After my windy walk with Andy last week (“Peak District – Ladybower & Alport Dale”) I decided it was high time for another Peak District outing. There has been rather a drought when it comes to walking of late, what with one thing and another I just haven’t had the time to head out. I feel as though I have made up for it today though with a good route and some fantastic views thrown in, so without further ado here is my summary of where I headed and what I got up to.
I parked up this morning at the small spot near the very top of the road that runs along the banks of the Howden Reservoir (OSGB Ref SK167937). The sun was just rising above the Howden Moors and the light was casting a fantastic colour across the chilly looking water of the Reservoir. There was one other car parked in the same layby but other than that the place seemed totally deserted, it’s the refreshing change that I look forward to in the Peak District when winter finally arrives. The Peak District is the UK’s most visited national park and it is sometimes hard to park or even move for the hundreds of other people who like me, want to experience the delights that the Peak has to offer. Winter brings the opportunity to have the place to yourself. Don’t get me wrong there are still places you can go in summer to get away from the crowds, you just have to head away from the major areas and get out on the routes less trodden. The Northern Edge of Kinder Scout is a personal favourite of mine when I wish to get away from the more frequently walked western and southern edges… anyway.. back to today.
Today’s Route took me from Howden, up towards the slippery stones and then I followed the River Derwent towards its source. The going is good at this point as the road leading the majority of the way up is nicely maintained. The high winds that I experienced a few days ago had thankfully died down and the weather today was colder but the bite of the wind wasn’t quite as harsh. The road eventually stops and you continue further towards the source of the River Derwent on a rather more boggy path. I passed areas where it looks like the great folk from “Moors For The Future” have been doing some regeneration work, The rough OSGB Grid Reference for the site in question is SK144976 near the bottom of Hoar Clough and Barrow Clough.
I continued following the winding River Derwent which at this point is just a gently flowing stream, I then decided that I would head up and out of the valley on to the moors near Swains Head. The view from here is fantastic. I paused for a minute at OSGB Grid Ref SK133983 to take it all in and to record some video footage.
From here the route gets a little less straight forward, the path from Swains Head to Bleaklow Stones is best described as rough. It’s an interesting boggy path which dives in and out of the soggy peat and eventually weaves its way towards Bleaklow via a few wooden stakes that are there as navigation aids. I basically made my own route up as I attempted to dodge the deeper peat groughs and keep the destination in sight.
As I arrived on the northern slopes of Bleaklow Stones I found some nice patches of snow that were hanging on from last weeks wintery showers. The snow was knee deep in places and it was hiding the ankle breaking holes nicely. I managed to fall into one of the holes while walking across one patch of snow, I dropped in to my waist and had to laugh as I was not expecting it at all 🙂
I decided that Bleaklow Stones would be as good a place as any to stop for a spot of lunch while admiring the views. In my eyes this is one of the nicest spots in the Peak District, It’s not that busy even in summer and the views southwards towards Kinder Scout are breathtaking. You may be able to see in the image above how nice it looked today, the sun was dropping and the colours were fantastic. After a quick late lunch break I decided to cut the route short and head straight down towards Alport instead of continuing westward towards the Bleaklow summit.
The path down towards Alport was boggy in places but nothing nearly as bad as I had experienced earlier near Swains Head. There is a nicely worn path across Alport Moor which eventually becomes the edge path that leads to Alport Castles. I took the image above at OSGB Grid Ref SK134927. I swung north eastwards when I arrived at Alport Castles and took the path back down towards Howden, for some reason I had been calling it Alport Heights during the video footage I took today… I’ve no idea why but hopefully you can forgive me 🙂
In what seemed like no time at all I was back down at the road and walking the final section to the car, I’d covered around 20kms in total and felt fantastically refreshed after another great Peak District outing. On the way home I recorded a quick AudioBoo summarising today’s route, I promised I would attempt to do one after each walk for the foreseeable future.
When I got home I roughly stitched together all the footage from today then uploaded it to YouTube, you can find the post containing the video on my website here….. Peak District – Howden, Bleaklow & Alport – Video