Bleaklow from King’s Tree

2015-08-02 15.24.07
One of the sources of the River Derwent, at Swains Greave on Bleaklow (Photo: Judy Lomas)


Shuttle buses run from the visitor centre at Fairholmes to King’s Tree at weekends and bank holidays. At other times you will need to park a car at King’s Tree. The walk follows the northern arm of Howden Reservoir, which the River Derwent flows into. Crossing the river by the bridge at Slippery Stones the route follows the east/north bank of the infant river. The river soon becomes narrow enough to jump over, should you wish to do so! A feint path climbs northwest up the valley through increasingly wild moorland. At a point immediately north of Barrow Stones you should turn southwards and make for Swains Greave, the source of multiple small streams which combine to form the river. I chose the southernmost one of these, near to the 595m spot height on the OS map, to be my unofficial source of the Derwent. Next, head for the prominent Grinah Stones to get your bearings, before striking out southeastwards over the moorland to return as directly as possible to King’s Tree. Try to stay in the centre of the main ridge, following Black Dike for some of the way. Finally, descend into Linch Clough, from where you can exit into the woodland near the bus stop.

Weather Proviso

Walking on Bleaklow is not for the inexperienced. Navigation and conditions underfoot can be difficult. You will need a map and compass and know how to use them. It’s not wise to attempt this walk in conditions of poor visibility. Wait for a clear day, preferably in dry (or frosty) conditions. Depending on your exact route, the mileage and ascent stated below may be exceeded.

Route details on OS Maps


  • Length: At least 9 miles (14.5 km)
  • Ascent: 1952 feet (433 m)
  • Lowest Point: 703 feet (269 m)
  • Highest Point: 1727 feet (592 m)
  • Approximate walking time (excluding stops): 3 hours 45 minutes
  • Refreshments: Fairholmes Visitor Centre (Off route)
  • Highlights:
    • Upper Derwent Valley
    • Jumping across the river for the first time!
    • Finding a source of the river
    • Grinah Stones
    • Being in the wilds of lonely, barren Bleaklow

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