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A Peak Experience Around Dove Stones

A magnificent walk along the edge of the moors is the centrepiece of this grand outing.

Distance 8 miles (12.9km)

Minimum time 3hrs

Ascent/gradient 1,296ft (395m)

Level of difficulty Hard

Paths Mostly on good tracks but with some rocky sections, occasionally very steep, 2 stiles

Landscape Open and exposed moors, with sheltered valleys

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer OL1 Dark Peak

Start/finish SE 013034

Dog friendliness Condition of access to moors is dogs must be on leads

Parking Dovestone Reservoir, pay at weekends

Public toilets At car park

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1 Cross the dam and continue just above the shoreline. Climb up near the end then drop down again to Yeoman Hey Dam.

2 Follow the left side of the reservoir. At a fork keep to the higher path, rising gently to the next dam. Follow the left side of Greenfield Reservoir and then wind on up the narrowing valley. Climb more steeply to more waterworks where the valley forks.

3 Skirt rightwards above a tunnel entrance, then take a rough path up the right branch, Birchen Clough. Cross the stream when a steep little crag blocks the way. The path is steep and rough, with one awkward step just below a 20ft (6m) cascade. Above this the clough is shallower and less steep. After some wet patches the clough opens out, with nearly-level ground on the right.

4 Cross the stream and go up right to a marshy terrace. Keep climbing to the right where the slope is less steep. A path materialises just below the plateau edge, rising gently towards the crags. Cross a stile then follow the top of the crags past the Trinnacle. After about 440yds (402m) the path forks.

5 Go left to a stile, with a cairn just beyond, and a near-level path across the moor. Above a ruin, bear left up a short stony slope, reaching the plateau near Ashway Cross. Continue along the edge of the moor; the path keeps generally level, swinging left to cross a stream then back right. Where the path is unclear follow the boundary between peat and rock. The main path keeps a discreet distance from the edge of Dove Stones. Beyond the isolated Fox Stone the route bears a little left, passing the remains of a stone hut below a crag, Bramley's Cot.

6 Continue along the moor edge, crossing Charnel Clough. The path still keeps generally level, swinging left above the Chew valley until the dam of the Chew Reservoir appears ahead. Watch out for the unfenced edge of a small quarry. Skirt round this and down the grass slope beyond to the reservoir road.

7 Descend the road until the gradient eases. Just before a gate, drop down left to a ridge. Take the obvious rising path beyond. Slant down right before a plantation, past some boulders. Rejoin the road past the sailing club to the car park.

Cheshire's stake in the Peak District National Park is modest, but on this walk you can sample the vast moors so characteristic of the Dark Peak. These are notorious for tough walking over peat and heather, but this is an easy promenade along the edge of the moors; the only hard part is the steep ascent of Birchen Clough.

It starts easily, alongside a series of reservoirs, allowing you to look up to the crags that necklace the skyline. Dove Stones, directly above the start, has a natural edge as well as a large, long-abandoned quarry. You might also ponder what the King of Tonga was doing at Yeoman Hey Dam in 1981. Above the last of the reservoirs, you follow the Greenfield Brook, climbing gently. The forked tower dubbed the Trinnacle is eye-catching - and you'll get a closer look soon. Don't miss the water-sculpted rocks in the bed of the stream.

Now you make the transition from valley to moor, by the steep ascent of Birchen Clough. The steepest step is alongside a small waterfall and, if it really looks uninviting, backtrack a short way to pick up a path (still steep) which traverses above the obstacle. The easier upper reaches of the Clough, and the flanking slopes leading out on to the moor, are home to substantial numbers of Canada geese.

You reach the edge of the moor close to Raven Stones and soon find yourself looking down on the unmistakable Trinnacle. It's a great foreground for photographs and looks even better with someone standing on the top, but the ascent can only be recommended to experienced scramblers. You have to sidle along an exposed ledge below the lowest top; then it's easier climbing to the middle one but there's a long stride across a deep gap to the highest - and it seems a lot longer coming back!

The edge is less defined for a time and you cross a vague shoulder past Ashway Cross before clarity is restored. Above Dove Stones the main path keeps back from the edge, but this is magnificently exposed if you don't mind that sort of thing. Just beyond is the isolated tor of Fox Stone. Here a plaque commemorates two Dark Peak climbers who were killed in the Italian Dolomites.

In wild weather, the ruins of Bramley's Cot, once a shooters' hut, provide the best shelter if you need somewhere to take on food and drink. The end wall still stands and you can see the carved sockets where the roof timbers were set. There's still a mile (1.6km) of moor-edge to go before you drop into the valley of the Chew Brook that gives easy walking back to where you began.

Where to eat and drink

There's usually a tea/hot dog van at the car park in summer and at weekends. The Church Inn, Uppermill (head down the A635, then keep turning right) is a lively place that brews its own beer.

What to look for

The Peak District is at the centre of British rock climbing. The crags of Ravenstones and Dove Stones are not the most popular in the area, but in good weather you're quite likely to see a few climbers here. The boulders alongside the plantation near the end of the walk are also used for intense micro-climbs.

While you're there

Uppermill is the 'capital' of the Saddleworth district, a cluster of no fewer than 14 villages, many of whose inhabitants still feel their first loyalty is to Yorkshire. The Saddleworth Museum is housed in a former mill alongside the canal at Uppermill.

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