Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head) walk

From a remote bus stop onto one of England’s few great, untamed wildernesses: Bleaklow. Descend either across moors and Derwent River's Head, or Westend Valley.

Trig Point on Westend Moor, with Bleaklow beyond SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head)

Trig Point on Westend Moor, with Bleaklow beyond

SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head)

05-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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The Path across Bleaklow SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head)

The Path across Bleaklow

SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head)

05-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Bleaklow Stones SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head)

Bleaklow Stones

SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head)

05-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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The Path through the Groughs along the Watershed SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head)

The Path through the Groughs along the Watershed

SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head)

05-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Deer Holes and Lands Side, Upper Derwent Valley SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head)

Deer Holes and Lands Side, Upper Derwent Valley

SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head)

05-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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‘Big Daddy’, Barrow Stones; Westend Valley beyond SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head) [Grinah Stones and Westend Valley Ending]

‘Big Daddy’, Barrow Stones; Westend Valley beyond

SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head) [Grinah Stones and Westend Valley Ending]

22-Oct-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Westend Valley towards Grinah Grain SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head) [Grinah Stones and Westend Valley Ending]

Westend Valley towards Grinah Grain

SWC Walk 350 - Fairholmes Circular (via Bleaklow and Derwent Head) [Grinah Stones and Westend Valley Ending]

22-Oct-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Length

27.3 km (16.9 mi), with 693m ascent/descent. For a shorter or longer walk see below Walk Options.

Toughness

8 out of 10 to 10 out of 10, depending on weather and route finding.
With 7-9 hours walking time. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 14 hours.

Walk Notes

Quite possibly the wildest and remotest of the fully written up SWC walks, this route leads from a remote bus stop on the famous Derwent Reservoirs through woods onto a grassy boggy ridge past Alport Castles, Britain’s largest inland landslip area with its fascinating rock formations and piles of rocky debris, to one of England’s few great, untamed wildernesses: Bleaklow. Bleak by name, bleak by nature, it is famed for its extensive, wild moorland and is home to two of the three highest points in the Peak District. Despite its reputation as an endless, featureless mass of peat bogs, Bleaklow is quite magnificent though. Its contours are more rounded than Kinder's, but it is less accessible and more remote with fewer paths and features aiding navigation, basically an often-pathless wilderness – rough, boggy, quiet, wild and lonely. But it also has some picturesque gritstone rock formations, worn into shapes by wind and water and plenty of scenic river valleys running off it.
The route across Bleaklow follows the Pennine watershed across the heart of the unforgiving plateau, with wide vistas across the Dark Peak area and to the North, before descending through the very pretty Upper Derwent Valley past Howden and Derwent Reservoirs back to the start.

Note: The stretch along the large – and partly pathless – peatland plateau requires excellent navigational skills and very good stamina, as any divergence from the best line requires much higher levels of energy, due to the deep peaty groughs, some watery holes and boggy ground either side of (and sometimes on) the best route.

Walk Options

An Alternative Descent Route from Bleaklow Stones avoids most of the often-pathless crossing of the high moors and leads via Grinah Stones, Barrow Stones, Round Hill, Ridgewalk Moor & the Westend Valley to the road by Howden Reservoir and thence to Fairholmes. This is rated 7/10, with 24.8 km/15.4 mi distance and 634m ascent.

Maps

OS Explorer: OL1 (The Peak District – Dark Peak Area)
OS Landranger: 110 (Sheffield & Huddersfield)
Harvey Superwalker XT25: Peak District Central and North
Harvey British Mountain Map: Dark Peak

Travel

Derwent, opposite Fairholmes Bus Stop, map reference SK 171 893, is 19 km west north west of Sheffield City Centre, 237 km north west of Charing Cross, 214m above sea level, and in Derbyshire. It is currently not served by any bus service useful for this walk!

Saturday Walkers’ Club: This walk can’t currently be done as a public transport-based walk.

Lunch

Picnic.

Tea

Derwent Café Fairholmes Visitor Centre, Bamford, Hope Valley, Derbyshire, S33 0AQ (01433 650 953). The Derwent Café in the Peak District Visitor Centre is essentially a hot and cold food kiosk with a separate entrance to the VC, and it is often open a bit longer than the VC.

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By Car

Start Fairholmes, Bamford, Hope Valley, S33 0AQ Map Directions

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Help

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

Version

Nov-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