Chrome Hill, Parkhouse Hill, and High Wheeldon

Summary

An enjoyable walk in the Upper Dove Valley area of the Peak District, starting with an ascent of High Wheeldon and then finishing with the distinctive Parkhouse Hill and Chrome Hill.

Route Information

Ascent: 452m

Length: 6.3 miles

Start: Longnor

Area: Peak District – Upper Dove Valley

GPX File: Download

Summits:
Chrome Hill – (Height: 443m, Drop: 61m, Tump)
Parkhouse Hill – (Height: 375m, Drop: 53m, Tump)
Parkhouse Hill North Top – (Height: 362m, Drop: 36m, Tump)
High Wheeldon – (Height: 422m, Drop: 35m, Tump)

Other POI: Longnor, River Dove, Earl Sterndale, Glutton Dale, Glutton Farm, Underhill Farm

Route Description:

I’d wanted to climb Chrome hill and Parkhouse hill for a few years after regularly seeing amazing photographs of them on the web, but I never seemed to quite get around to it. I had a free weekend so decided that now was the time, and I created myself a route on the Viewranger website that incorporated these hills alongside the nearby and also impressive looking High Wheeldon.

A little bit of geology for you: Chrome and Parkhouse hills have a very distinctive formation, and are basically Reef Knolls – or in other words, huge mounds of mud held together by Polyzoa and Algae. Geologists say that its topography is pretty much the same as it was all the way back in the Triassic period, when it’s location was likely a few degrees south of the Equator.

Longnor St Bartholomew Churchyard
The churchyard at Longnor St. Bartholomew’s Church

I arrived a little bit late after taking a few wrong turns during my journey. The plan was to park the car in Longnor, and start the walk from there as per the route in the above picture. Unfortunately, with it being such a gloriously hot and sunny day (a rarity for October in the Peak District!), all the possible car parking options in the village were already taken by those who were presumably better at directions than me and arrived there nice and early!

I headed back up Buxton Road and managed to find a lay-by at the top of the hill, just before the traffic lights where the road narrows. I could have actually started the route from here instead, but decided to stay true to my original plan and walked back down the hill to the village centre and began from there.

The route starts easily enough by following a bridle path north-west from Longnor. From this point, there are some good views of High Wheeldon and surrounding countryside. The track takes a sharp turn to the right at a farm building, and a footpath continues across two large fields, separated by the river Dove which is crossed via a small bridge. Eventually, the footpath emerges onto a road at the base of High Wheeldon, which appeared to be incredibly steep and a lot bigger from close up!

View of High Wheeldon
Looking across at High Wheeldon from the track near Longnor. Doesn’t look so big from here!
River Dove
Crossing the River Dove

From the road, a footpath circles the hill clockwise, with a gradual climb to higher ground. Eventually, when approximately north-east on the hills circumference, a much easier and shorter ascent to High Wheeldons summit comes into view. Five minutes later and the trig point is achieved. From here, if you allow your eyes to follow the line of the ridge in a roughly north-westerly direction, you should also see the ridges of Aldery Cliff, Hitter Hill, Parkhouse Hill, and Chrome Hill almost in an exact line. I decided to follow the ridge downhill from the trig point, however the path soon vanished and so I ended up just picking a line and side-striding (my made-up word for the day) straight down the very steep slope to the original footpath on the north circumference, and then back to the road.

View from High Wheeldon
Looking toward Chrome Hill from High Wheeldon
High Wheeldon ridge
Heading down the north-west ridge of High Wheeldon

When planning the route, I’d mapped a road section for this next part that meant completely avoiding Aldery Cliff and Hitter Hill. The road took me around to the right of these hills, past the village of Earl Sterndale, and eventually to a junction where I turned left onto Buxton Road. A short walk down this road brings you to the beginning of the footpath that leads to Parkhouse Hill. The footpath is located at an entrance to Glutton Grange farm, and goes straight through the middle of a sheep pen – which happened to be packed full of sheep at the time – before it brings you out at the base of the hill. After squeezing myself through the gate of the sheep pen, all the sheep suddenly parted and left me with a handy path straight down the middle. I felt like the Yorkshire version of Moses!

An initial short but steep climb gets you onto the crest of the Parkhouse Hill ridge where the walk becomes more interesting. There’s a couple of pinnacles that offer a little basic scrambling but apart from that, the walk is straight forward and offers nothing of great danger. Anything considered dangerous can be easily avoided for those who don’t have a great head for heights. The hill is clearly very popular as I encountered many other walkers up there taking in the scenery. A little futher along the ridge, Chrome Hill in all it’s glory comes into view – and it really is a breathtaking view. It’s at times like this, I wish I had a better camera! After taking a few pictures, I started descending the ridge. The path down here is steep and rugged, with the rock polished from the many years of heavy footfall. Care needs to be taken. The track eventually gets to a large, dangerous but impressive looking cone of rock. There’s a very steep and precarious path heading to the left of this, but I chose the easier option which was to zig-zag down the much gentler slope on the right.

Sheep Pen
The sheep pen that the footpath cuts through
Parkhouse Hill
The start of Parkhouse Hill
Chrome Hill
Brilliant view of Chrome Hill from the ridge of Parkhouse Hill

As soon as Parkhouse Hill is descended, Chrome Hill begins with only a narrow lane separating the two. Chrome Hill is higher than Parkhouse by about 65 metres and also requires a short but steep climb to reach it’s crest. Once on top, the path is easier navigated than the one on Parkhouse, and doesn’t contain the precarious rocky descent of it’s smaller twin. The views are good, however Parkhouse from Chrome Hill doesn’t look as impressive as the other way around. Once you arrive at the other end, a path leads you around to the right and takes you back along the side of Chrome Hill at a lower level. The path gradually rises until it reaches the lower crest where you began. From here, follow the ridge back to the lane , then continue on the lane around to the right of Parkhouse until it reaches Buxton Road. Turn left and immediately right down a farm track and it will eventually lead to the same footpath that brings you from Longnor at the beginning of the walk.

Parkhouse Hill
Looking back at Parkhouse Hill from Chrome Hill
Chrome Hill
The descent of Chrome Hill. A lot easier than it appears here.

A great day out and another three hills ticked off my list. If I did it again, then I’d probably try doing it the other way round and starting at Chrome Hill. I suspect that this would make the ascents more interesting and the descents easier. For those interested in following the same route, I have attached the route as a GPX file in the links below.

Walk completed on 4th October, 2015

Map and Elevation Data:

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Interactive Map
Elevation Profile
Elevation Profile

Useful Links

GPX file for the walk
My photo album for the walk
Geology info at thepeakdistrict.info
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) declaration
Chrome Hill – Wikipedia page
Parkhouse Hill – Wikipedia page

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