Derwent Edge from Fairholmes, Peak District, Derbyshire
Distance: 8.25 miles / 13.25 kilometers
Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Map: OS Explorer OL01 - The Peak District, Dark Peak Area
The walk from the Fairholmes Visitor Centre and along Derwent Edge is just over 8 miles and very picturesque with some very lovely views of the valley. The route is generally easy going, with a few ascents which are moderate in difficulty, the path is well defined and paved with flag stones in many parts. There is plenty of free parking in a series of roadside lay-by's under the trees just before the Fairholmes Visitor Centre. There are toilet facilities at the National Trust's Fairholmes Visitor Centre, which has a resident population of some very friendly ducks.
Upon leaving the centre and taking the path to walk beneath the very impressive dam outflow with its two gothic towers, the outflow was unfortunately dry on this visit, after climbing the steps to the top of the east tower, I got out of breath and needed a puff of my ventolin to relieve my asthma. At the top turned left to join the path along the eastern shore of the Upper Derwent Reservoir which was very low. The leisurely walk to the Abbey Tip Plantation gave me a chance to catch my breath.
We were very fortunate to have glorious sunshine in the morning as we ascended the valley near Abbey Bank, and headed to the cairn at Lost Lad, then on to Back Tor. This is a highly recommended walk, not just for the views of the beautiful landscape, but also for the magnificent variety of grit stone rock formations sculptured by the weather. Which include two weird shaped rocks called the Cakes Of Bread and the Salt Cellar rock, and then its on to the Wheel Stones.
The larger rock formations are well worth an exploration and a bit of scrambling. The carving from the weather have created some fascinating shapes, and amazing little bowls resembling washbowls. It can get very windy at the top, but plenty of shelter can be found amongst the rocks for a coffee and a bite to eat, before continuing along the flag stoned path on the top of Derwent Edge, the views of the valley and the surrounding are are magnificant.
There had been some bracken burning which added to the patchwork of colours. Then descended through bracken paths to Grindle Clough then along the shoreline path of Ladybower Reservoir returning us back to Fairholmes.
There were a few moorland grouse (I think) around, but they would let me get close enough for a decent shot, I guess they don't understand I only to shoot pictures or try to!. The silence can sometimes interrupted by low flying aircraft which were fascinating to watch and give them a wave as they passed below us. Unfortunately my photographic skills didn't manage to capture any of them in focus or without chopping bits off them! We saw a couple of RAF black helicopters and a civilian black and yellow helicopter. I am looking forward to returning in the spring and summer.