Derwent Edge from Fairholmes

Salt Cellar on Derwent Edge

The Derwent Valley is a beautiful valley despite the intrusions of mankind. This walk starts at the Fairholmes visitor centre in the heart of the Derwent Valley. The walk passes under the stunning Gothic style dam before taking an easy stroll alongside the shore of the Derwent Reservoir. A quiet ascent via Abbey Brook Clough will then take you to the more familiar wild Dark Peak moorland. Back Tor is bagged before an eye opening stroll along the top of Derwent Edge which has many fascinating weather gritstone rocks including the impressive Salt Cellar and Wheel Stones. The views from the escarpment edge of the wide open valley are awesome. The Derwent Valley was even used as a low flying practice area for the RAF's 617 Squadron, or as they are better known The Dambusters. The walk descends through bracken paths to Grindle Clough before heading back along Ladybower Reservoir and back to Fairholmes. During drought seasons you may be lucky enough to see the remains of the village of Derwent that was flooded for the reservoir. At the visitor centre and the valley there are some good resources of information on the history of the Derwent Valley well worth reading.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from the Fairholmes Visitor Centre car park at grid reference SK 173 893. To reach Fairholmes, turn off the A57 Snake Pass road at Ladybower Reservoir, following the brown signs for Derwent Valley Dams.
  2. Fairholmes is the main hub of all activities in the Derwent Valley. It was originally a farm in the old Derwent Valley community that was sacrificed for the building of the Ladybower, Derwent and Howden dams and reservoirs.
  3. These days Fairholmes is home to a fantastic visitors centre with toilets, shop and cafe. The car park isn't too expensive compared to most places and the facilities are excellent.
  4. From Fairholmes follow the signs for Derwent Dam and after following the track along side the outflow from the dam you will eventually be staring at its huge stone wall with gothic towers on either side.
  5. The Derwent Dam is one of three built in the valley to provide water to the cities and towns of the North and East Midlands. Derwent dam was finished in 1916. The dams were built using local millstone grit blocks and designed with a charming Victorian gothic style. The full story of the dams and the dramatic changes the valley went through in the early 20th century can be read about in the visitor centre at Fairholmes.
  6. Follow the path as it passes the front of the dam wall to the eastern tower. Ascend the steps to the right of the tower to join the bridleway that follows the eastern bank of the Derwent Reservoir.
  7. The track crosses Hollin Clough and Walker's Clough. When you reach the Abbey Tip plantation the path splits. Here you need to follow the path leading off to the right up through the forest.
  8. Follow this track up to a gate which heads up on to Little Howden Moor and is sign posted by a small National Trust sign. Incidentally if you happen to get to the bridge that crosses Abbey Brook then you have gone too far so simply follow your footsteps back about two hundred metres and find the Little Howden Moor track.
  9. The wide track heads up on to Little Howden Moor giving great views out to the left over the deep clough of Abbey Brook. After turning right and heading south it reaches a fence on the left.
  10. Follow the fence for two hundred and fifty metres and you will reach a stile. Cross the stile and head east. After just over a hundred metres the path will cross a small stream as it rounds the top of a small clough.
  11. Continue in the easterly direction with the path now following an old fence and heading in the direction of Lost Lad Hillend. Here on the open moorland keep an eye out for Grouse and Mountain Hares.
  12. Once you reach Lost Lad Hill End there is a short steep climb to reach the actual summit of Lost Lad. On the summit there is a large cairn and a toposcope memorial erected by the Sheffield Clarion Ramblers.
  13. The hill of Lost Lad gets its name and its impressive cairn from a story of a shepherd boy who got lost and lost his life on the moors in a severe blizzard. It wasn't until the spring that another shepherd passing by found the lost shepherd's body and by it written on a rock was the words "Lost Lad".
  14. From the summit of Lost Lad you can see the next target the highest point of the walk, Back Tor. To reach Back Tor follow the obvious footpath in a south easterly direction for around two hundred and fifty metres.
  15. The 538M high summit of Back Tor has some very impressive grit stone formations and its summit trig point isn't the easiest I've climbed to as it is sat on top of the grit stone rock formations so requires a bit of scrambling to reach.
  16. The views from Back Tor are quite unique, there aren't many places in the Peak you can see so many of its highest features. The Great Ridge, Derwent Valley Reservoirs, Stanage Edge, Bleaklow and Kinder Plateau can all be seen from this viewpoint.
  17. From Back Tor head south along the ridge path in the direction of Derwent Edge. After just under a kilometre you will pass the two bizarre looking rocks known as the Cakes Of Bread.
  18. Continue heading south along the path as it now skirts the top of Derwent Edge. After four hundred metres the path crosses the bump of Dovestone Tor. In the near distance now looking south, the most recognisable of all Derwent Edge's features come into view.
  19. Five hundred metres south of Dovestone Tor is the incredible looking Salt Cellar stone. This fantastic piece of weather sculpted grit stone stands proud and quite lonely above Ladybower reservoir and gets its name from its visual similarity with a salt cellar.
  20. Head south to south east along the path and after passing White Tor you will come across probably the most awesome grit stone rock structure on Derwent Edge. These are the Wheel Stones. The locals prefer the name Coach and Horses as from down in the valley below it looks like a stage coach and horses on the hill.
  21. Head south from the Wheel Stones and after five hundred metres you will reach a junction of paths. Take the path to the right in a westerly direction and head back down towards Ladybower Reservoir through a hill of deep bracken.
  22. The path then joins a bridleway that leads down the side of a forestry plantation until it reaches the old barns at Grindle Clough, one being that old it still has its 1647AD dated lintel on the outside.
  23. The path goes through a gate and a steep slippery section of path until it reaches the road. Head north along the reservoir road for a mile or so to get back to Howden Dam then Fairholmes at the start of the walk.
  24. For refreshments after the walk there is the cafe at Fairholmes. If you are heading west you could stop at the Snake Pass Inn. If heading East there is the Ladybower Inn. If heading south via Bamford check out the Yorkshire Bridge Inn just before Bamford.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL1 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 110 Map Click to buy Collins Ramblers Guide Peak District Click to buy Pathfinder Guides Peak District

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.