Walking: Cruising the Crags

Wharncliffe Woods and Wharncliffe Crags cover an area of several square miles.

There is plenty of wildlife including tree pipits, nightjars, newts and dragonflies. There are a number of forest tracks and paths that crisscross the woods.

Many of these tracks and paths are not marked on maps. Once you are familiar with the overall layout of the woods it is good to wander off up paths and see where they take you.

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This walk follows the forest track through the lower part of Wharncliffe Woods before climbing to the crags. The route returns along the crags, with views across the valley to the Ewden Valley, Deepcar and Stocksbridge.

1. Go through the gate on the opposite bank of the river to the Lowoods Workmen’s Club. There is a ‘public footpath’ sign to the right of the gate, but it is almost hidden by a tree.

2. Follow the left path along the river. At times of inclement weather, the river path can become very slippy. If this is the case, do not turn left. Instead go straight up the hill, turn left at the top and continue under a railway bridge. When you reach a second railway bridge, you can rejoin our route.

3. Continue along the river under the railway bridge and continue some way to the bridge.

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There are often dippers on this stretch of river. They are easy to spot. They are black with a white throat and breast. When perched on rocks they habitually bob up and down and frequently cock their tail. The bridge was replaced in 2014.

4. At the bridge turn right and climb the steep bank. There are the remnants of steps on the right side, but they have mostly washed away.

5. At the top of the bank the path opens out to a broad track. Turn left and go under the railway bridge.

This was once the Woodhead route (Sheffield to Manchester). It is now part of the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT), a route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders linking the North and Irish seas, which passes through the Pennines, alongside rivers and canals and through historic towns and cities in the North of England.

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6. Continue straight on up to the track through the woods. You will pass a small pond on your right.

7. About 100metres after the pond, the path meets the main forest road. Turn right and go along the track, heading south.

8. Continue along the track as it rises. You will pass under two sets of electricity cables. The path then drops down.

You will pass a TPT marker on your left. Soon after you pass under a third set of cables, the path gently starts to rise.

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9. About 500 m after the third set of cables, at the fork in the paths, by the turning circle, with the marker posts (TPT and other information) take the track to the left which rises up more steeply.

10. At the top of the rise, by the marker sign, take the path off to the left.

11. Continue uphill. At the next marker, take the path on the left up into the woods.

12. After a few hundred metres the path meets another path. Turn left again. This path leads to the top of the crags and views across to the Ewden Valley.

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13. Continue along the path as it goes along the top of the crags.

14. Go through the gate and continue across the crags. There may be sheep grazing in this area.

15. As the path drops down follow the path round to the right.

16. Go through the gate into ‘Wharncliffe Heath Local Nature Reserve,’ and continue along to a large pond.

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17. From the pond go down the steps at the left end of the dam wall. Take the path down through the wood.

Cross the main track and take the path down where we meet up with the path we took coming up the hill. Go straight across.

18. Go past the small pond, on your left, and under the railway bridge. If you want to go back by the river then retrace your steps down the bank to the right. Alternatively carry straight on from the railway bridge along the wide path.

19. This takes you under a second, longer railway bridge, the 1870s branch line which was originally built to serve Stocksbridge Steels. Continue along the track.

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20. There are two options. As the track starts to bend to the left there is a path off to the right. This path passes a large rock marker which indicates the location of a Mesolithic camp and ends with a very steep descent to Station Road.

To avoid this descent don’t take the path to the right, instead stay on the track and follow it round to the left, continuing until it joins Station Road.

Then turn right to return to your starting point.

Wharncliffe Crags and Woods from Deepcar

• Length - 4.0 miles

• Grade - Total ascent ~130 metres. Well defined paths and forest tracks. Both steep and steady climbs. Some rocky footing. Parts can be muddy and slippy in wet weather, especially the riverside path. This is narrow in parts with tree trunks to negotiate.

• Start - Station Road, Deepcar, just beyond the ‘Lowoods Workmen’s Club’ S36 2SQ.

• Grid Reference - SK 292 980.

• Maps – OL1 Dark Peak, OS Explorer 278.

• Parking - Station Road

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• Public transport - Bus to Carr Road, Manchester Road, 23, 23A, 24, 25, 25A, 25B, 57, 201 and SL1/SL1A bus routes.

• Refreshments – None on the route.

• Public Toilets – None on the route.

• This walk is described in detail on Stocksbridge Walkers are Welcome http://www.stocksbridge-walkers.org.uk/walks_around_Stocksbridge.html website.

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