Photographing heather on the moors of Derbyshire and the Peak District

PUBLISHED: 00:00 17 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:34 18 August 2020

Higger Sunset on Higger Tor (c) Gary Wallis

Higger Sunset on Higger Tor (c) Gary Wallis

gary wallis

For several weeks each year whole hillsides seem to turn purple thanks to clusters of tiny flowers. Gary Wallis donned his walking boots, picked up his camera and sallied forth.

Stanage Edge (c) Gary WallisStanage Edge (c) Gary Wallis

For a brief period in late summer the moors of Derbyshire and the Peak District reach the apex of their beauty when the heather that covers them is in full bloom.

It takes a certain type of plant to thrive where it’s often windy, wet and cold and heather plants grow together to survive which creates a carpet-like effect.

Three types of heather can be found in the Peak District: bell heather, which has dark pink or purple slightly larger bell-shaped flowers and generally flowers first; cross-leaved heather, which is often found in boggy areas and has pale pink bell-shaped flowers and leaves arranged in crosses of four on its stems; and, by far the most common and the reason for the glorious purple display, ling heather.

Grouse eat the young shoots and find shelter in the older stems, and it also provides a perfect habitat for insects. Although keen to get out into Derbyshire’s countryside whenever I can, this is one of my favourite times of year and here are four of my favourite places from which to admire and photograph this stunning phenomenon. It only appears for a few weeks at the end of August and the start of September so try not to miss it!

Baslow Edge at dusk (c) Gary WallisBaslow Edge at dusk (c) Gary Wallis

Baslow Edge

Baslow Edge is usually a little quieter than its neighbour Curbar Edge and through all seasons is a perfect place for a walk.

It has a vantage point from which to enjoy the views west over the Derwent Valley. These images of the beautiful display of heather around the rocks were captured at the end of August just before sunset. As the sun dipped below the horizon a red glow illuminated the clouds and a rising moon added to a special scene and a perfect evening in the Peak District.

Park at: Goose Green Car Park, Baslow DE45 1SR

Higger Tor towards Carl Wark (c) Gary WallisHigger Tor towards Carl Wark (c) Gary Wallis

Higger Tor towards Carl Wark

From this lofty viewpoint – it stands at 1,410ft (430m) above sea-level – this prominent gritstone outcrop affords superb views over the Burbage Valley to the east and the Iron Age hillfort of Carl Wark to the south.

When I visited this superb location the heather was in full bloom providing a great foreground for the wonderful panorama.

Car park: A6187, Grindleford, Hope Valley S32 1DA

Over Owler Tor looking towards Higger Tor and Burbage Rocks (c) Gary WallisOver Owler Tor looking towards Higger Tor and Burbage Rocks (c) Gary Wallis

Over Owler Tor

A short walk north from the car park at Surprise View brings you to Over Owler Tor which is situated on Hathersage Moor. This rocky outcrop, which stands at 1,050 feet (380m), offers exceptional views to the west over Hathersage, the Hope Valley and beyond to the Dark Peak. To the north Higger Tor is a prominent feature with the line of Burbage Rocks visible to the east.

In late August Hathersage Moor comes alive with the heather. This is perhaps one of the best locations as it combines sweeping views with spectacular colour.

Car park: A6187, Grindleford, Hope Valley S32 1DA

Stanage Edge (c) Gary WallisStanage Edge (c) Gary Wallis

Below Stanage Edge

The moorland just below Stanage Edge and overlooking Overstones Farm offers magnificent views of the Dark Peak towards Win Hill, the Hope Valley and Kinder Scout, looming in the background.

The views are made even more picturesque by the stunning colour from the heather that abounds on these moors. I visited this spot on a perfect summer evening and the setting sun was made even more spectacular by some amazing cloud formations.

Car Parks: Stanage Edge, Hook’s Carr (SK 2469 8299) or Hollin Bank (SK 2373 8375), Hope Valley, S32 1BR



Heather locations submitted by the users of the Derbyshire and Peak District Walks facebook group.

The pins do not depict exact locations but the general areas mentioned

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest from the Derbyshire Life and Countryside