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Walking to the Wheel Stones on Derwent Edge – Peak District

Derwent Edge as you might imagine, overlooks the Derwent valley in Derbyshire and the walk includes some beautiful scenery. There are several routes up to the edge, some easier walking than others. It is a Millstone grit escarpment and lies within the Peak District National Park.

Walking-Derwent-Edge-Peak-District Walking to the Wheel Stones on Derwent Edge – Peak District

The highest point is at Back Tor with an elevation of 1765ft /538 Metres, the edge continues to overlook the valley, with Ladybower, Derwent and Howden reservoirs below, it then becomes known as Howden Edge and continues into south Yorkshire. I’m planning to walk the full length of the edge at some point, maybe next year, but on this walk we were taking a gentler pace with my second eldest son and little grandson Elijah and we walked as far as the Wheel Stones, White Tor in sight a little further ahead. 

Sitting-on-the-Wheel-Stones Walking to the Wheel Stones on Derwent Edge – Peak District

We parked at Ladybower reservoir and booted up; I had my trusty LL Bean boots on which I knew would be perfect for this walk. We’d packed up a lunch and each had our 1ltr refillable water bottles and rolled up raincoats packed, just in-case. Derbyshire weather can be deceiving at times, and windy up on top of the edges. So, with both cars parked and everyone ready, including little Elijah in his hiking carrier, off we walked.

Derwent-Edge-the-Wheel-Stones Walking to the Wheel Stones on Derwent Edge – Peak District

Of the many different routes to choose, we took a trail near to The Ladybower Inn. The trail here forks in two directions, we took the lower path which goes through Ladybower nature reserve where you’ll find so much wildlife thriving if you are observant. Stay on the same path without taking any diversions, over a stream and then through a metal gate. After the gate the scene is mainly moorland and mostly rather flat for a distance, a perfect spot to let Elijah stretch his little legs and have stroll.

Elijah-walking-in-Derbyshire Walking to the Wheel Stones on Derwent Edge – Peak District

Dogs of course need to be on a lead, there are sheep grazing throughout the area. Elijah had a wonderful time exploring this moorland landscape, looking at the heather and watching sheep while he toddled along the path with a big grin on his face like a Cheshire cat.  

James-on-Derwent-Edge Walking to the Wheel Stones on Derwent Edge – Peak District

The trail turns a corner and gets slightly more rugged, more heather now, and some of it in full bloom attracting bees, and my lens! Elijah was back in his backpack carrier, being carried by James, his dad. Elijah sang nursery rhymes and pointed out the flowers on the way. This is probably one of the gentlest routes, quite gradual and winds its way slowly up, but with a scenic view for sure along the whole length of it. A good one to choose for the whole family, we could have taken a more direct route, steeper and cutting out a whole chunk of this winding one, but life is journey and so is a day trip. 

Derwent-Edge Walking to the Wheel Stones on Derwent Edge – Peak District

We were certainly lucky with the weather, and although the higher we got, the winder it became, the raincoats weren’t needed once. Soon rock formations were visible, I do enjoy rugged, rocky landscapes.

Derwent-Edge-views-over-Ladybower Walking to the Wheel Stones on Derwent Edge – Peak District

One last stretch of the legs up hill and we could see for miles from Derwent Edge, across Ladybower reservoir in the Derwent Valley and over the hills including Crook hill just over the valley. Win Hill was to our left, another special walk that we’ve taken so many times over the years and in all kinds of weather since our eldest lads were Elijah’s age. Some of the rocky landscape has unusual features along the edge, look out for the rocky Tors as you walk the Derwent edge, especially White Tor, Back Tor and the Salt Cellar, plus the Wheel Stones.

The-Wheels-Stones-on-Derwent-Edge Walking to the Wheel Stones on Derwent Edge – Peak District

John and I, had found ourselves a nice spot on the rocky edge to unpack our lunch and settle a while, James took care of Elijah and kept him further back from the rocky edge to have his lunch, also out the wind. The wind was getting a little stronger up here, luckily, we’d all found a place to hunker down out of the wind but with lovely views. It’s so peaceful here and I could stay for hours just looking at those views, during the summer there’s so many shades of colour, and on a good clear day you can see for miles around, maybe even get a little glimpse of Kinder Scout if you look carefully into the horizon, Derwent Edge is a part of the Kinder Scout Millstone grit. This gritstone once covered the whole of the Peak District before the glaciers changed the landscape forever during the last Ice Age. 

The-Wheel-Stones Walking to the Wheel Stones on Derwent Edge – Peak District

Our lunch break, however long, didn’t feel long enough somehow. Those views and the tranquility are just breathtakingly lovely. We all had enjoyed our little break and re-fuel, including the dogs, Smokey and Bandit, with whom we obviously shared lunch with, they seemed quite partial to my salmon and cream cheese sandwiches! It was time to move on however and further along the Derwent Edge to see more of the gritstone tors and rocky scenery. I kept sprinting ahead with Smokey on his lead, who thought this was fun, then snapped photos and explored the next piece of rugged landscape. Soon we had arrived at the Wheel Stones and I climbed up onto one of the large boulders amongst a stunning array of strangely shaped gritstone, soon finding a fun place to sit and admire the remarkable vista, my boots took care of my feet the whole time, not once did they slip while exploring up there on the rocks.

Derwent-edge-overlooking-Derwent-Valley Walking to the Wheel Stones on Derwent Edge – Peak District

I would have loved to continue further along the edge to explore more of the gritstone tors along the route, but we all agreed that it was far enough with young Elijah in tow, who was now getting tired and with the wind in his face up there, it was only right to call it a day at that point and bring him back down where the wind wasn’t as strong. It was decided that we could explore Derwent edge further another time and maybe try a different route on our next trip to mix it up a little, perhaps coming up from Howden reservoir or from the path beside Ladybower. It was the path beside Ladybower that took us down into the valley again, a little steep to begin as we descended, but it soon petered out into a pleasant easy trail surrounded by unfurling ferns and fragrant pine trees. We stopped once more in the shade to give Elijah some snacks and a drink, and to let him stretch his legs again. It wasn’t too long before reaching the Snake Pass road, A57 and close to where we’d parked our cars. We all enjoyed the walk and had fun, it is certainly going to be explored again no doubt at all, I can’t wait to see more of Derwent Edge or even Howden Edge next time. 😊

Written by Janine Moore

Janine lives in Nottinghamshire with her husband and two youngest children. A love of animals and the countryside stems from a childhood living by the river Trent and spending hours watching the local wildlife.
Photography has been a hobby for many years and the camera is never far from her side.

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