A Snowy Burbage Loop

We made the most of the first real snowfall of the winter to get out into the Burbage Valley, taking in the edge, Higger Tor and Carl Wark. It’s our first original route for the site, and it’s a cracker (if we say so ourselves) – fairly easy on the legs, but with some fantastic views. It’s great for families, with lots of places for kids to explore.

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Route Map, Burbage Loop

Distance – 5 miles

OS Map – OL1 Dark Peak and OL24 White Peak

Online Map – You can see a zoomable version of the route map at this link.

Parking – Longshaw Estate (£ – recommended), roadside parking by the Fox House Inn or a Peak District National Park car park at Upper Burbage Bridge. Parking at the Fox House Inn for customers only.

Route Guide:

Head to the Northern edge of the National Trust car park, where you’ll find a footpath heading through the trees. This leads shortly to a gate out onto the A6187 at the Fox House Inn. Cross here, passing by the pub, keeping to the left-hand verge. Take the stile in the wall to your left, just after the pub, taking in the views over the moor to the plateau of Higger Tor in the distance.

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View to Higger Tor from the A6187, by the Fox House Inn.

Follow the wall to your left, and keep heading straight towards Higger Tor after the wall ends – there is a fairly distinct path that

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Crucifix carved into a boulder on Burbage Rocks

leads all the way to the beginning of the path along the top Burbage Rocks. When you reach this, turn right to head along the top of the edge. Burbage Rocks (or Burbage Edge) is popular with climbers, and offers great views down the valley towards Longshaw. The valley is currently the subject of a landscape restoration project, removing a non-native conifer plantation to bring back native moorland and woodlands to the area. There are several small abandoned quarries cut into the rockface. Keep an eye out too for carvings in the rock, like the one picture here

There are opportunities along the edge to drop to the lower path running along the foot of the cliffs, where you can see the climbers tackling the gritstone. Neither route is very strenuous, so we’ve kept this route to the top, to make the most of the great views. Whichever path you take you will come to Burbage Bridge at the top of the valley. Cross the stream here, before heading back through any of the gates/stiles onto the other side of the valley. Again, you can take any of the routes leading to the left, as all will lead you eventually up to Higger Tor – our route map takes the upper footpath, from the top of the car park, labelled Fiddler’s Elbow on OS maps.

The route climbs gently to the top of Higger Tor. At 434m in height, the tor gives a commanding view of both the Burbage Valley and across the hills to Hathersage and, in the distance, Mam Tor, the Great Ridge and away to Kinder. To the South-East of the tor the ancient hill fort of Carl Wark sits proud in the landscape, the ancient defensive wall clearly visible. Explore the views from Higger Tor before finding a route down to the footpath leading over to Carl Wark – these routes range from fairly gentle to full on scrambles, so take care!

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View across to Mam Tor from Higger Tor

Arriving at Carl Wark the defenses look even more impressive, constructed from large boulders on this Western side, the only point without the natural defenses of the cliff edges. The builders of the hillfort, its age and purpose all still remain a mystery to be unraveled. However, the two acre site enclosed by the defenses show no evidence found of permanent habitation, so it is suspected it was used as either an emergency refuge, a ceremonial location, or potentially even a market place (similar theories have been proposed for the nearby late Iron age / Bronze age enclosure at Gardom’s Edge). The cliff edges capped with defensive walls give a glimpse into the effort it would have taken to construct the site.

After exploring the top of Carl Wark, head back out of one of the ancient exits to the hillfort, and follow the distinct path as it heads gently down the valley towards the Toad’s Mouth – the rock itself sits a touch down the (very busy!) road, but it’s not hard to see how it got it’s name! It is possible to find yourself breaking away from the main path, heading down towards the brook. In dry weather the brook is easily crossed, but after rain, and especially with smaller children, we’d recommend keeping to the Toad’s Mouth side, rather than a risk failed hop across the stream!

DSCF4123After reaching Hathersage Road, turn left and walk round the bend, crossing with care to take the public footpath on the right-hand side. This will soon come to a fork – take the left-hand path, and follow this through the woods. This section has great views through the trees of the Longshaw Estate. When reaching the road, cross over, past the gate house and down the drive towards the Longshaw Lodge, once a grand shooting lodge for the Duke of Rutland’s hunts, the estate was take over by the National Trust in the 1930s. It was used as a hospital during the Second World War, before being converted into what is now a hugely popular visitor destination. The lodge has a cafe, shop, and toilet facilities. The route back up to the car park is signposted from the lodge.

