BL Walk 6.                Buxton to Dove Holes

The Route:    Buxton station, Lightwood Road, Flint Clough, Black Edge, Hob Tor, Lady Low, Cowlow Lane, Station Road, Dove Holes station

Starting point:        Buxton station. (G.R. SK 058737)

Distance:     4.34 miles (7 km)

Ascent:        904 feet (276 metres)

Map:            OS outdoor Leisure No. 24, The White Peak

How to get there:  Daily train service to Buxton from Manchester and Stockport. Daily train service from Dove Holes to Manchester and Stockport and Buxton.     

The Walk:    On leaving Buxton station, turn right, up Palace Road, noting the nicely restored fanlight window, which still boasts the name of the pre-grouping railway company that built it. 

Time was when there was a matching structure on the other side of the main road, this one built by the Midland Railway company, but the rail closures of the 1960’s saw the demise of that station and with it the Midland’s fanlight.  Fortunately, the London and North Western’s station survived and is now a listed building.

Continue up Palace Road ignoring turns to the left.  Pass St. Thomas More School and then turn left along a footpath between the school and the Royal Mail’s sorting office.  The path soon reaches Lightwood Road and here you turn left.

Flint Clough
Photo by Martin Smith
Walk up Lightwood Road, ignoring turns left and right.  At the end of the houses the road becomes a rough track, heading into woodland and with the deepening cleft of Flint Clough to your right.  You pass a couple of disused stone buildings that were originally connected with the Lightwood reservoirs management and soon emerge into an open area where, if you are using an old map you would expect to see a dam and a lake. 
Not any more.  The reservoirs were abandoned in 2006/7and Severn Trent has won awards for the restoration work they have done at this site.  One of the key objectives of the work was to minimise the amount of waste sent to landfill.  This particular scheme was intended to make a positive contribution to biodiversity in the sensitive the upland Peak District landscape. The reservoir was drained, leaving behind the brick and concrete lining and dam walls. The linings, dams, water tower and valve chambers were demolished. The concrete and brick waste was buried on site; leaving no material to be disposed of to landfill  Meanwhile, spoil from the dams was used to reprofile the sides of the reservoir to form a natural valley shape.  Four pools were retained in the bed of the former reservoir to encourage wildlife and aquatic vegetation. Certainly when this walk was recce’d there was a group of naturalists busy making notes of the flora and fauna. 
The track continues round the edge of the former reservoir, but on the left is a bridge over the spillway.  Go over the bridge and follow the path up through the bracken and into the trees.  The path is clear until you come to a large sycamore with multiple low branches.  Skirt round the back of this and thus locate the path, now running more or less level.  You soon emerge from the trees onto a bracken-cloaked hillside.  This would be a very trouser-wetting walk after rain.  Flint Clough now lies deeply to your right and the path soon reaches a small outcrop of rock, an ideal place to pause and take in the view over Buxton.
The path splits here.  To your left is a tempting gap in the intake wall, but this is not your route and in any case there is a deep ditch just the other side of the wall.  Instead continue a little further to what passes for a stile, right on the edge of Flint Clough.  Take great care here, as there is an almost sheer drop to the right and very close to the path.  There has been at least one accident here requiring the Mountain Rescue service to be called out.  Once over the stile, an obvious path continues up Flint Clough.  The first few yards need care as the ground falls away steeply to the right, but this is soon past.
The path then dips into Flint Clough, crosses the stream and then makes its way back to the intake wall, which is then followed, with improving views to the right as you go up the moor.  After about a mile, you reach a ruined cross wall and a small roofless shelter. 

Here you enter the Peak District National Park.  You may well ask what is the difference between the moorland you have just walked on and this piece, which warrants its National Park status.  The answer is “politics”.  Hitherto you have been in the former Municipal Borough of Buxton and the inclusion of that bit of moorland would have necessitated a member of the borough council being on the Planning Board, so it wasn’t included.  Now that the whole area is part of High Peak Borough Council and the borough is represented on the National Park Authority, surely it is high time there was some rationalisation of the Park boundaries? 

Shelter on Black Edge
Photo by Martin Smith
You are almost at the highest point of the walk at 506 metres – but not quite.  Ahead you can see the trig point on Black Edge, which manages another metre in height. 
However, the view from point 506 is very extensive and this is perhaps not surprising, because here you are on the main English watershed.  To the west you can see Axe Edge, Shining Tor and the Cat and Fiddle, whilst through the gap between these hills and Ladder Hill there’s a glimpse of cooling towers, which must be Fiddlers Ferry power station near Warrington.  Southwards it is possible to pick out Minninglow and Harboro’ Rocks, whilst eastwards the view stretches over the various huge quarry workings in Peak Dale and Great Rocks Dale to Win Hill and Mam Tor.  Northwards you’ve got Chinley Churn, Mount Famine and Kinder, but you can also discern ranges of hills way beyond these.
Continue along Black Edge, still with the wall to your right and thus reach the highest point of the walk at the trig point.  Downhill all the way from now on.

Continue along Black Edge, with Dove Holes village in view ahead and to your right.  After a further ½ mile or so, the path bears away from the wall to climb gently up to Hob Tor.  The wall runs at the base of the tor and you can discern the route of descent through the curious L shaped bit of access land and over Lady Low.  Follow the path over Hob Tor until you rejoin the wall and here turn right.  A sketchy path runs down beside the wall to the wall corner.  At this point you should be able to get into the adjoining access land, but there is neither stile nor gate.  However, there are some cunningly placed fence posts to assist your passage over the wall, so over you go, making sure you don’t get impaled on the barbed wire.

Trig Point
Photo by Martin Smith
Follow the wall on your left and as it swings left you reach the boundary wall of the Lady Low portion of access land.  When you were on Hob Tor, you probably spotted a gateway through this wall and an obvious path beyond it.  On closer inspection you’ll find the gateway blocked by a barbed wire fence. Sounds familiar?  The only way across is to climb the wall on the left had side.
Thereafter, the path that you saw earlier turns out to be made by cloven-hoofed animals of the woolly variety, but no matter, it leads unerringly to the summit of Lady Low.  The barrow, from which the hill gets its name, is on the left and the path swings round to the right of the mound then runs across the north face of the hill.
Lady Low is a grand viewpoint for the northern hills beyond Chinley and Chapel, with Kinder featuring prominently. 
Down below you can see Cowlow Lane and, to your great surprise you’ll notice there is a gate onto the road.  Descend the steep grassy slope to the gate, only to find (of course) that it doesn’t open easily (or at all), so it’s over the top again and so onto the road.
Turn right along Cowlow Lane for an easy ¾ mile stroll down to Dove Holes station.