A photographic tour of the Eastern Peak
PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 April 2017 | UPDATED: 21:08 16 February 2018
Photographer Graham Dunn takes us on a local travelogue
The Peak District is an inspiring place to have on one’s doorstep – I was captivated by its beauty within moments of moving to Sheffield 12 years ago. As the oldest and most visited of our National Parks, its landscape offers a wealth of variety and diversity and it attracts plentiful walkers, cyclists, climbers and indeed photographers. The Peak District is classically divided, in accordance with its geology, into the Dark Peak and the White Peak.
The Dark Peak forms an upturned horseshoe that sits neatly atop the White Peak and can in fact be further divided into three regions of its own – namely the South Western Peak, the Northern Peak and the Eastern Peak. The Eastern Peak, upon which this article focuses, is characterised by great lengths of dramatic gritstone edges, often punctuated by the abundant abandoned millstones from a bygone era. It also boasts fine views along and across the Derwent Valley and is home to well-known attractions from Stanage Edge in the north to Chatsworth in the south and many equally photogenic sites in-between. The following imagery, though but a mere glimpse into the delights on offer, will transport you on a visual tour that journeys from north to south down the Eastern Peak. Many of these areas are easily accessible by a short walk from the car.
1: Redmires Lower Reservoir. This three-tiered reservoir system was constructed in the mid-19th century. On the west side of Sheffield, it lies within both the city border and the eastern boundary of the Peak District National Park.
2: A short distance south-west from the Redmires Reservoirs lies Stanage Edge. At four miles in length, it is the longest and probably most famous of these impressive formations that stand over the Derwent Valley. Its crags and boulders offer hundreds of routes for willing climbers, whilst the path along the top provides a delightfully scenic walk. Here captured from Hooks Car.
3: At the foot of Stanage Edge itself lies a well-known and rather artistically arranged collection of abandoned millstones. A remnant of a previous industrial age, they are a welcome addition to the landscape and for the photographically minded constitute enticing foreground material. This scene is lit entirely by the light of a full moon.
4: A stone’s throw south from Stanage and you come to Higger Tor, a popular and fascinating gritstone outcrop that offers panoramic views over Hathersage Moor and the neighbouring Derwent and Hope Valleys. A perfect venue for witnessing both a misty dawn and the setting sun, Higger Tor is also home to numerous interesting rock formations. Pictured are the affectionately named KitKat stones, which lead your eye down towards Carl Wark, the site of an iron age hill fort.
5: Moving south again and you reach Over Owler Tor, another rocky prominence commanding spectacular views – here looking back up to a distant Higger Tor. It is a relatively short, though uphill, walk from Surprise View car park and is worthy of a visit year round – though especially in the late summer when the heather is in full bloom.
6: Across the road from Over Owler Tor and at the base of Lawrence Field, you find Bolehill Quarry. Once the site of prolific millstone production, it now houses an intriguing silver birch wood at the foot of some impressive cliffs.
7: On the other side of Lawrence Field you find yourself at Padley Gorge, a beautiful and rightly popular spot where Burbage Brook cascades (or trickles depending on recent rainfall) through its gritstone surroundings. The largely beech woodland here provides for an ever-changing canopy and backdrop to the scene.
8: Hopping south a little past Froggatt Edge, you reach Curbar Edge (pictured). These two edges actually run in continuity with each other forming an escarpment almost two miles in length. They, along with Baslow Edge (pictured in the distance), dominate this section of the Derwent Valley. Curbar Gap – the site of an old Roman road – separates the Curbar and Baslow edges and was used as a packhorse route between Chesterfield and the Derwent Valley. This is also a trusty spot for temperature inversions and morning mist and rising early is often rewarded with spectacular conditions.
9: South east beyond Baslow Edge lies Gardom’s Edge, a lesser- known and less frequented location but no less picturesque and well worth a visit. The surrounding moorland is steeped in historical finds dating back to the Neolithic period.
10: Lastly, we come to Chatsworth. Home to the Devonshire family and the ‘Palace of the Peak’, it sits in 1,000 acres of stunning landscaped grounds – Chatsworth Park – designed by Capability Brown in the mid-18th century. The Derwent runs through the park and is crossed by two stepped weirs (pictured) which curve gently across from bank to bank. Whilst barely scratching the surface of the wonders to be found in this area, this whistle-stop tour of the Eastern Peak has hopefully given you a flavour of what may be in store should you pull on your boots and decide to investigate this popular and largely easily accessible landscape.
Graham is a full-time photographer specialising in fine art landscapes, interiors and portraits. For more information and to see more of his work visit: www.grahamdunn.co.uk. Graham is opening his studio at 4 Stumperlowe Hall Road, Fulwood, S10 3QR from 29th April to 7th May as part of Open Up Sheffield & South Yorkshire.