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Derwent Edge Walk

HARD 9 reviews
#50 of 281 trails in

Derwent Edge Walk is a 15.4 kilometer loop trail located near Hope, Derbyshire, England that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching.

Distance: 15.4 km Elevation Gain: 528 m Route Type: Loop

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

A walk along the rooftop of the Derbyshire Peak District takes you from the Fairholmes visitor centre by Ladybower Reservoir, along the side of Derwent reservoir and a climb to Derwent Edge that runs parallel and about 300m above Derwent and Ladybower Reservoirs. Derwent Edge is one of the string of exposed gritstone escarpments that run from the top of the Derwent Valley all the way to Chatsworth and beyond. This is the Dark Peak of the Peak District and forms a stark contrast to the more gentle, yet no less dramatic, limestone valleys of the White Peak that are far below and to the south of Derwent Edge. What makes Derwent Edge particularly special for me are the rocky tors that are sprinkled along the route. These weathered gritstone outcrops form all manner of wonderful shapes, with equally colourful names - Salt Cellar, Cakes of Bread and Wheelstones. It is difficult and even unfair to select favourites, but the walk along Derwent Edge is truly wonderful. It's a good long walk and high enough that you can feel the air and space around you. Stanage Edge is my personal favourite, but Derwent Edge has a completely different character to it. It is higher, and consequently a little more desolate. It is a little quieter as it takes a bit more effort to get there, and there is simply no comparison with Stanage for climbing, so it's mostly walkers who venture up to Derwent Edge, the tors here being more suitable for standing on and admiring the view or maybe a little bouldering; no serious climbing here. It is not as easy to get to as Stanage and takes somewhat longer to walk up; it is not a quick late afternoon or evening stop-off for a quick walk or climb after walk; it's a bit more serious than that. Much of the High Peak area is now designated Open Access Land so footpaths do not have to be adhered to. But with such access comes a responsibility to look after the area so appropriate care should always be taken when exploring the area. The National Trust is putting a huge investment into managing the area - footpaths, walls, buildings and moorland but they need our help to maintain the environment so please treat it with respect. It is worth remembering that paths across the High Peak have been here for centuries as packhorse trails taking lead and wool across the hills to cities such as Manchester and Sheffield. Just what would it have been like to hike across these moorlands with primitive mountain and weather proofing gear? The reservoirs far below Derwent Edge were constructed in two phases. The first, from 1901 to 1917 saw the Howden and Derwent Dams completed. It was here during World War II that the 617 Squadron, led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, practiced their raids that would lead to the destructive raid on the German Ruhr valley dams in May 1943. It is still sometimes possible to see preserved Lancaster bombers flying down the Derwent Valley, quite an awesome sight and sound. The third reservoir, Ladybower, was built from 1935 to 1945. It is the latter that meant that the villages of Derwent and Ashopton were flooded although some of the remains of both can occasionally be seen when the reservoir level is particularly low. The views from Derwent Edge are simply fantastic; the panoramic views across a large swathe of the Peak District are a joy and the views extend across several distant counties. Make sure you take some binoculars with you! The rock formations that can be seen along the Edge are worthy of much exploration; they are at their best sprinkled with snow but as noted above this makes the area a little more inaccessible and a challenge to get to. Over the last few years the amount of snow has been relatively light and there are very few days of the year when snow covers the area, even the very highest ground (January 2010 proving an exception!) But when there is snow it is worth every bit of effort to get there and it takes on the appearance of another world. The Upper Derwent Valley is superb for wildlife - Merlins and Ring Ouzels can occasionally be seen but many other birds are regularly seen including Red Grouse, Golden Plover and Curlews. The mountain hare can also often be seen, easily identified in its white winter coat. Evolution has changed the hare's coat to white against what were once very harsh and largely white winters. It is now easy to spot the hare against the browns and greys of the mountains. It is equally important to look behind you as where you are going when walking along Derwent Edge. The views are impressive from almost any direction all the way along and it is well worth while walking the opposite route to experience the views in reverse. As with any of these edges, the best light is in the evening as the sun starts to decend and light up the edges with a warm evening light. Whenever possible it is also worth waiting to see the afterglow and later to experience the moors.

hiking
30 days ago

very good walk. a tough uphill climb for a good mile to get you going. once you've got to the little round trig at the lost lad its all pretty much straight forward and the views are stunning along derwent edge.

mountain biking
1 month ago

Trail is perfect for mtb. Challenging but worth it

hiking
no shade
1 month ago

Great walk. No footpaths at times but good variety of different terraines. Highly recommend.

hiking
2 months ago

I've been doing this particular round since the early 90's, never get tired of the amazing views and scenery, just beautiful.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

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