Higger Tor, Limb Valley, and Totley Moor
A walk around the Peak District eastern moors, starting at the Longshaw Estate and taking in Higger Tor and Burbage Edge before heading to Limb Valley via Ox Stones and Lady Canning’s Plantation. The route then returns back to Longshaw over Blacka Moor, Flask Edge and Totley Moor.
Length: 15.3 miles
Start: Snake Pass Summit
Area: Peak District – Dark Peak
GPX File: Download
Ox Stones – (Height: 419m, GridRef: SK 28021 83134)
Flask Edge – (Height: 395m, GridRef: SK 28492 78842)
Other POI: Longshaw Estate, Carl Wark, Hathersage Moor, Higger Tor, Fiddler’s Elbow, Upper Burbage Bridge, Burbage Edge, Burbage Moor, Houndkirk Moor, Houndkirk Hill, Lady Canning’s Plantation, Ringinglow, Limb Brook, Limb Valley, Blacka Plantation, Lenny Hill, Blacka Moor, Wimble Holme Hill, Brown Edge, Flask Edge, Totley Moor
I hadn’t really done a lot of mileage since my Pendle Way adventure back in June, with my only two outings being Scafell Pike with the kids, and a day of scrambling in Snowdonia. The lethargy that comes with a lack of exercise was beginning to set in and so I made the decision to get out on Bank Holiday Monday – something I wouldn’t normally do as I prefer to avoid the crowds.
I had designed myself a choice of 4 routes, all set in and around the Dark Peak or Eastern Moors. I think my selection was influenced a little by the laziness that had set in as I chose the route that was nearest to home – A 15 mile hike around the Peak District’s Eastern Moors starting at the Longshaw Estate.
The weather was looking glorious. The last time I walked on Higger Tor, it was covered with a dusting of snow, and so I was looking forward to experiencing it under a summer sun, and at the time of year when the heather is in full bloom and blanketing the open moors in vivid shades of purple and magenta.
I set out from Longshaw at 9am on the dot, heading straight for the distinctive rocky outcrop of Carl Wark – the site of an Iron Age hill fort. Once up, you get a much better view of your surroundings. Higger Tor is straight ahead, and Burbage Edge is across the valley on the right. Both would be visited soon.
I continued north from Carl Wark to Higger Tor, where Stanage Edge is clearly visible ahead. From the top of Higger Tor, I veered east and followed the path across the rocky outcrop known as Fiddlers Elbow, and across Burbage Brook by the side of Upper Burbage Bridge.
This marked the beginning of Burbage Edge (marked as Burbage Rocks on the Ordnance Survey map) which I followed south whilst enjoying the views back across the valley to Carl Wark and Higger Tor. Due to the sun and the dry weather, the ground was rock hard and made for easy walking. I felt a little overdressed in my gaiters but.. you never know.
I turned left at a large cairn that lies directly east of Carl Wark, and continued across Burbage Moor as far as Houndkirk Road (a large sandy track). I continued straight over and across Houndkirk Moor on a track that was a lot less defined than what I’d been walking on so far, and was probably the only section of the whole route that was still boggy in places. The path heads straight across the moor, passing to the south of Houndkirk Hill which is visible straight ahead. I decided to make a slight detour to the top of the hill following a narrow track through the heather. The path ended at the top and it didn’t seem as though there was any other easy way off besides retracing my steps back to the bottom. Every other direction led me up to my knees in thick heather.
The path eventually emerged onto Hathersage Road where I headed north. At the next bend, I turned left onto Sheephill Road as far as a sandy byway that headed off back across Houndkirk Moor. I followed this until it crossed another big sandy track, labelled Houndkirk Road on the map I’m looking at right now. The sandy paths, easy walking, and heather clad surroundings was starting to remind me of the walk I did in the Cleveland Hills earlier this year. I carried on straight ahead. I was now walking along the edge of Burbage Moor, parallel with Burbage Edge on the opposite side of the moor. To my right was Lady Canning’s Plantation, an area very popular with mountain bikers due to it’s purpose built bike tracks. Admittedly I didn’t know this when I designed the route as walking through hordes of bikers isn’t really my thing. Anyway, before I entered the woods, I took a little detour over to my first trig point of the day at Ox Stones. This was the first time I’d been here so it was one to tick off the list. Near to the trig point was the Ox Stones themselves – big lumps of ridged weathered gritstone, the type you’d expect to see scattered all around the Dark Peak.
