Peak District Walks
Date: 2nd April 2011
Distance: 11.4 miles
Ascent: 1901 feet
Time: 5 hours 30 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SK0167938
A blustery walk visiting a number of moorland tops in the Upper Derwent Valley including Howden Edge, the highest point in South Yorkshire.
Route Summary: King's Tree - Slippery Stones - Cold Side - Howden Clough - High Stones - Margery Hill - Outer Edge - Crow Stones - Stainery Clough Head - Hoar Stones - Horse Stone Naze - Oaken Bank - Slippery Stones - King's Tree
1. Slippery Stones bridge
2. The northern end of Howden Reservoir
3. A very accommodating toad on the path up Howden Clough
4. Howden Edge
5. Posing on one of the rocks on High Stones
6. Looking back along Howden Edge to High Stones
7. Margery Hill
8. The trig point on Margery Hill
9. Looking north to Outer Edge
10. The trig point on Outer Edge
11. Looking back at Outer Edge
12. Looking south along the Derwent Valley from Crow Stones
13. Horse Stone Naze
14. Crow Stones
15. Some more of the Crow Stones
16. The cairn on the highest point of the Barnsley / Sheffield boundary
17. Stood by the Hoar Stones
18. The Horse Stone
19. Looking back up at Horse Stone Naze
20. The River Derwent
Walk Detail: After posting a blog about trying to complete the Wainwrights I'd fully intended to try and bag the final two summits, St Sunday Crag and Hartsop Above How, that I needed to complete the Eastern Fells.
As Saturday approached however a deteriorating forecast, including heavy rain in the morning and gusts of up to 70mph over exposed ridges, meant that I had to rethink my plans. Having decided against the Lakes I quickly chose this alternative walk in the Peak District's Upper Derwent Valley
I started the walk at the King's Tree parking area at the northern terminus of the road near the far end of Howden Reservoir. Judging by the number of people I passed in the early stages of the walk the paths around Howden Reservoir are very popular with both walkers and cyclists alike.
It was a very different story once I'd left Howden Reservoir behind to head up Howden Clough. From that point until I descended back down into the Derwent valley about six miles later I barely saw anyone and no one at all after I'd crossed over the Cut Gate path to head for Outer Edge.
According to the OS map Howden Edge stretches from just north of Derwent Edge all the way round to Horse Stone Naze and features a number of separate summits. The first one on my itinerary was High Stones, the highest point on Howden Edge as well as being the county top for South Yorkshire, as well as the Sheffield Unitary Authority.
Although the High Stones themselves were not the most impressive I saw on the walk the view from them was fantastic even on what was, at the time, a fairly grey and overcast morning. It was also very windy. The wind had been almost non-existant in the valley but it was lively to say the least on the exposed High Stones. On the subsequent walk north along the edge to Margery Hill it was all I could do to walk in a straight line and maintain my balance.
The top of Margery Hill was set a lot further back from the edge than High Stones so the view was not quite as good, it did however have the benefit of a nice white painted trig point, as did the next top - Outer Edge.
As far as Margery Hill I had enjoyed fairly good paths, having crossed over the Cut Gate path the conditions underfoot deteriorated markedly and some time was spent negotiating some rather moist areas. As I neared Outer Edge the ground began to firm up again and at last the sun began to break through the cloud. I did not linger long on Outer Edge as I had my sights set on my next destination - the Crow Stones.
The Crow Stones are one of the finest collections of sculpted rocks that I've yet come across in the Peak District. By this time the wind had calmed down a bit so I was able to indulge in a bit of scrambling on some of the larger rocks. At the same time I was able to enjoy a fine, if somewhat hazy, view south along the Derwent valley.
After eating some lunch at the Crow Stones I followed a thin trod to Stainery Clough Head. At this point it would have been easiest to make a beeline for Horse Stone Naze but instead I struck out north to find a faint path which I then followed west to the 514m spot height which represents the highest point in the Barnsley Unitary Authority and another Pennine county top.
In hill lists this top is usually called Hoar Stones despite the fact that the Hoar Stones themselves are actually to the south west on the Sheffield side of the boundary. After visiting the Hoar Stones rocks I then made my way to Horse Stone Naze, the final top of the day. Along the way I encountered a network of deep peat groughs which provided quite an entertaining challenge to navigate.
The summit of Horse Stone Naze is marked by the Horse Stone, a large split rock which had been visible hours before when I had first emerged out of Howden Clough. It proved to be fairly easy to scramble up on to and from it there were good views east back to Crow Stones as well as west to Bleaklow.
A steep descent along some more gritstone outcrops preceded the final drop back into the Derwent valley where a wide track followed the river all the way back to Slippery Stone bridge and thence back to King's Tree. I found this upper section of the River Derwent quite delightful.
I thoroughly enjoyed this walk and would definitely recommend the area to those who don't mind a bit of roughness underfoot and who wish to escape the more crowded areas of the Peak District.