Higger Tor 5 mile walk
...popular five miler
The twin tors of Higger and Carl Wark dominate the Upper Burbage Valley which rises above the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate and the Fox House Inn. This is a popular arena for school parties and visitors from nearby Sheffield, and is rich in history and legend
The Duke of Rutland built Longshaw Lodge around 1830 as a shooting lodge for visiting house parties intent on bagging grouse from the surrounding moors after the “Glorious Twelfth” of August each year. It is now best known as the venue for one of the Peak’s major sheepdog trials, held in September. The National Trust acquired part of the estate when it was sold off in the 1930s, and the house was converted into flats.
The estate is now run as a country park, with a new Moorland Discovery Centre for school groups, a visitor centre, shop, restaurant and toilets. The most important area for nature conservation is the old oak and birch woodland of Padley Gorge, downstream from the lodge, which is famous for its population of migrant pied flycatchers in summer.
From Longshaw Lodge turn right and go out through the gatehouse. Cross the road (B6521) and take the broad path through the mixed trees and which then runs parallel with the A625 to cross it opposite a small area used for parking. A sign just past here on the road leads to the upper path running along the top of Burbage Rocks on the edge of Burbage Moor.
There is a little gap in the ridge, where the rocks give way to heather as the path drops down and a path leads right towards Houndkirk Moor. Bear left here to reach the crest of the northern part of Burbage Rocks.
Abandoned millstones and grindstones litter the old quarries constructed in the face of Burbage Rocks from where they were fashioned. The industry was very important locally from medieval times, but by 1800 the industry was running down partly because of foreign imports and partly because the Peak millstones made grey flour when white bread was more popular.
The former quarries such as Millstone and those at Burbage now make excellent venues for rock climbers, and they are often to be seen below Burbage Rocks.
The views from here extend across the dark plantations in the bottom of the valley of Burbage Brook to the outcrops of Carl Wark and Higger Tor and beyond to the Mam Tor ridge and Win Hill. The broad track which runs below the rocks is known as the Duke’s Drive, another reminder of the Duke of Rutland’s shooting parties, and is an alternative route.
The edge path is followed all the way to Upper Burbage Bridge, which is seen ahead. Cross the stream here and contour below the Fiddler’s Elbow Road left towards the first rocky slopes of Higger Tor ahead.
The rock-fringed plateau of Higger Tor (434m/1,424ft.) is punctuated by weird tors of grey gritstone, the most prominent of which is the awesome Leaning Buttress on its southern edge. These are also popular places for climbers who enjoy their vertiginous challenges. The name simply means “higher” tor, and must have been originally named by the occupants of Carl Wark, which is now visible on the moor beneath.
Clamber down through the boulders of Higger on a sandy path which leads across the moor to the impressive entrance to Carl Wark below.
The huge stones of the 3m/10ft high monumental wall on three sides of this natural little plateau are very impressive. Usually attributed to the Iron Age and sometimes to as late as the Dark Ages, this formidable defensive position may be as early as the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, according to the latest archaeological theories. Certainly, the moorland between here and Over Owler Tor to the south has revealed extensive prehistoric field systems and clearance cairns, which could well date from as early as that period.
Walk down from Carl Wark on the path which leads from its western end down to the road junction at Toad’s Mouth – another weirdly-shaped rock which juts out over the road and bears more than a passing resemblance to its namesake, especially as someone has carved an eye above the mouth.
Follow the road left to rejoin the path back to Longshaw Lodge across the road through the trees on the right.
Start/finish: Longshaw Car Park on the B6055 near the Fox House Inn
Distance: About 8km/5 miles
Approximate time: Allow three hours
Highest point: Higger Tor 434m/1,424ft
Maps: OS Explorer Sheet 1, The Dark Peak
Refreshments: At Longshaw Lodge and there is usually a mobile café at Upper Burbage Bridge in summer
Terrain: Easy moorland paths
These walks have been adapted from Roly Smith’s Rambler’s Guide to the Peak District, published by Harper Collins
Copyright Let's Stay Peak District
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015