Friday, 30 March 2012

A Sunny Walk on the Howden Moors

Distance: 22.5km; Ascent: 820m; Mostly sunny with a cold light wind; with Kim

I had managed to book today off work so I could enjoy the current spell of sunny weather that we were having.  Kim was also off work too, so we decided it would be good to go walking somewhere together.  I had been keen to explore the moorland around the upper Derwent valley for a while and today seemed like an ideal opportunity given the lack of rain in the last week so hopefully the ground would be pretty dry.

View up the River Derwent from Slippery Stones
As it was a weekday we were able to drive all the way to the road end at Kings Tree near the head of Howden Reservoir and it was surprisingly chilly when we got out of the car!  We set off walking just before 10:30am, just as the sun was starting to break through the clouds.  After following the forest track up to Slippery Stones we picked up a path alongside the River Derwent.

River Derwent
After a couple of a kilometres walking we left the path and briefly followed a small stream northwards before steeply ascending up onto the windy moorland.  We picked a way through the deep heather to eventually ascend up to the summit of Horse Stone Naze (Dewey), which was crowned with an interesting gritstone summit tor.

Horse Stone Naze summit tor
As it was almost midday, we considered stopping here for lunch but it was quite windy and the only sheltered spot was in a peat bog!  Therefore we headed east towards some boulders that looked likely to provide some shelter, where we stumbled upon a sort of cave between some boulders that looked like a possible bivy spot.  Shortly afterwards we stopped for lunch in the sunshine in the lee of some rocks and around here we spotted a mountain hare, the first of four that we would see today.  We also saw many, many red grouse on the moors and a few small lizards too.

Crow Stones
After a reasonably leisurely lunch, we continued east across the moorland and soon picked up a vague path up to the strangely shaped Crow Stones.

Crow Stones
From the Crow Stones we headed east across the almost flat moorland to reach the trig point on Outer Edge, which had been raised up presumably so the surveyors could get a better view.

Outer Edge trig point
We continued across the moorland to the south-east to reach the trig point on Margery Hill and soon afterwards a small tarn.  Around here we saw our first other walkers of the day, several hours after we set off.

Trig point on Margery Hill
Small moorland tarn south of Margery Hill
We followed the path southward across the moor, whilst admiring the views across the large expanse of moor towards Bleaklow, to reach the small cairn marking the summit of Howden Edge / High Stones (Dewey).

Summit of Howden Edge / High Stones
Here we had a decision to make: did we head back to the car now, which seemed a bit early as it was only 2pm, or did we press on to Back Tor.  Given it had turned into such a nice afternoon, we decided on the latter and picked a route down Gravy Clough to cross Abbey Brook before picking up a good path and ascending up to the trig point on the summit of Back Tor (Dewey).

Back Tor trig point
After admiring the extensive views from the summit, including towards Sheffield in the distance, we decided it was time to descend.  We followed a good path past the viewpoint at Lost Lad and on down to meet Derwent Reservoir near Abbey Brook.  The forest track made for good progress as we headed back to the car, although we did decide to save ourselves a kilometre by crossing the River Derwent just above the reservoir instead of pressing on to the bridge, and we reached the car soon after 5pm after an excellent day's walk.

Upper end of Howden Reservoir


  1. Beautiful day for it, and a good walk. Last time I was on Howden Edge I got hailed on - June 10th!

    1. Yes it was a lovely day, and nice to explore somewhere new, although I had previously been up Back Tor on a cold, misty winter's day some years ago.