Buxton Circular via Axe Edge Moor and Three Shires Head walk

The vast Axe Edge Moor, the heads of 5 famous Peak District rivers, the popular and scenic Three Shires Head pools and waterfalls, disused quarries and some fine far views


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date Option Post # Weather
Mon, 05-Sep-22 Monday Walk - Buxton Circular via Axe Edge Moor and Three Shires Head [Buxton Trip] [New Walk] 7 sunny and warm with late on clouds
Length: 27.0 km (16.8 mi) [For a shorter or longer walk see below Walk Options]
Ascent/Descent: 687m
Net Walking Time: 7 hours
Toughness: 8 out of 10
Meet outside Buxton Train Station at 09.00 hours (or join along the route).
[Buses for shortcuts: line 58 at 09.26 from the train station and 9.28 from Market Place. Note: as of today, line 16 does not operate from Buxton anymore, and the replacement service (line 108) does not have a morning service!]
You rise steeply out of the spa town of Buxton up the now wooded Grin Low, a formerly heavily quarried hill, with its hilltop folly, Solomon’s Temple, and a viewing platform. Continue through pastures higher up to the vast upland Axe Edge Moor, source of five of the most famous Peak District rivers: the Wye, Dove, Manifold, Dane and Goyt. The tops of all those valleys will be visited. The moor crossings are largely along broad grassy or gravel paths, but not without one stretch with ‘proper’ moorland terrain: bouncy to boggy, at times ill defined, paths passing groughs, cloughs and peat hags. Various remnants of historic mining activities are passed, some quite picturesque. On a good day the moor provides for fantastic views into the surrounding valleys, to neighbouring ridges and quarries and into the Cheshire Plain.
From the top of the Dove Valley, you continue to a café in Flash Bar and then to Flash, England’s highest village, to continue down into the very scenic Upper Dane Valley.
Follow a rough track around Turn Edge to the very popular Three Shires Head, the meeting of four former packhorse routes by Panniers Bridge, with several waterfalls and surrounded by high mountains at the meeting point of three County boundaries. You ascend along the Blackclough tributary up to the base of Cheeks Hill and follow it around to some large disused quarries and a former colliery, where you cross the Dane to begin the long ascent between Dane Bower and Whetstone Ridge to the Cat & Fiddle Road, the watershed to the Upper Goyt Valley.
Cross the quiet moorland valley with long views out to Kinder Scout and Bleaklow, along a former turnpike road from Macclesfield, now a rough track. One last ascent lies ahead, to the pass separating the Goyt from the Wye Valley, and the descent back into Buxton is all that’s left to do.
Walk Options
Lots of options (see the webpage or the pdf for details), they basically boil down to the following:
Buses to shorten the route (check the route map for the location of the stops);
a map-led shortcut;
modest Extensions.
Elevenses: Flash Bar Café and Shop in Quarnford Flash Bar (10.5 km/6.5 mi into the walk). Open 08.00-16.00. Well stocked and with some outdoor seating.
Lunch: Picnic.
Tea: The Cat & Fiddle on Buxton New Road (7.1 km from the end of the walk); numerous options in Buxton, either around the Market Place, or close to the Train Station. Check the webpage of the pdf for details.
For walk directions, maps, height profiles, photos and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.387
  • 22-Aug-22

    Update: the morning bus times (for shortcuts) have been added, the elevenses place has been checked: it will still be open for business on the day; the 58 from The Cat & Fiddle runs hourly on xx.36 in the afternoon.

  • 05-Sep-22

    Plenty of departures last night plus some people preferring sightseeing to walking, so only 5 left standing, so to speak, initially at least at the train station. 1 walker would be taking the bus shortcut and start at Ladmanlow, 1 other that was supposed to join us wasn't there, so off we went. It was a walk with three stops for nourishments: elevenses (at 12) at the extremely lovely Flash Bar Stores and Café. The missing walker turned up there belatedly, just as we were leaving. Lunch at the Three Shires Head and "tea" at The Cat & Fiddle.

    At Three Shires Head, the bus shortcutter suddenly appeared out of the water, having had a swim/soak, but then moved on, as we had only just started our lunch. All were united at the C&F, including the 7th walker, who had hitched a hike. 4 then walked on to Buxton, the rest taking the bus to town.

    The walk? Glorious, and a fitting end to the sequence of walks we've had, as we could look back at almost all the highlights seen in the past four days.

    The weather? Glorious. A proper thunderstorm had passed over Buxton during the night, but it was all sweetness and light during the day: sunny and warm with late on clouds

    Downtown Buxton was reached just before 6.

    Birds: the usual, plus a couple of rheas on a farm.