Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back walk

Remote and quiet Upper Dove Valley, combining extreme natural beauty with the more esoteric beauty of industrial sites. Go over or past the very unique Dragon's Back

Chrome Hill lower ridge, Parkhouse Hill, Hitter Hill, High Wheeldon, Upper Dove Valley SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back

Chrome Hill lower ridge, Parkhouse Hill, Hitter Hill, High Wheeldon, Upper Dove Valley

SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back

28-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Upper Dove Valley to Axe Edge, from High Wheeldon SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back [Extension via High Wheeldon]

Upper Dove Valley to Axe Edge, from High Wheeldon

SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back [Extension via High Wheeldon]

28-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Parkhouse Hill and Chrome Hill, from pasture rising up Hitter Hill SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back

Parkhouse Hill and Chrome Hill, from pasture rising up Hitter Hill

SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back

28-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Parkhouse Hill, from pasture across River Dove SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back

Parkhouse Hill, from pasture across River Dove

SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back

28-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Harpur Hill Quarry, quarryface, from pasture on Grin Low SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back

Harpur Hill Quarry, quarryface, from pasture on Grin Low

SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back

28-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Harpur Hill Quarry - from top of wood south of Fern House SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back

Harpur Hill Quarry - from top of wood south of Fern House

SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back

28-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Toxic water below Countess Cliff, cow in foreground SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back

Toxic water below Countess Cliff, cow in foreground

SWC 386 - Buxton Circular via the Dragon's Back

28-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk386 51474728197

Length

26.1 km (16.2 mi), with 785m ascent/descent. For a shorter walk see below Walk Options.

Toughness

8 out of 10, with 7 hours walking time.

Walk Notes

This is an exciting expedition from the renowned spa town of Buxton into the remote and quiet Upper Dove Valley in the limestone area of the White Peak area, which combines extreme natural beauty with the somewhat more esoteric beauty of former or active industrial sites. Most certainly, one of a kind.
The outbound route leads to (and over) a string of magnificent hills with very fine views, including High Edge and Hitter Hill, but most impressive is the stretch along the iconic Chrome and Parkhouse Hills, former underwater atolls created about 350 million years ago, whose distinctive ridges appear as a line of pinnacles and resemble the 'plates' along the spine of a stegosaurus dinosaur. Which is why the hills are often referred to as the ‘Dragon’s Back’. So beautiful in fact that the return route passes them again, but from a different angle…
The more traditional dome-shaped High Wheeldon hill, with its surround views up and down Dove Dale, can be conquered on an optional extension just before lunch. Another magnificent stretch in the afternoon leads up through a quiet and tight dry valley: Dowel Dale.
In between Buxton and the Dove Valley, similarly iconic (if not similarly beautiful) active or disused industrial sites are passed, from laboratories storing and investigating hazardous substances and explosives to assorted disused quarries now housing racecourses or serving as exhibition centres or climbing venues, while Harpur Hill Quarry also has the strange attraction of a toxic lake locally known as the ‘Blue Lagoon’ to show for.

Walk Options

Buses
· Bus Lines 185, 186, 442 and Transpeak 3 stop at Harpur Hill, Parks Inn, a 300m downhill walk away from the outbound route at Grin Low Road (cut 3.2 km and 80m ascent); between them they provide for a frequent service Mon-Sat and an hourly one on Sun/BH.
· Bus Line 442 (Buxton – Ashbourne, 5 buses per day Mon-Fri, 7 on Sat) stops at all three lunch pub locations: in Earl Sterndale, Crowdecote and Longnor.
· The bus stop at Harpur Hill, Parks Inn mentioned above, with frequent service, is directly on the return route (cut 3.5 km and negligible ascent).

An Alternative Route at Chrome Hill leads along the flank of the hill rather than over the top of the ridge.
A couple of Alternative Routes at Parkhouse Hill lead over the top of the ridge rather than over the saddle between the two tops of the hill or along the flank of the hill. They require Grade 1 scrambling skills and a head for heights. These alternative routes are not recommended in wet weather, as the rock will be slippery.
Cut out the diversion from Hitter Hill through Earl Sterndale and past its pub (cut 500m; at the moment the pub is closed anyway).
An Extension just before lunch leads over High Wheeldon, a distinctive dome-shaped hill overlooking the Dove Valley both upstream to the Dragon’s Back and downstream further into the White Peak area (add 1.7 km and 140m ascent).

Maps

OS Explorer: OL24 (The Peak District – White Peak Area)
OS Landranger: 119 (Buxton & Matlock)
Harvey Superwalker XT25: Peak District South and Central (only for the urban bits in Buxton)
Harvey British Mountain Map: White Peak

Travel

Buxton Station, map reference SK 059 737, is 22 km southeast of Manchester, 299m above sea level and in Derbyshire. Buxton Station is the terminus of the Buxton Line from Manchester, with two trains per hour Mon-Sat daytime and one per hour else. Journey time is 60 mins from Manchester and ca. three hours from London (chg. at Stockport). A faster connection can be obtained by taking a train to Macclesfield and bus 58 to Buxton.

Saturday Walkers’ Club: The walk is doable as a daywalk from London with a train no later than 07.20 hours.

Lunch

The Quiet Woman Earl Sterndale, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 0BX (01298 83211). The Quiet Woman is located 10.6 km (6.6 mi) into the walk. The name of the pub and the image of a beheaded woman on its pub signage, are reputedly concerning ‘chattering Charteris’, a 12th century scold who was never content unless she was nagging her publican husband and making his life a misery. When she began to nag and complain in her sleep, too, he cut off her head with an axe. The motto on the inn sign, “Soft words turneth away wrath”, seems ironic. This pub is currently closed.
The Packhorse Inn Crowdecote, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 0DB (01298 83618). The Packhorse Inn is located 13.2 km (8.2 mi) into the walk.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese High Street, Longnor, Buxton, Staffordshire, SK17 0NS (01298 83218). The Cheshire Cheese is located 14.6 km (9.0 mi) into the walk.
Longnor Fish and Chip Shop and Tea Room Market Square, Longnor, Buxton, Staffordshire, SK17 0NT (01298 83317). The F & C Shop and Tea Room is located 14.6 km (9.0 mi) into the walk.
Cobbles Coffee Shop Bank House, Market Place, Longnor, Buxton, Staffordshire, SK17 0NT (01298 83166). Cobbles is located 14.6 km (9.0 mi) into the walk.

Tea

Cobbles Coffee Shop As above. Cobbles is located 11.5 km (7.1 mi) from the end of the walk.
The Parks Inn 2 Burlow Road, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK11 9JD (01298 72827). The Parks Inn is located 3.5 km (2.2 mi) from the end of the walk.
Numerous options in Buxton, either around the Market Place, or close to the Train Station. Some of the ones on the route are mentioned in the pdf.

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Start SK17 6AQ Map Directions

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National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Sep-21 Thomas G

Copyright © Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only. www.walkingclub.org.uk/site/license.shtml

Walk Directions  

Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk