A Walk Around Dove Stone Reservoir and Ashway Gap
By Paul Besley
This rugged South Pennine landscape gives a sense of the original meaning of sublime; fearsome, awesome and utterly exhilarating. The ascent of Wilderness Gully West is a classic Peak scramble…
Start: Binn Green car park. GR: SE 018044.
Total Ascent: 442M/1,450FT
Start GR: SE 018044
Time: ALLOW 4 HOURS
SatNav: OL3 7NN
Map: OS EXPLORER OL1, PEAK DISTRICT: DARK PEAK AREA, 1:25,000
Refreshments: The Clarence, GrereHE CLARENCE, GREENFIELD
Navigation: Good navigation skills required for moorland sections.
Beginning the walk around Dove Stone Reservoir gives the opportunity for a spot of bird watching in the surrounding RSPB nature reserve. This is a busy area full of people enjoying the stunning scenery and wildlife. As the route begins its ascent from the valley floor, climbing up the Chew Road towards the sky, a sense of foreboding combined with awe at the towering landscape envelops you.
The grade 1 scramble of Wilderness Gully West is a wonderful introduction to this strange pastime that bridges the gap between walking and climbing. The views from the top are stunning and a worthy prize for all that hard work. Skirting the top of the Chew Valley brings you to Chew Reservoir, once the highest in England, then on to Dish Stone Moss before turningwest across open moorland and a moderate test of navigation and compass skills to reach the edge path at Dish Stone Brow.
“Awe of this incredible landscape”
The names of some of the areas around the valley have macabre connotations, Charnel Clough and Dead Man’s Lay-by are both connected with death. Moving along the edge path brings us to the Cairn on Fox Stone and a memorial to two climbers who fell in the Dolomites. Turning back into the moor brings you to the ford at Ashway Gap and the beginning of the descent to the valley floor and a return to Binn Green. This is a walk in the sublime tradition of our Victorian ancestors invoking fear and awe of this incredible landscape.
1. From the Binn Green car park take the footpath running south down through woodland to a stone stile. Cross the stile and turn left down a walled lane. Go through a gate and shortly afterwards turn right across Yeoman Hey Reservoir dam. Continue straight ahead to follow the wide track around the eastern side of Dove Stone Reservoir until you reach the junction with the southern reservoir track, just after crossing a bridge over a small stream.
2. Bear left and walk up Chew Road for 1.7km passing over a stile by a gate across the road along the way.
3. Begin to look for a comfortable descent to Chew Brook on the right; aim for the right of Wilderness Gully West which is the gully that is closest to Dove Stone Reservoir. Cross Chew Brook by the small footbridge between Chew Hurdles.
Once across work your way to the base of Wilderness Gully West. This is a Grade 1 scramble so should be well within the competence of most walkers but, if in any doubt, use the optional route below. For those enjoying the scramble work your way carefully to the top of the gully choosing the best line for your ability and the conditions of the day. The rock can be slippery when wet and alternative routes via the gully sides can be obtained. At the top of the gully turn left and head to Chew Reservoir. To avoid the scramble continue straight ahead on Chew Road. The path curves round to the right to arrive at Chew Reservoir.
4. Turn left to head northwards across the dam to reach the Peak & Northern Footpath Society signpost.
5. Turn left to walk westwards to reach the edge path above Dish Stone Rocks.
6. The path curves round to the right; continue on following the path heading northwards to reach the Cairn on Fox Stone and the Great Dove Stone Rocks overlooking Dove Stone Reservoir. After passing the cairn continue along the edge path as it swings eastwards and you arrive at a stream.
7. Cross the stream below the waterfall at Ashway Gap and continue walking northwards until the path splits below the Ashway Stone.
8. Take the left fork to descend the hillside, keeping to the right of the conduit that feeds water into the reservoir. Go over the stile and walk down the steep slope to rejoin the eastern reservoir track.
9. Turn right and retrace your steps back to Binn Green car park.
Feature taken from ‘Day Walks in the South Pennines’ by Paul Besley, published by Vertebrate Publishing, £11.96