Map Credit – Base map for the route above is from Open Street Map.

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7 Summits for 2016?

7peakschallengeIf anyone out there is still looking for inspiration for a challenge or resolution for 2016, Trail Magazine may have the thing for you. They have just launched their ‘One Year, Seven Summits‘ challenge, making an achievable goal for anyone’s year to come.

Now, I know the Peak isn’t, somewhat ironically, loaded with England’s highest summits. However, we think you can still craft a great list for the year from the region’s hills. I’ve suggested some themes below, and a hill for each theme – I’d love to add to these with your ideas. Add them in the comments below, or email them over.

1 – The hill less traveled – the hills we do have in the Peak District tend to attract more than their fair share of walkers of all descriptions. There are still some hidden corners however, which are more than worthy of adding to your lists.

high wheeldon summit - George WolfHigh Wheeldon – great views of the coral-reef hills of Chrome and Parkhouse Hills, and a stout little summit. You can make the route up very short, or into a decent hike!

 

2 – A new way up – even those hills that do get the footfall have some quieter ways up, allowing you to avoid the crowds.

parkin clough - dave wildWinn Hill via Parkin Clough – The direct route! A steep climb, best avoided in very wet weather, but it’s a rewarding way up this popular hill. Park alongside Ladybower.

 

3 – A head for heights – One of my aims for the year is to tackle my fear of heights – and there are some great places in the Peak to do this without needing the levels of exposure on a scramble like the Lakes classic Jake’s Rake.

parkhouseParkhouse Hill – a dragon’s-back hill, with a steep, but rewarding hike to the summit. The slopes aren’t sheer, but they are enough to give you goosepimples if your height for heights isn’t fully attuned!

 

4 – The classic – They maybe busy, but they are busy for a reason, with some of the Peak’s best views and climbs, along with easy accessibility.

mam torMam Tor & the Great Ridge – Hard to choose just one for my recommended list, but I just can’t look past Mam Tor. You can be up and down in an hour, or turn it into a nine mile circular hike you’ll never get bored of, with the Great Ridge and a bonus summit at Lose Hill.

5 – One on the fringe – The boundaries of the national park are more than just lines on a map – they suck people into the hills, dales and lakes of the Peak Park. Often this is to the exclusion of some great countryside outside it’s borders, with just as great a claim to call itself the Peak District.

crich standCrich Stand – the stand is the monument on the top of the hill (open to the public), a memorial to the Sherwood Foresters regiment. It’s visible for many miles around, especially from the east, where it represents the first decent sized hill of the Peak. on a good day you’ll see Nottingham and beyond from the top of the hill. You can cheat and drive all the way up – but I’d recommend walking up through the woods from the Cromford Canal / River Derwent and round the back of the quarry. The view will not disappoint.

6 – One in the Dark Peak – The Dark Peak’s hills are often left aside in favour of the limestone ridges of the White Peak, Kinder being the exception, but as the highest peak in the region is has it’s own pulling power to hikers. They are of a different character, often more desolate and windswept, and without the show-stopping views from the peaks. But personally I love a day on the moors – its a special atmosphere, and often much quieter and peaceful. You still get the views too, with views of the valleys and reservoirs sneaking out from the flanks.

black hill cairn - alex pepperhillBlack Hillthis hill can be walked from various start points. It can be very boggy in wet weather, but it’s all access land, so you can find your own way up if you are confident with navigation. Alternatively, chose a route taking in the Pennine Way and the flagged surface will take you right to the summit with your boots barely getting mucky!

7 – One elsewhere – We could fill the list with hills from the Peak, but it’s nice to fly the nest every now-and-again. So, as a gesture to the rest of the UK, I’ve included a free for all category. You could go literally anywhere, but my recommendation for just a single hill elsewhere would be:

crib goch - rockabilly girlSnowden – it might be as busy as Piccadilly Junction, or as quiet as a remote island (occasionally, maybe!). But it is the hill that offers everything – a gentle climb for most walkers, strenuous hikes and the airy thrills of Crib Goch* (pictured).

 

IMG_20160106_174354105An expedition – so many to choose from in the Peak! You can find many multi-day hikes on the Long Distance Walking website. But I think you should go for the 7 day tour in this website’s first post – if only so you can see how it fares in the modern walking world and feed back!

 

 

*Considering I think Parkhouse Hill is a test of my head for heights, you can guess my views on Crib Goch!

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