After visiting the Ox Stones, I took a walk through Lady Canning’s Plantation until emerging at the plantation car park in Ringinglow. A 100 yards up the road and another footpath headed off south-east across fields. This was the path that would eventually lead into Limb Valley. The valley falls withing the Sheffield city boundaries and is not part of the Peak District (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), and is a popular walking area. It was nice enough following the line of Limb Brook through the woodland, however – if I’m honest – it did go on a bit! I was eager to get back to the open moors. Unfortunately, there was no easy way to link up with my next destination – The Blacka Plantation and Lenny Hill – without some tedious road walking. I won’t explain it here, and should you need to know the route, there’s a map at the bottom of the post.
I eventually ended up on Shorts Lane, which itself is off Whitelow Lane. This led down into the Blacka Plantation beneath Blacka Moor. Against all the advice of Egon, I took the first opportunity to cross the stream (crap Ghostbusters joke, sorry) and headed up the hill as far as a wall separating the plantation from the land beyond. I followed the line of the wall west then south until eventually arriving on top of Lenny Hill. After descending the hill, I took a path heading back east and gradually downhill, eventually emerging at the car park on Strawberry Lee Lane.
From the car park, a very steep track headed back uphill south-west, past Bolehill Lodge, and opening up some fantastic views. This was right on the fringe of the Peak District, and over to my left lay the urban sprawl of Dronfield and Chesterfield. The path eventually curved to the right, heading west, where it led me to a junction of footpaths at Wimble Holme Hill. From here, I took the track heading south to Brown Edge, eventually taking a short detour to a large cairn, possibly biggest one I’ve seen in the Peak District. Does it have a name, I wonder? It looks a fairly modern construct but I’m not sure why it was built in that particular location.
After heading back to the path and a touch further south, another path forked off back in a roughly northerly direction and lead me up to the second trig point of the day on Flask Edge. This was also the first time I’d been to this particular trig. I started to feel a little weary at this point; the hot temperature and the blazing sun finally taking its toll. Naturally, I didn’t bring enough water – just two 500ml bottles. If you’ve read many of my other posts, you may notice it’s not the first time this has happened. I’m clearly a man that doesn’t believe in learning from his mistakes! On top of that I also forgot sun cream yet – again.
Eventually the track met up again with the Moss Road track that I had left back at Wimble Holme Hill. I headed across Totley Moor where I encountered a herd of cows lying around the path near the road. Due to my silly fear of cows, I employed my foolproof cow avoidance technique of climbing over the wall like a coward and proceeding down the adjacent field. The walking was a little more difficult here but it was a small price to pay for avoiding those deadly bovine fiends. I headed straight over Stony Ridge road and carried on across the field, eventually emerging just up the road from the Fox House Inn on Hathersage Road, and a short walk from the car at Longshaw.
All in all, it was a nice walk in an area that I haven’t really covered much before. For that reason, I was glad that I did it – although the walking was just a little too easy for my liking with all the purpose built, bone dry sandy tracks. The gaiters were certainly wasted! The walking and the moorland reminded me very much of the Cleveland Hills in the North York Moors. I obviously picked the right time of year for it with all the heather in full bloom. It may not have been the most imposing or awe-inspiring scenery I’ve seen this year, but it was certainly the most colourful.
Walk completed on 28th August, 2017
Map and Elevation Data:
GPX file for the walk
This route on Viewranger
Photo album on Flickr
Peak District – Wikipedia page
Limb Brook – Wikipedia page
Carl Wark – Wikipedia page
Eastern Moors website from the National Trust
Peak District Landscape Character Assessment 2009
NCA Profile for the Dark Peak