Monday, 4 June 2012

When is Pike Low not Pike Low? When it's Pike Lowe

Not to be confused with the not so distant hill of Pike Low along side Ladybower, Pike Lowe is a peak clearly seen from Langsett Reservoir. In my previous post I had done a little reccy work for Pike Lowe, this weekend I went up.

Pike Lowe, the cairn clearly visible.
For Pike Lowe I went the opposite way around Langsett Reservoir to last weekend. Across the Dam Wall and a couple of hundred meters up the road leads to the Bridleway off to your right.

Langsett Reservoir.

The Bridleway parallels the edge of the forest and leads to the small hamlet of Upper Midhope. From the edge of the Hamlet there is a clear view of Pike Lowe about 1.5 miles away.

Pike Lowe from Upper Midhope.
Taking a left at the top of the path onto the road through the hamlet after approximately 50 meters there is a right turn. Here the path goes down hill to a small parking area and a service road for the forest. Turn right down the road and through the forest.

Path through the forest.

As you get to the far end of the forest overlooking where Thickwoods Brook flows into Langsett there is a path going left up along side the wood. The path is clearly marked on the post nearby, but is not on the OS maps. 

The path can be seen alongside the trees. The post in the foreground shows directions to it.

The path works it's way up the hill with Range Moor to your left. Thickwoods Brook remains on your right. After about 500 meters you take a turn to the left which brings you up on to a road. This was once one of the roads used by the army as part of the Tank firing range. Thickwoods Brook is still visible. There is also a sign up here warning of the Fire Danger present on the Moor. So no flames around here please.

Heading up to Sugden Clough.

As you make your way up the road it splits into three. I managed to remember a little of what Martin, the Peak District Park Ranger had told me last weekend. So you take the right hand road. As the area is open access, I suppose you could take any you want. Just take care if you do, walking off the beaten track can be risky. It's hard to see under heather, so ankle breakers are a constant risk. Taking the right hand road takes you down to the Brook and across an old concrete bridge.

Langsett Reservoir just visible from near the concrete bridge.

The road climbs fairly steeply up a very stony section of road. There is a switchback and just above this you come to a couple of old targets. These brick and concrete targets have clearly seen better days. I presume they are World War Two vintage.

One of the wrecked targets.

From the target itself there is a clear view of the area around Langsett Reservoir. I imagine in bad weather it could also provide a little shelter.

The view from the target.

As you continue up the road towards Sugden Clough you come across a building that is fenced off. I think this must be something to do with the Grouse Butts in the area. The path is clearly marked to the left of the fence around the building continuing up the Clough.

About 30 meters up here the path drops off to the left and over a very small bridge that crosses Thickwoods Brook. Be careful here if it is wet as the banking on each side of the bridge is quite steep. The bridge is a single plank and again care is needed.

The narrow bridge over the Brook.

Once across the bridge there is a path that heads in the direction of Pike Lowe between Grouse Butts. There's a lot of peat bogs in this area. I did happen to notice a foot print up here. So it would seem others have been here too. I say this because I hadn't at this point seen another person once leaving the main path around Langsett.

We are not alone!
As you go past the Grouse Butts the path gets a little vague. There are however white stakes marking the way up Pike Lowe which are worth following. 

The path that leads part way to Pike Lowe.

At this point I chose to zig zag my way up the hill. Firstly it helps make the ascent easier, and secondly I was able to avoid areas that looked more prone to damage from footfall and instead aimed for areas where there was little vegetation or rocky. As I said previously, this area is Open Access land, but even so, care should be taken to respect the environment. Once at the top there is a small path that leads up to the Cairn. The Cairn has never been anything special here, but there used to be a low shelter which now seems to have been wrecked. Either the wind gets scarily fast up here, or someone helped the shelter fall. Nuff said!

The Cairn and vandalised shelter.

I spent around ten minutes on the peak to take photos and then headed back down the way I had come. On previous trips up Mickleden Edge I had noticed a double track that crosses the top of the Edge. This track comes across the Edge directly from the East. I could see, from Pike Lowe's summit a similar track continuing on up from Sugden Clough in a westerly direction. I decided this would be my way back. I headed back down and back to the small bridge. On the way back to the bridge I noticed an all too familiar site up here, fire damage.

A fire damaged section of moorland.

I made my way back down to the bridge which would take me across to the other side and off in a westerly direction.

That little bridge again.

Heading west and up the hill, I found this path come track reasonably accessible, although in very wet weather gaiters would be a must. The path threads through between the Grouse Butts and steadily the incline decreases. The distance is around three quarters of a mile to Mickleden Edge.

Track heading over to Mickleden Edge.

I love it when a plan comes together. The track dropped down into Mickleden Edge to join up with the main path through Mickleden.

Mickleden Edge dead ahead.

The path down Mickleden Edge is well walked. In fact, at busy times, it's the most walked path I've come across so far. A far contrast from the seclusion of Pike Lowe. It's also very popular with cyclists, so expect to do some regular dodging and the standard issue eyes in the back of your head are called for. Some cyclists are great at letting you know they are coming, some seem to be an accident waiting to happen.

The path down Mickleden Edge.

There are times when you get glimpses of Pike Lowe from the path. To be honest, Pike Lowe is no huge mountain, it's no Scafell Pike either. Not even a Black Hill. But it seems it's walked rarely. And that's what made me want to go up there. And walking down the busy path from Mickleden Edge to Langsett made me appreciate the experience even more.

Pick Lowe from Hingcliff Common.

So, as last week, but in reverse I headed down to The Porter of Little Don River to head back around Langsett Reservoir and back to the Car Park.

The Porter of Little Don River.

Even from down here alongside the reservoir Pike Lowe is quite a dominant feature of the landscape.

Pike Lowe from Langsett Reservoir.

So, if you want some peace and quiet, I would highly recommend a venture up Pike Lowe. It's not so much the physical challenge but the satisfaction in getting away from the norm and going somewhere few seem to tread. It is a distance of around 7.5 miles and will only take a few hours. But I very much think you'll be glad you did.

Remember that the map is not to scale and is only a guide. Please refer to an OS Map or similar to plan your route.