Alphin Pike – Peak District

This is perverse I know, but believe me when I say there are people out there in the Dark Peak who will like nothing better.

As we have had some rain lately the moors of the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park will be wet, perhaps even boggy, maybe if luck is in, up to the thigh in deep clawing peat bog boggy. The bogtrotters will be in their heaven.

If you want a really good mash then head out to Dove Stones over in the north west of the park. Ignore the dog walkers and ice cream lickers around the car park and disappear down the Bradbury Lane, noticing the Ordnance Survey benchmark on the wall and aim for Alphin Pike a short hop up on to the top.

Incredible views if the weather is playing the game. Follow the edge around, above the Chew Road, spot Dead Man’s Layby, then head out across to Ashway Gap.

You are on your own across this and don’t blame me if you lose a boot or one of those ballet slippers the fell runners wear. Just keep heading north. Cry if you want, no one is around to hear you. Pass the Platt memorial, the irony of a shooter getting shot.

Then DOWN Birchen Clough. I am supposed to let you know here, if you are scared you can go up, reverse the route. Me I loved the challenge of dropping down those two sections where decorum is lost, almost as good as trying to get out of a grough after a heavy storm. Look you take responsibility for you own actions, if it is too much for you then don’t do it. Stay in the car park with the ice cream lickers.

Birchen Clough, Peak District

I love this bit after heavy rains. The water just thunders. Deafens the ears. Gets the blood pumping. Take your time and enjoy it. This is one of the best waterfalls in the whole Peak. This is the outdoors, not a bloody shopping mall. At the bottom, if you are lucky it will be deep, not that deep that you cannot cross with care, a bit of excitement. It has never been more than knee deep when I have done it. The best way is to avoid trying to keep yourself dry and just step firmly out, poles might be needed for stability, just enjoy it. For crying out loud when do you get to wade across a stream, a stream, not a river, in the Peak District.

After that it gets boring, a reservoir track, a slog back to base. Get yourself an ice cream, you are the only one there who has earned a lick.

Dark Peak Walks PB Walk 30

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Dark Peak Walks Book by Paul Besley, published by Cicerone Press. 40 walks in the Dark Peak with detailed route descriptions, maps, photos and points of interest.
Dark Peak Walks. Author Paul Besley. Published by Cicerone Press.

Birchen Clough – Peak District

Me by the memorial cross above Ashway Gap

I hesitate to say this, but the weather could be kind this weekend and not rain, well not too much. So if you fancy a short wander out with some incredible views and a frisson of the sublime, you couldn’t do any better than Dove Stone reservoir in the Peak District near Saddleworth.

A nice quick way up is via Ashway Gap, then heading north near the top to arrive at the memorial cross to James Platt, he used to live at times, at a gothic mansion just where you turn of the reservoir track to ascend to the top. He was unlucky with guns, having being shot by one of his mates the Mayor whilst out walking with guns, America take note, guns are bad for you. More interestingly, to me anyway, James Platt came from the Mather and Platt local business which made special machinery for industry in Victorian times and still does today. But that didn’t save him from getting it in the neck from his mate. It was all just an accident.

Follow the crags round heading generally north then east until you drop in to Birchen Clough. This is a joy, especially after rain. It is to my mind the best Clough for waterfalls in the whole of the Peak District. To add to the beauty there are two sections where a frisson of excitement and death or at the very least serious injury may occur if you are not careful. A footpath that runs high on the eastern  hillside above the stream offers relief from the excitement and safer passage for the sensitive. Take your time and enjoy the place. Its water thunder in your ears, Dippers dart here and there and invariably you have the place to yourself. If you are unsure about this bit of the walk you can always retrace your steps. Personal safety is the better part of valour.

If the Birchen Clough stream is in flood and seems difficult to cross at the top , it will be worse further down, especially at the weir so you may want to retrace your steps.

At the bottom cross the stream, gain the reservoir track and follow it down. Note on your right stones from the gothic mansion making a wall.

At the car park there is usually a stall selling wonderful food and drink. A good day out.

All of the items mentioned in the post can be found on or near Walk No.30 of Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press.