Peak District Walks
Dead Edge & Snailsden Edge
Date: 27th September 2014
Distance: 10.1 miles
Ascent: 1077 feet
Time: 4 hours 50 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE152020
A fairly rough walk to the seldom visited tops of Dead Edge, Britland Edge Hill and Snailsden Edge in the far north-eastern corner of the Peak District.
Route Summary: Winscar Reservoir - Shepley Ings - Upper Grip Hill - Wike Head - Dead Edge End - Withens Edge - Britland Edge Hill - Baillie Causeway Moss - Ramsden Clough - Snailsden Pike End - Snailsden Edge - Wetshaw Edge - Harden Reservoir - Winscar Reservoir
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: The area covered in this walk, in the far north-eastern corner of the Peak District, is one that I've been planning on visiting for some time. While none of the three 'summits' on the walk quite manage to exert enough prominence to appear on any hill lists I always thought it looked an interesting place to explore away from the more popular destinations in the Dark Peak.
Starting from the southernmost of two car parks at Winscar Reservoir my initial plan had been to follow the path shown on the map contouring around the western edge of the reservoir before heading up on to Dead Edge via the shooter's track in Little Grain Clough. Unfortunately the path disappeared soon after passing above the sailing club and I found myself embroiled in a desperate battle with the thick tussocky grass of Shepley Ings.
Spotting the unmistakeable silhouette of an air shaft up to my left I abandoned my original plan and made a beeline for it. Fortunately as I got closer to it the going underfoot began to get easier. From the large circular air shaft, situated above the Woodhead Tunnels and decorated with a painting of an old diesel train, a good track continued west above the line of the tunnels. Further along the track I passed one and later another concrete pillar. Trig-like in appearance they would have originally been used as part of the surveying operation when the tunnels were constructed.
Shortly after passing the second pillar I turned right on a thin path and made my way northwards to reach the fence at Wike Head. It was then a reasonably straightforward job of following the fence to the trig point on Dead Edge End. Despite September being recorded as the driest since 1910 there was still a lot of moisture on the ground. I imagine that after a wet spell this section could be quite soggy. For some reason I wasn't really expecting Dead Edge to be a particularly compelling viewpoint so I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was, particularly west to the far end of Longdendale.
From the trig point I continued following the fence to enjoy further views from Withens Edge. By this point the blue sky at the start of the walk had given way to cloudy skies. However I still wasn't expecting the sudden change for the worse as I negotiated the peat hags at the head of Withens Clough. The arrival of drizzle led to a deterioration in visibility and so I hunkered down in my waterproof and ate my lunch hoping that by the time I'd finished it would have blown over.
Instead conditions continued to worsen and by the time I'd finished my lunch hill fog had descended over the moors. So it was that when I reached the top Britland Edge Hill, the highest point of the walk, the only thing to see was the fence (so much for the Met Office's 0% chance of hill fog!). With nothing else to see I turned around and retraced my steps back along the fence.
My next point of call was the steep-sided head of Ramsden Clough. To reach this I had to leave the safety of the fence and cross the pathless Bailie Causeway Moss in visibility down to about 50 feet. I actually quite enjoyed the navigtional challenge and using only my map and my innate sense of direction I managed to arrive above Ramsden Clough only a bit further along than the point I was aiming for.
I'd been looking forward to the views from Ramsden Clough and I managed to time my arrival almost perfectly as the fog blew over and patches of sunshine began to break through the cloud. The short walk along the 'edge' above the clough was the finest section of the walk. Not only were the views down into the clough superb but I could also see the transmitters on Holme Moss and Emsley Moor, Castle Hill above Huddersfield and West Nab above Meltham.
Leaving Ramsden Clough behind I followed a good path on to Snailsden Pike End and then contoured around the upper slopes of the hill before making a short detour to reach the second trig point of the walk. Continuing along Snailsden Edge I then enjoyed a gradual descent with superb views of Winscar Reservoir. Eventually reaching the reservoir itself it was then a nice stroll back to the car park via the reservoir's dam.
Despite the changeable weather I really enjoyed this walk. With the exception of Shepley Ings at the start, which could probably have been avoided, the going underfoot was easier than expected. Having said that it still wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea which is just as well as it made it nice and quiet - away from the reservoir I didn't see a single person.