape and wildlife.

Top


Birchen Edge

One of several fine gritstone "edges" in the Peak District, Birchen Edge lies not far from Baslow.

Access - 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.

What 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.

Top


Blake Mere
GR SK 040 612
A small lake south of Buxton, Blake Mere looks to have good potential for sunset views.

Access - 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.

What to see - Blake Mere with moorland views beyond. Should have potential for sunsets views throughout the year.

Top


Chatsworth

The Derbyshire home of the Duke & Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth Park is 8 miles north of Matlock.

Access - 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.

What 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.

Top


Chee Dale
Between Millers Dale and Buxton, Chee Dale is a limestone gorge carved out by the River Wye.

Access - 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.

What to see - Chee Dale, limestone gorge & cliffs, the River Wye and associated plants and wildlife.

Top


Cressbrook Dale
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.

What 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.

Top


Curbar & 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.

Access - 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.

What 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

Top


Derwent Edge
A not so Lazy Photographer one this one, involving a walk of a mile or two each way, but the effort is worthwhile.

Access - 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.

What 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 park.

Top


Derwent Reservoirs
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.

Access - 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.

What 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

Top


Dovedale
A pretty, deep, wooded valley and gorge through which the River Dove flows.

Access - 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.

What to see - the river and gorge, rock outcrops & cliffs, riverside plants & wildlife, imposing hills either side of the gorge

Top


Goyt Valley
West of Buxton, the Goyt Valley is an attractive little valley in the moorland, upstream from Fernilee and Errwood Reservoirs.

Access - 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.

What 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.

Top


Great Ridge
This is the ridge that runs from Mam Tor to Lose Hill, north of Castleton

Access - 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.

What 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

Top


Higger Tor
A gritstone outcrop above Hathersage, Higger Tor offers fine views all round and isn't overly far from the car.

Access - 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.

What 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 the grouse.

Top


Ladybower Reservoir
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.

Access - 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.

What 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 the water.
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 :-(

Top


Millstone Edge
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.

Access - 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.

What to see - various views, rock formations and patterns in the quarries, wildlife and plant life both below and on top of the edge

Top


Monsal 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 Millers Dale

Access - 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.

What 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.

Top


Padley Gorge
A rather pretty little gorge through which the Burbage Brook makes its way down past Grindleford and Nether Padley
to the River Derwent

Access - 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.

What to see -the gorge and river, pretty little waterfalls and tumbles, riverside vegetation and wildlife.

Top


Ramshaw Rocks
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.

Access - take 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.

What to see - the rocks themselves, interesting formations, and the views around.

Top


River Bradford
An attractive stretch of water, broken up into (disused) watercress beds, between Middleton and Youlgreave.

Access - 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)

What to see - watercress beds and sluices, riverside vegetation, waterfowl, dippers in the faster water at the Youlgreave end, water voles in the watercress beds.

Top


Solomon's Temple
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.

Access - 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.

What 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.

Top


Stanage Edge
Yet another gritstone edge, above Hathersage, this one has a nice "crop" of unfinished millstones lying below the cliffs from which they were quarried.

Access - 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.

What 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 moorland above.

Top


The Roaches
One of the more spectacular of the gritstone outcrops in the Peak District, The Roaches is an exposed ridge to the southwest of Buxton.

Access - 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.

What 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.

Top


Yorkshire Bridge
A bridge over the River Derwent just below Ladybower Dam

Access - take 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.

What 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

Top


Return to Articles Index
Return to Photography Index
Return to Front Page

All text and photos are copyright © Chris Maddock, 2007