Alport Castles to Bleaklow Stones

Route Summary:

This Dark Peak walk starts at Howden Reservoir before making it’s way up to Alport Castles. From here, the Bleaklow plateau is obtained via Westend Moor, and the gritstone formations at Bleaklow Stones, Grinah Stones, and Barrow Stones are visited before descending back to Howden via Round Hill.

Route Information

  • Start: Unnamed Road, Hope Valley S33 0BB, UK
  • Date:22-05-2018
  • GPX File: Download

Other POI: Howden Reservoir, Ditch Clough Plantation, Ditch Clough, Birchinlee Pasture, Alport Castles, Birchin Hat, Westend Moor, The Ridge, Bleaklow Stones, Grinah Stones, Barrow Stones, Round Hill, Ridgewalk Moor, River Westend, Fagney Plantation

Route Description:

This route is taken from the excellent Cicerone ‘Dark Peak Walks’ book and starts at one of the small parking areas at the end of the western branch of Howden Reservoir. From there, the route heads steeply up through Ditch Clough Plantation before heading across a patch of open moorland between Ditch Clough and Fagney Clough. In no time at all, Alport Castles is reached. Alport Castles is formed from a landslide and, at around half a mile long, is thought to be the largest landslide in the United Kingdom.

Ditch Clough Plantation
Ditch Clough Plantation
The Tower and Alport Valley
The Tower and Alport Valley

From the crumbling cliffs of Alport Castle, the route follows the edge north-west until it crosses the head of a brook. After crossing, a track leads up onto Westend Moor where it continues roughly north-west. On a clear day, the white trig pillar should quickly become visible in the distance and makes a useful point of reference.

Alport Valley
Alport Valley
Following the top of Alport Valley to Westend Moor
Following the top of Alport Valley
Westend Moor trig point
Westend Moor trig point

The weather had forecast nice weather, but as yet there was no sign of it. It was still cloudy, and the top of Bleaklow was still obscured by low cloud. The wind was quite strong too and it felt chilly even with my fleece top on. To think that I almost turned up with just a t-shirt! The last time I walked across Westend Moor, it was hard work. This may have been partly down to me going slightly off route and having to cross a load of deep groughs, but it was also down to the wet weather and deep peaty bog. Due to the recent warm and dry spell though, it was completely different this time. All the peat had dried up and the bog had kindly converted into a springy bed of earth which made for a pleasant walking experience.

Westend Moor, looking towards Alport Moor
Westend Moor, looking towards Alport Moor
Westend Moor, looking towards Grinah Stones
Westend Moor, looking towards Grinah Stones

The route continues north-west, aiming for the highest ground between the groughs for the easiest walking. At the end of the moor, a sloped ridge rises up to Bleaklow Stones where the strange weathered gritstone formations can be admired for a while, as well as the weirdly scarred, other-worldly landscape of bleaklow’s plateau. From Bleaklow Stones, the rest of the route is relatively straight forward in clear weather as the next destination of Grinah Stones can clearly be seen in the distance to the east. It’s a simple case of following a track that contours around the edge of Bleaklow until this is reached. The views from here looking over the expanses of moorland below are fantastic.

Sheep and lamb on The Ridge, on the way up to Bleaklow
Sheep and lamb on The Ridge
Heading to Bleaklow Stones across the Bleaklow Plateau
Heading to Bleaklow Stones
The anvil stone
The anvil stone
Looking towards Grinah Stones from Bleaklow Stones
Looking towards Grinah Stones
The Grinah Stones
Approaching the Grinah Stones
Looking back towards Bleaklow Stones from the Grinah Stones
Looking back to Bleaklow Stones

The final gritstone collection of the day is only a short walk away. Head roughly north north-east and the weirdly eroded gritstone that makes up the Barrow Stones soon becomes visible. A track descends from here and a stile over a fence is tackled before the track continues over Round Hill and across Ridgewalk Moor before finally descending down to the River Westend. The view along the valley during this part of the walk makes for a great finish. Once down to the valley floor, the river is followed south back to Howden Reservoir.

The Barrow Stones on Bleaklow
The Barrow Stones
Gritstone formation with Round Hill beyond
Gritstone formation with Round Hill beyond
Looking back at the Grinah and Barrow Stones, and Round Hill
Looking back at the Grinah and Barrow Stones
Descending towards the River Westend
Descending towards the River Westend
Following the riverside path to Howden Reservoir
The riverside path to Howden Reservoir
River Westend
River Westend
Route Map
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