Along for the ride.
Despite getting out and about for years, one place that I hadn’t visited as of 2020 was the Peak District, despite living within throwing distance compared to the other national parks. So, come the first month of 2020, it was about time I visited and saw what was on offer.
I often prefer to set my own routes, combing through other people’s reports and maps and establishing a few waypoints I want to reach; but with the lack of knowledge of the peaks, I decided to just search for one of the highest rated routes on ViewRanger, made a few mods to increase the distance, set the GPS and settled in for the ride.
Starting in the Derwent Reservoir valley, the route begins with a tour of the local landmarks, namely Derwent Dam. This dam holds back the reservoir where the RAF’s 617 squadron practised their Dambuster raids and bouncing bomb runs prior to their 1943 Raid. Walking along the base of the dam and emerging at the top, the volume of water this dam holds back is nothing short of impressive.
Follow the main path along the reservoir towards the eventual approach path for Lost Lad; if you make this an early morning start, the way the light starts chasing up the valley with the backdrop of working dogs and water makes for a good start.
As the path breaks into Abbey Plantation, a track of the right heads up and into the Access Land of the Peak district, heading up and across Greystones Moss, the approach to Lost Lad becomes obvious and is relatively uneventful. The summit makes for a perfect spot for a snack – panoramic views are available all around.
A short march to the highest summit of the day, Back Tor, and the best views of Derwent Edge. The Peak District certainly isn’t short of an ‘Edge’ or two, but Derwent seems to be one of the most accessible, with an easy to follow path along the top and various different rock formations to stop off at. Each and every time you get the chance to stop,views spanning miles across High Peak
As the edge comes to an end at ‘Wheel Stones’, the route turns back down and into Derwent Valley and toward Ladybower Reservoir; the site where the village of Derwent and Ashopton were drowned during the construction of the surrounding reservoirs. As the Right of Way re-joins the reservoir-side path, there are information boards explaining the positioning of the villages, along with what to look for when the level is low – church spires and buildings can be seen within the water.
Heading back along Ladybower takes you to the now familiar Derwent Dam and back around to the car park and visitor centre – the attached café is brilliant for that end of walk snack and will fuel the sunset drive back through the Snake Pass.
Sometimes, it’s more than enjoyable to just walk – no thought, navigation or survival, just walking on a well-established footpath and enjoying the heritage and interest an area has to offer.
Parking can be found at the visitor centre car park (shown on my route below!), for around £5 for the full day.
Follow my route
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Remember to always carry the paper version of the map you’re using! I like to add a trace of my route and date it, providing a record of all the places I’ve been!