I love the Peak District as I’m sure you may have guessed by now if you’re a regular visitor. I like to get away from the crowds, find a quiet spot and enjoy the tranquility the Peaks have to offer. There are many great spots you can go to, especially midweek, where you can find that little slice of heaven. A place where you can stand, sit, relax or maybe wild camp and soak up the views. The Peak District has such a varied mix of landscapes, from the lush green farmland of the White Peak, to the high windswept moorland of the Dark Peak. I must admit I am rather partial to the moors, I love being up there in all weathers, experiencing the loneliness and enjoying the silence. I don’t think I could narrow my favourite spots down to a top 10, as you can imagine I’m rather spoilt for choice. However… One of the places that I know would be on my overflowing list of favourites is Bleaklow Stones.
Today’s walk began at the small parking spot on the banks of the Howden Reservoir at OS Grid Ref SK 1546 9274. Luckily, when I arrived there at 09:00 there were no other cars there, it is only a very small parking place with room for about 4 cars. I hadn’t really decided where today’s wander was going to take me, I knew that I wanted to head up to Bleaklow Stones, I also knew I had limited time as I had to be home for 15:30 to pick my daughter up from school. I set off walking along the path and began to follow the River Westend through the pine plantation.
I eventually decided which route to take in my journey towards Bleaklow Stones, I chose to take the “Grouse Shooters Track” up on to Ridgewalk Moor and head for Grinah Stones. I’ve no idea if it is called the “Grouse Shooters Track” but that is what I’m calling it as it is used by vehicles to gain access to the Grouse Shooting Butts up on the moor. I walked through the gate at SK 1416 9458 and then began to zig zag my way upwards.
The Dark Peak area of the Peak District has many Grouse Shooting Butts dotted around its high moorland. They are marked on the OS Map and vary in their design/construction. The Butts up on Ridgewalk Moor are in a row of 10 and I can’t possibly begin to imagine how many grouse must have met a sticky end here. I have seen and heard grouse shooting taking place over the years but never from up close. Grouse Shooting has played a huge part in the history of these moors and it’s a “sport” I must admit to knowing nothing about. I’d be interested in finding out more about it, not from a shooters perspective but a game keepers. If you know any who might be interesting in appearing in an episode of the podcast then let me know 🙂
After a walk through low cloud on Ridgewalk Moor I began the ascent up to Grinah Stones just as the weather began to improve. The forecast was for low cloud with scattered showers during the morning and then for it to lift a little before lunch. The short and sharp climb up on to the top of Grinah Stones was over before I knew it and the cloud had lifted enough for me to be treated to some great views from the top.
As the rain had stopped I decided to have an early lunch up on Grinah Stones, the wind was pretty strong today so I found a huge bit of gritstone to hide behind while I ate. I enjoyed the views that you can see in the image above for a good 30 minutes or so and watched the cloud roll over Kinder Scout.
After Grinah Stones I took the path that heads over towards Bleaklow Stones, the views as you make your way along this section are fantastic. I was amazed at how many Mountain Hares I saw along the way too and I can honestly say I’ve never seen so many in a day before. They were jumping out from all angles as I made my way up the final climb on to the top of Bleaklow Stones.
Bleaklow Stones really is a great spot, it has all I could wish for when I’m wanting to get away from it all for a while. It has stunning views back down towards Howden, towards Alport Dale and the Kinder Plateau in the distance. I would highly recommend you head up there, midweek if possible and soak up the views that are lay out in front of you.
After a very short stop at Bleaklow Stones I made my way down to Westend Head and the beginnings of the River Westend. There are no real paths here so I picked my way down beside the river until I crossed over a stile to the area where the sheep are allowed to graze. The clough opens out as you head further down stream and it was at this point that the sun came out today.
I had a great time meandering down along side the river, I had to jump across it a few times to pick out the best route. In no time at all I had arrived at the point where Grinah Grain joins the River Westend, I jumped over the river once again and then made my way across a boggy section towards the path I had walked earlier in the day.
The weather had improved massively from when I walked through the pine forest earlier in the day, the sun was beaming down through the trees and the colours were fantastic.
I made it back down to the car in good time, I had picked up the pace on the way back from Bleaklow Stones as I knew I couldn’t be late to meet my daughter at school. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable walk and I would highly recommend giving it a go if you have around 4 hours spare. The route I took was around 9.5 miles long and there are plenty of opportunities to extend it if you wish, If I had more time I would have headed towards Alport Castles from Bleaklow Stones which would have added another hour or so…. another day perhaps.
As always, thank you for visiting the site. Why not leave a comment if you can spare a moment, I always welcome feedback, route suggestions and even constructive hate mail 🙂