Waterfalls In The Peaks
Waterfalls And Weirs
As a visitor or a resident to the wonderful world that is the Peak District National Park, you will know how wonderfully lush and green, rugged and exciting the Derbyshire landscape actually is. We have steep sided dales and huge hills, moors that stretch for miles, with crystal clear flowing waters ribboned throughout the area. We also have a few waterfalls, some that are there all the time and some that only magically appear if we have had a lot of snow or rain.
The tallest waterfall in the Peak District is called Kinder Downfall and is 30 m high. It lies on the River Kinder, which flows west over the edge of Kinder Scout, a moorland plateau in the Dark Peak, which is the highest point of not only the Peak District, but the highest point in Derbyshire and also the highest point in the whole of the East Midlands. It is accessible from the villages of Edale and Hayfield in the High Peak and was originally known as Kinder Scut. It's this name that the plateau gets its name from. It is usually little more than a trickle in summer but if there has been heavy snow or rain, it is extremely impressive. In certain weather conditions such as a strong westerly wind, the water blows back on itself and the cloud of spray can be seen from miles away. The Downfall flows into the Kinder reservoir, and in cold winters, the waterfall freezes providing local mountaineers and an adventure in itself, a challenge that can be climbed with ropes, crampons and ice axes. There is also a secondary waterfall, more of a cascade really, at Grindsbrook Clough on Kinder Scout, flowing fast over colourful slate steps.
A waterfall which is well hidden from view and is virtually unknown, unless you know where to look is Waterfall Swallet near Eyam. A 'swallet' is defined as 'a place where water breaks in on miners' but the waterfall here is actually no such thing. It is a delightful surprise and is hidden from view at the side of the road between Foolow and Eyam in a deep, subterranean cleft of craggy limestone, which is sheltered by a small copse of trees. In winter the plunging waters can be seen from the roadside, but in summer it is a slight trickle. Because it is alongside a narrow stretch of road side, it is impossible to park near it, but it's a nice walk from Eyam and well worth the trek. But please remember Waterfall Swallet is privately owned and is not open to the public so can only be viewed from the road. It is possible to get down to the bottom of it, although sometimes it is muddy and potentially dangerous, especially in Winter.
Crowden Brook is more of a cascade and is in Edale in the Peak District. After a short walk up into Crowden Clough the waterfall can be seen and heard first here. Relatively small it is about 10 feet at its highest point, but what it lacks in size certainly makes up for in the glorious visual appeal of it. It is a great place for photographers as long as you have a stout pair of Wellington's. The cascading waters and beautifully stepped rock formations offer a really colourful and photogenic waterfall and it is easy to get to and very accessible.
Panniers Pool and Three Shire's Head is an area of real outstanding beauty, which marks the Cheshire border. On the East of the River, the border between Staffordshire and Derbyshire runs north-east for about a mile, thus giving this area its name. The main landmark is the beautiful ancient packhorse bridge and the waterfalls as the River Dane flows southwards, are very picturesque and frequently featured on calendars. The waters flow into Panniers Pool where ponies once were allowed to drink, having a rest from carrying their heavy panniers or saddlebags This moorland area is of interest for its population of moths and butterflies. It is best approached on foot from a variety of locations.
Padley Gorge is a very deep but narrow valley in the Peak District and is one of the finest remaining examples of oak and birch woodland which once covered many Dark Peak valleys. The watercourse from Burbage Brook starts off quite gently until it gets to the gorge and then tumbles over the massive boulders, creating several very impressive waterfalls which are present at all times of the year. It is really magical place, and is great for the children as the mossy covered tree roots could be mistaken for a modern-day Fairy Glen. It is very easy to get to by car and is a short walk from the road.
Lumsdale Falls are situated in the Lumsdale Valley, near Matlock and is an outstandingly beautiful area with a very interesting history. The Bentley Brook flows through a small wooded gorge and within quite a small distance, there are the remains of three pools to see and six waterwheels. Rising at Matlock Moor and flowing south through Cuckoostone Dale, it flows under the main A road and into Lumsdale where it gathers the valley's waters and enters the disused mill pond or reservoir. It then flows over a waterfall in the course of passing the several historical mill ruins.
Lathkilldale is one of the finest valleys of the limestone White Peak and the upper part is a National Nature reserve in the care of English nature. The River here is a magical one because it is a disappearing river, when in summer or after long spells of dry weather the River follows an underground route and appears from a series of solid holes downstream. It is one of the smallest rivers in Derbyshire, but is also one of the prettiest and has a series of 11 weirs, the deepest one being known as The Blue Waters due to its colour. After rainfall this waterfall is simply spectacular and has been featured in many a calendar advertising the Peak District.
Monsal Dale Valley was formed from an uplift of limestone and is known as the Derbyshire Dome, or the White Peak and is a site of special scientific interest. A short walk can be made from Monsal Head down into the Dale, crossing the river over the footbridge and following the River Wye downstream where you will reach the point where the river tumbles over an impressive weir that has been featured on many postcards and calendars.
Rivelin Valley was once one of the industrial heartlands of Sheffield. The river was used to power millstones and there are derelict cottages and grinding mechanism is found along the river to testify to this. There are several cascades of waterfalls running through the valley and it is a great place to have a picnic. There are bridges of fallen trees and great shallow places to paddle for the children.
Birchens Clough Is a steep and rocky area which has a reasonably sized waterfall in its upper reaches. There is a path up the valley and the terrain is very much as wild as you can get in the Peak District. It is possible to stand on top of the waterfall here and have views down for miles and there are some steep boulder strewn slopes, which soon get tiring. Birchens Clough in the Chew Valley is a real hiker's walk and not for the faint hearted, but is well worth a day out. From here and it is possible to walk to Charnel Clough, which is an inconsequential stream, which has delusions of grandeur and tries to perform the Kinder Downfall trick of flowing upstream in the wind, spraying mist everywhere!
Chatsworth Weir is in the River Derwent, very near to Chatsworth house itself. The River flows with half its course through the Peak District and is 66 miles long. Most of its course is rural and provided power to the first industrial scale cotton mills between Matlock and Derby. Today it provides water supply to several surrounding cities but is probably the most scenic as it flows through Chatsworth estate. It is a very popular place for a picnic and a paddle.
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