OS Explorer OL1 The Peak District - Dark Peak Area
Ashopton Bridge – Crookhill Farm – Bridge-end Pasture – Woodock Coppice – Lakeside Road – Fairholmes – Derwent – Lakeside – Ashopton Bridge
An almost perfect Autumn day, bright and clear, cool in the shade but quite warm in the sun.
Day two of our Dark Peak weekend couldn’t have started much better. A quick peek out of the hostel window showed purple hills rising below a clear, half-light sky, so we hurried down to the kitchen to make our porridge.
Pausing only to scrape the ice from the car windscreen – the first time this autumn – we threw everything into the car and set off. On a morning such as this, there are few better places to be than Ladybower, somewhere we hadn’t visited for a good couple of years, and very soon we were parked on Ashopton Bridge preparing for our walk.
We began by taking the rising path towards Crookhill Farm. As we gained height, we were rewarded with increasingly good views across the reservoir to Derwent Edge beyond. The stroll over Bridge-end Pasture was a joy; the sun’s rays now beginning to cut through the early-morning chill. At the top of the ridge, views began to open up to the west as the path traced the edge of Hagg Side wood. We stopped for a break by the junction of paths near Woodcock Coppice, with a magnificent view of the entire Edale skyline laid out in front of us.
After a quiet start, it was getting a busier. Walkers and cyclists began to appear from all quarters. Over the next mile and a half we followed the track northwards through sun-dappled woodland to meet the lakeside road close to the point where Ouzelden Brook enters the reservoir. Danger, in the form of Mountain Bikers, was never far away, but we made the road without any mishaps and turned southwards to follow the road along the side of lake.
Soon, we approached Derwent Dam. The little museum in the west tower was open, so we went in for a quick look round. It’s quite interesting, dealing as it does with both the history of the construction of the dams and of the famous Dambusters of WWII.
The visitor centre at Fairholmes was heaving. Although we are normally seekers of solitude, the buzz of so many people enjoying the fabulous day was quite exciting. We bought hot drinks and sat on a bench to eat our sandwiches in the sunshine. Ducks and dogs pestered us gently for crumbs and more.
Lunch eaten, we followed the road below the dam to the eastern side of the lake. The track along this side is relatively flat and rarely strays far from the lakeside, providing an easy ramble for the final couple of miles. Looking up, we could see the Gritstone outcrop of Whinstone Lee Tor presiding over the southern end of the lake.
The last mile or so followed a wooded track, eventually meeting the main road by Ashopton Bridge at the end of an excellent walk. Admittedly, it is not an especially long or difficult walk, but the weather and scenery combined to make this an unforgettable day, and we made a promise to ourselves to come back and see more of this area as soon as possible.