Helen Moat explores some of the Peak’s most scenic skyline walks, rambles guaranteed to raise the spirit.

Great British Life: Bamford EdgeBamford Edge (Image: Helen Moat)

Bamford Edge and Stanage Edge

This almost eight-mile ramble on the skyline of Bamford Edge is simply stunning, taking in views of the Dark Peak’s most iconic landmarks.

On the return, you’ll get a different perspective of the Peak’s wonderful escarpments as you skirt the base of Stanage Edge littered with millstones – the symbol for the Peak District National Park.

Just before the 50 mile-per-hour signs on the outskirts of Bamford (in the direction of Ladybower Reservoir) turn right, then immediately left to park on Ashopton Drive.

Head back towards Bamford, taking the pathway between housing and a wide grassy verge that separates it from Ashopton Road.

Look out for an alleyway on your left, leading up through houses to fields. Trend left to cut across fields diagonally where it meets New Road.

Turn right here and climb to the point where New Road meets Leeside Road (Bamford Clough). At the time of writing the latter was closed to the public (an alternative route up to Bamford Edge).

Just beyond the junction and the layby (an alternative starting point if you want to avoid some of the ascent) climb over the stile on your left and take the lefthand pathway.

After a stiff climb, you’ll reach the top of the escarpment. Continue to Great Tor. The views towards Ladybower are second-to-none along the escarpment, a host of great summits – Crook Hill, Win Hill, Lose Hill, Back Tor and Mam Tor along with the Kinder Plateau in your sightlines.

After a while the path drops down and twists through a gully, following a dilapidated drystone wall before climbing up to a broad track.

Turn right onto the track. You’ll pass several grouse butts on this section of the walk. These are specially constructed shooting hides for grouse hunters.

At a meeting of these wider tracks, turn left to climb up towards Stanage Edge. The pathway narrows before reaching a path just below the edge (marked as a recreational path with green diamonds on the OS map). Turn right here.

This part of the route is littered with millstones. The doughnut-shaped gritstones, first hewn here in the18th century, were used to grind flour.

Millstone production was a thriving industry in the Dark Peak, but when white flour became popular the coarse gritstone was found wanting for the finer-grain flour. The industry collapsed virtually overnight.

Look out for a right turn just before the path meets the road. It cuts diagonally across fields to Long Causeway. Turn right again onto the lane, continuing straight on at Dennis Knoll.

Head up and over the rise. You’ll catch a glimpse of Hathersage’s church spire, poking above the hills on your left. Look out for North Lees Hall, another inspiration for Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.

Soon you’ll meet New Road again. From here (if you haven’t parked at the layby) it’s just a case of retracing your steps to your starting point.


Great British Life: Ramshaw RocksRamshaw Rocks (Image: Gary Wallis)

Ramshaw Rocks and Roaches

The Roaches is one of the most popular rambles in the Southwest Peak, and no wonder: the views are magnificent; the twisted and layered rock formations hugely atmospheric.

Across the valley, Ramshaw Rocks is altogether quieter, it’s spikey backbone of rocks like that of an iguana.

On this 6.3-mile ramble, the two high-level ridges are linked by a quiet valley of scattered farmsteads, the tinkle of Black Brook the only sound you’re likely to hear.

Starting out from the layby on Back Of The Rocks lane (beyond the sharp bend just off the A53), head up the path between the two stone posts to the beginning of Ramshaw Rocks.

The main path follows the Churnet Way, but there are many tempting side routes leading up to the contorted weathered rocks that are just begging to be explored.

At the end of the ridge, drop down to a lower path. Cross the hillside, then head up the rise, still part of the Churnet Way.

You’ll leave it behind where the long-distance path heads right over a field to the A53. Instead, drop down through the moorland to the hamlet of Hazel Barrow.

Emerging onto the road (Newstone Bridge), keep on the country lane, passing Corner Cottage on your right.

Follow the second signpost on the left of the road to drop down to the farm dwellings of Blackbank. You’ll need an OS map to negotiate the various twists and turns at this point.

From here the route meanders alongside Black Brook. A couple of signs point you in the direction of Roach End.

After you cross one of two footbridges (take your pick!) the path climbs away from the stream to rise to Roach End. You’ll pass one of the most isolated residential schools in the Peak District before reaching a path that takes you onto the Roaches.

There’s a steady ascent to the summit with its trigpoint (an Ethel, for collectors), flagstones aiding the ascent. Do stop to take in the glorious views.

The words from Jerusalem, ‘England’s green and pleasant land’ sprang to mind as I paused to gaze out at the verdant meadows of the Cheshire Plain, the rocky bluff of Gun Moor dropping down to the valley, a luminous green in the sunshine.

The outlook is superb all the way, the Wrekin, the Shropshire Hills and the north Welsh hills in the rambler’s sightline the length of the ridge.

Pass Doxey Pool, home to a malignant mermaid, or so they say. Soon a bird’s-eye view of Tittesworth Reservoir will greet you.

When you come to a crossroads of paths, go left to drop down to the base of Hen Cloud (if you have some energy left, you can scramble up it to bag another Ethel).

Otherwise, turn left, keeping the drystone wall on your right, and drop down to skirt round Well Farm. Head down its farm track to Hen Cloud Cottages with their shepherds’ huts.

Right before them go left, keeping the drystone wall on your right before descending to a footbridge over a stream. Follow the grassy path up and round to Naychurch Farm, following the red markers to skirt round the property.

Just before the A53, take the path cutting up through the moorland to the Back Of The Rocks lane again with its layby.


Great British Life: The famous sycamore tree on Oker Hill The famous sycamore tree on Oker Hill (Image: Helen Moat)

Oker Hill

For a gentler skyline (and valley floor) ramble, Oker Hill, sometimes written as Oaker Hill, offers lovely pastoral views of Derwent Valley and Wensley Dale.

If travelling from the south, the Derby to Matlock train will deliver you virtually to the starting point of this five–mile circular.

Just before Derwent Way (the Matlock bypass) meets the town bridge, take the path dropping down to the river, signposted Derwent Valley Heritage Way.

The pedestrian lights by the Railway sign will assist you across the road and onto the pathway. It follows the banks of Derwent River, passing new housing, shrubland, industry (disused and active) and out into the countryside.

Look out for a grassy path on your left leading up to the Oaker road. Turn right here and right again onto Aston Lane.

A short way up the lane, a wicket gate with its signed public footpath on the left takes you up through a field to a lane at the back of the hamlet. From here a pathway leads onto the ridge.

Ahead you’ll see a striking sycamore, an isolated tree on the hilltop. It has an interesting story, set out in a poem by none other than the famous wordsmith, William Wordsworth.

The poem relates the tale of William and Thomas Shore, two brothers who each planted a tree on Oker Hill.

One sought his fortune abroad but died in poverty and obscurity; his tree died. The other prospered, as did his tree: the magnificent sycamore still commanding the skyline on Oker Hill to this day.

Continue towards the end of the ridge and its trigpoint (633 ft). From here drop down to Kirby Lane and descend the B5057 to the village of Darley Bridge.

Over the river crossing, just before the Square and Compass (the perfect half-way point to fuel up), go through the squeeze stile and cross the field at Flatt Farm to the White Peak Loop trail.

Turn right to follow the path alongside the railway line. At the weekend or in the holidays, there’s a good chance of seeing one of the South Rowsley to Matlock steam trains puffing its way through the Derwent Valley.

Eventually, a narrow crossing takes you across the river between water and railway line. Here you’ll join the Derwent Valley Heritage Way again to retrace your steps back to your starting point.

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