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Along Stanage Edge

Along Stanage Edge
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The eastern escarpment of the Derwent Valley is lined along most of its length almost from its birth and as far as Chatsworth.  Broken into sections where natural weaknesses allow roads or trackways to cross the heights, this abrupt rise from the valley has always determined the route taken by travellers from as far back as pre-Roman times to modern day roads used for commerce or pleasure.

During the days when salt was carried by trains of pack ponies, or flocks of sheep and herds of cattle were driven on foot to market in Sheffield, the route they would have taken was over what became known as the Long Causeway.  On their way they were guided by a tall pole set in a pile of rocks at the track’s highest point, a welcome sight even today in bad weather.  This walk, purely for the benefit of admiring the moorland view extends away from Stanage Edge before returning to it and continuing along the escarpment proper – a worthwhile diversion as the Michelin Guides put it.

The name Stanage incidentally, means ‘Stone Edge’, so calling it Stanage Edge is really saying ‘stone edge edge’!

This walk starts from the pay and display car park on the high road from Hathersage that curves round over Bamford Moor before dropping back into the Derwent Valley, making it one of the most attractive drives in the Peak District.  From the car park, the way is steeply uphill for a little under half a mile in order to reach the rocky edge.  Beyond it a rough path crosses moorland to gain the Long Causeway which is then followed as far as Stanage Pole and its views.  The track is followed back until it breaks through a gap in the rocky edge.  Here a right turn joins a reasonably level path for about a mile until another gap allows the path to descend towards the heather moor.  Bearing left, it drops down to re-join the Long Causeway which is followed downhill to the right as far as the moorland road where a left turn eventually returns to the car park. bs-walk-along-stanage-edge-1-nov16

Useful information

  • 5 miles (8km) of moderate walking along rocky paths, open moorland and a well graded track.  Total ascent 1,950ft (595m).
  • Recommended Map:  Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale Outdoor Leisure 1; The Peak District, Dark Peak Area. Public transport only as far as Hathersage (rail and bus), about three miles from the start of the walk.
  • Refreshments – several pubs and cafes in Hathersage.
  • Car Parking (pay and display) about a quarter of a mile beyond the public toilets on the Hathersage/Bamford high-level moorland road.  Free parking at a smaller car park at Denis Knoll at the far end of the road taken on the final leg of the walk. If using this car park then the road walk is taken at the start of the walk.

The Walk with Rambler

  • Go through a gate at the top end of the car park and follow a winding path uphill through mixed woodland.
  • At the upper edge of the trees another gate opens out on to the open rocky, heather clad slopes below Stanage Edge.  Follow this path, still uphill, over slabby rocks directly to the foot of the escarpment.
  • Bear left to follow the path through a natural gap in the edge.
  • On reaching the top of the escarpment turn right for a couple of yards or so and look for a narrow path bearing left on to the moor.  Follow this, past an old fence and a couple of forlorn looking gate posts until the path reaches a wide well-surfaced gravel track – this is the Long Causeway.
  • N.B. If you cannot find the moorland path then simply follow the edge-top path until it reaches the Long Causeway and turn right to follow the described route.
  • Turn right from the moor along the track for a little under half a mile until it reaches the prominent Stanage Pole.

The pole has stood here for centuries, guiding travellers on their weary way to and from Sheffield.  Made from a convenient tree trunk, it has to be frequently replaced, as is the one marking the way over White Edge beyond Longshaw to the south of Stanage.

The moors south of Stanage Pole and the Long Causeway are on access land which are free to roam, but those to the north are private grouse moors.  If you look to the north beyond the wire fence near the pole, the view is of miles of rolling heather moors with a small building and its sheltering trees the only man-made object.  This is Stanage Lodge where shooters have their base during the grouse shooting season.  Although it was the day after the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ when we last did this walk, there was no sound of gunfire, much to the relief of the grouse I am sure.

  • Return along the track until it begins to drop steeply and starts to swing to the left.  Leaving the track, take a narrow rocky path on the right and with open moorland to your right climb up on to the top of Stanage Edge.
  • Cross a wooden stile in a fence and continue along the top of the crags for about a mile, past the trig point on High Neb and as far as a couple of stone cairns.

Keep an eye open for small numbered rocky pools carved into convenient slabs. Why they are numbered is often a source of argument, but it is thought they were made to provide drinking water for the grouse.

The rocks below and to your left are popular with climbers; take care not to get too close to the edge if you stop to admire the climber’s dexterous moves.

  • A yard or so beyond the cairns follow the path as it bears left, downhill through a gap in the rocks.
  • Walk along the foot of the crags, past several grindstones waiting for orders that never came.

The grindstones were made ready for the Scandinavian wood pulp trade which in later years changed its rollers from stone to more efficient steel.

  • After about half a mile and where the path divides, bear right with the main path, go downhill through bracken as far as a low ladder stile.
  • Climb over the stile and turn right on re-joining the Long Causeway.  Follow it down to the road at Denis Knoll.
  • Turn left beside the car park and follow the moorland road for just under a mile, back to the pay and display car park.

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