Upper Derwent via Cut Gate
Difficulty level: 5 (1 to 5 scale - 1 is easy)
Distance: 20.00 km Ascent: 500m
Estimated time: 6:00 hours
Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 map sheet(s): 110
The Outdoor Leisure Map 1 - Dark Peak 1:25000 scale
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The Cut Gate bridleway is one of the oldest rights of way in the Peak and a traverse of this route is one of the classic Peak District walks. The path climbs high over Midhope moors to cross the watershed between Outer Edge and Margery Hill, at a height of approximately 530 metres (1600 feet). It is the highest of the major paths across into the Derwent Valley.
This route describes a round-trip from Langsett into the Upper Derwent, going out and returning by the Cut Gate path. It is a fairly energetic day and, though there are no serious route-finding problems, the top of these moors is not a good place to get caught in bad weather.
Start from the car park behind the information centre at Langsett. From the south-west corner of the car park a path leads into the woods surrounding Langsett reservoir - follow this west around the reservoir, avoiding any branches which lead off up the hillside. It is a very pretty path, and at length you emerge from the woods and meet a wide track which comes across your path. This is the main Cut Gate path which starts from a stile further up the A616, near the Flouch Inn.
Turn left and follow the track across the Little Don stream, then zig-zag steeply up the hillside along the edge of the forest to emerge on the moor above, the angle easing somewhat as the path goes across the moor. Continue over the side of Hingcliff Hill, dip down to cross a brook and then climb again to reach Mickleden Edge, in a fine position above Mickleden Beck. Looking back there are fine views over towards Penistone and the windfarms nearby, and on a good day you can clearly see Drax powerstation, about 50 kilometres away.
The path follows Mickleden Edge for about a kilometre and a half before it reaches a side-branch of the stream and follows this up for a short way. It then heads approximately south-west across the hillside to reach the top of the next stream system to the south and cuts across this to emerge on the crest of the ridge a little over five kilometres since crossing the Little Don. The path is very well marked and easy to follow, but the top section can be rather boggy after heavy rain.
If the weather is fine then the summit is a superb viewpoint, with the Upper Derwent laid out below you and Kinder and Bleaklow clearly visible. After stopping to admire it (or curse the cloud for obscuring it), descend the path on the Derwent side to Slippery Stones - again, this is very well marked and mostly paved, so routefinding is quite easy.
Just above Slippery Stones turn left (south) along the land-rover track which winds around the eastern side of the Derwent reservoirs. This is uninteresting walking but the situation is fine, with good views across Howden reservoir, when the trees allow it. Follow it to about 200 metres past Howden dam, where it turns a corner to cross Abbey Brook, and then take a well-marked track which heads diagonally uphill through the woods. Continue up this path, heading generally about north-east and climbing steadily until you reach the scarp at the top of Howden Moors.
Now the path turns north, following a line along the edge of the scarp. It's in a fine position and gives more excellent views, leading easily back to the top of the Cut Gate path, a distance of about 3 kilometres. Though most of this path is easy to follow, it becomes rather boggy and indistinct towards the end, just past Margery Hill - if you lose it here then just head north to meet the Cut Gate path. Retrace your steps down Cut Gate to return to Langsett.
This route can also be started from the Upper Midhope entrance to Langsett reservoir - follow a well-marked track around the south side of the reservoir to a point just before the boundary of Open Country and a ruined farm. About 100 metres before this a path branches left and heads uphill to join the main one at the foot of Mickleden Edge.
0 - Langsett Reservoir view
1 - Cut Gate path - Mickleden Edge
2 - Cut Gate path summit
3 - Upper Derwent - Slippery Stones packhorse bridge