Peak District Walk - Longshaw Estate and Burbage
PUBLISHED: 22:54 04 February 2014 | UPDATED: 15:32 03 May 2020
This fine walk, chosen especially for those in the south of the region, takes you along moorland tracks and through woodland
The National Trust’s 1,000 acre Longshaw Estate with its mix of woodland and moors has been a popular day out from Sheffield ever since it was acquired in 1931. Before that access was a little trickier as it was owned by the Duke of Rutland who used it for shooting and built the magnificent lodge which now houses the estate’s visitor centre and tea rooms. It’s large pay and display car park is still the easiest place to begin walks in the area.
From the car park take the signed path to the visitor centre and then turn right along the access track and where it meets the public road cross over and take the path through the trees marked Burbage Brook. At a fork in the path take the fainter right hand line to a gate onto the main Hathersage to Sheffield road. Cross straight over by a small car park and go through two gates to enter the Burbage Valley. Ahead the flat-topped summits of Higger Tor and Carl Wark give a foretaste of the later stages of the walk. Above the path, prows of gritstone jut out from the moorland edge adding drama to the view. Their colour changes with the light and the weather, sometimes cloaked in green lichen, sometimes dark and forbidding but in bright sunshine become an inviting silver which has lured generations of rock climbers form Sheffield and the surrounding cities. It is a rare days when you will not see some of them at play.
This section follows the broad track, known as the Duke’s Drive, a hangover from the days when the Longshaw Estate belonged to the Duke of Rutland, and through the valley. It gives an easy couple of miles underfoot as it curls below the crags and climbs gently towards the head of the valley.
Look across the hillside to the left for the preposterously titled block of Higger Tor, a 45ft/14m high natural Tower of Pisa which looks as though it ought to have rolled down the hillside long ago but which continues to defy gravity.
The Drive ends at a road. Turn left to cross Burbage Upper Bridge and then turn left again into the car park which offers an alternative, though less natural start, for those who want to avoid charges. Almost immediately take a metal gate to the other rim of the valley and take the right hand fork of the path which sets off around the edge. After a few hundred yards the flat top of Higger Tor comes back into view with the path leading unerringly towards it. From the top pick any of the several paths that clamber down through the boulders making for the lower plateau of Carl Wark but once at the bottom of the slope it is worth diverting leftwards a few hundred yards to admire the leaning block and perhaps have the chance to marvel at rock climbers scaling its overhanging face.
From the block return along the same path and make for the lower plateau of Carl Wark, once the site of an Iron Age fort which covered a couple of acres and was defended by earth ramparts and walls of gritstone boulders to add to its natural defences. It may have been re-fortified after the Romans left around 400 AD. To the untrained eye little remains except for some stone walling and an entrance but there is no denying it commands expansive views over the surrounding area.
From the plateau continue down the path leading to Burbage Lower Bridge. This final section is the wettest of the whole walk and is best avoided after heavy rain. A winter day with the ground frozen hard would be ideal. Various paths cross the area al heading in the general direction of the bridge and the road. Those who stick to the highest ground will emerge the driest shod. There is no bridge across the brook.
At the road, cross over and turn left past the landmark roadside boulder known as the Toad’s Mouth, taking care in crossing the bridge where the footpath disappears. On the other side take a gate on the right and a path which initially follows the brook before turning away leftwards at a fork of cobbled tracks, to go through a gate to rejoin the outward track which is followed back to the visitor centre.
Start/finish: Pay and display car park Longshaw Estate near Hathersage
Distance: 6 miles/9km
Time: 3 hours
Terrain: Moorland tracks, one boggy section after Carl Wark
Parking: Pay and display at Longshaw, free at Burbage Upper Bridge
Map: OS OL 1 Dark Peak