Lost Lad and Back Tor with Abbey Brook
This is one of my favourite Peak District walks, heading up onto the beautiful moors above Derwent Reservoir. Heading up Walkers Clough, the route passes Lost Lad and Back Tor before wandering along Cartledge Stones Ridge before wandering back down the stunning Abbey Brook, one of the hidden gems of the Peak District.
This route is 10 miles with a steep climb to Lost Lad, and navigation is challenging in places (especially at the top of Abbey Brook) but it’s definitely worth the climb!
I started this walk at Fairholmes, and as it was a really rainy day there was hardly anyone else around. Fairholmes does get REALLY busy on sunny weekends over summer so this made a nice change. I set off towards the imposing Derwent Dam, built in 1916 to create the Derwent Reservoir, and followed the road round until I came to the signpost pointing to Slippery Stones, and then I followed the track north as though I was heading to the front door of the tower. There are some steps to the right which I followed up onto the track that runs around the reservoirs.
After about half a mile I came to the turning for Walkers Clough. Here I made a mistake and took the wrong fork in the path thinking it would save me some time. It didn’t! Take the right hand path and follow the track up to the gate. The route I took headed up through the woods to a gate I had to climb over, a wall I had to follow and then armpit high wet bracken which made it impossible to see the path on the ground! I had to make my way back to the wall, follow it down the steep hillside and pick up the track I SHOULD have taken the first time!
From here it was a simple but steep climb up the hillside. I spotted the ruins of Bamford House and headed across the hillside to have a quick look at them. Bamford House was a farmhouse and outbuildings built before 1767. The views from here back over Derwent Reservoir are amazing! I walked through the complex and followed one of the paths south-east, climbing up the hillside to a cairn.
At the cairn I started on the wrong path (not paying attention!) so quickly retraced my steps to follow the path up the hill alongside the wall. At the top there are stunning views across the moors to Outer Edge and High Stones. Through the gate, the path heads north-east towards Green Sitches and then forks, so I took the left fork to climb up the stone steps to Lost Lad. Lost Lad is marked by a cairn and a toposcope, showing the nearby summits – not that I could see many! The cairn commemorates the demise of a shepherd boy from Derwent sometime in the late 17th century. He apparently went out to collect the sheep from the moor but was caught in a blizzard. He sought shelter in the lee of a rock but he knew he was doomed, so scratched Lost Lad on the rock and died. His body was discovered the following spring when the snow had all melted. The cairn was created in his memory.
From Lost Lad it’s a short walk up the hill to reach Back Tor, an impressive gritstone outcrop with a trig point set high on the rocks. It’s a bit of a climb up the rocks, which can be slippery when it’s wet, to reach the trig point.
After I’d taken a few pics of the trig point I headed over to have a look at some other nearby rocks and take a few pics of the heather, then I rejoined the path that runs along Cartledge Stones Rise. This is a (mostly) paved path that runs for about 2 miles, dropping down and doglegging left after about 1.5 miles and then it reaches a stone cairn. At the cairn I headed east to Abbey Brook, following a very faint path through the heather. There is a boggy bit here which you’re best to go around rather than through! The reeds will show you where it is.
As I followed the path down Abbey Brook it got easier to follow, and the views are amazing as you wander down. The path runs very close to the edge in places and there is a steep drop down to the Brook itself. There are a few waterfalls along the brook itself.
The path passes over Bents Clough and Cogman Clough, where there are the remains of an old barn or shepherd’s shelter just visible, then carries on down the hillside. Eventually it runs alongside a wall adjacent to woodland, and then there is a gate to pass to drop down onto the track around Derwent Reservoir again. From here you can see the remains of the old railway track at Birchenlee used in the construction of the reservoir. The path runs roughly south and heads back to Derwent Dam, and then back to Fairholmes.
This was a really lovely walk, and is especially nice when the heather is blooming. There’s lots of history to see along the way as well. The GPX file shows the right route to follow as we planned it on the OS App, whereas the Komoot is the walk I did, with errors and all, so you can download the proper route and use that one!
Parking: Fairholmes car park – £6 for the day
Facilities: There is a cafe and toilets at Fairholmes.
Walk Time: 4-5 hours
Distance: 10 miles (14.6km)
Elevation: 1525ft (464m)
Trig Points Bagged: Back Tor
Peak District Peaks Bagged: Back Tor, Lost Lad
Peak District Ethels Bagged: Back Tor, Lost Lad
Back Tor and Lost Lad Walk Map:
Some other walks from Fairholmes: