We started our walk at 10am in the Derwert Valley beneath the stone ramparts of the Derwent dam with a cup of tea. Fairholmes car-park apparently has a history of its own, I found this out afterwards after noticing the crumbling foundation of the farm and doing some research when I got home. During the construction of the reservoirs the car-park was a masons’ yard it would have likely reverberated the sounds of workers' cutting and shaping stone for the the dams.
Leaving the valley our route climbs up through Lockerbrook Coppice. Leaving the trees, the route follows the top edge of the vast Hagg Side spruce plantation, before climbing further to Bellhag Tor. We saw a numbers of British finch and Kestrels' all the way across the top, before getting the first glance of the slips in the area. Having crossed the over the stile onto Rowlee Pastures, here you get the first glimpse of the largest landslip in England and our destination for today’s dinner - cheese and pickle on a white bap, plus a pork pie (Thanks Lulu!).
It is called Alport Castles and you can see why when you are stood on The Tower. You look across at a chaotic jumble of tumbled gritstone boulders and grassy covered mounds; It’s a real spectacle. We ate our sandwiches on The Ridge before climbing down to the path that leads to Alport Castles farm. By this time it has started to rain.
We followed the track down past the farm and followed the valley, seeing and hearing a number of large Jays’. Although they are classed as vermin, I think they are quite a beautiful bird. By this time the rain was torrential and we were both getting quite wet, but still smiling!
We crossed the A57 Snake Road, followed the track and took the bridge over the ford. We continued on the path past Upper Ashop Farm and followed the grassy road called Blackley Hey. Entering the Pinewoods, it smelt great due to the damp and the light was really atmospheric. This path took us all the way down to Yorkshire Bridge and back to the Lady Bower reservoir - back around our car and home for a cup of tea and a well-deserved bath!
I'd recommend this route for anyone looking for a full-day Yomp, it was 14.5 miles round trip with some really scenic views from the very beginning. There are a number of get-out routes on the A57 if you get into any difficulty.
I'd recommend finishing the walk with a pint in the Lady Bower Inn!
All words and photos by Thom Barnett