- County: South Yorkshire
- Nearest Town(s): Bamford, Hope
- National Park: Peak District
- Difficulty: Medium
- Time: 2 hours
- Height: 538 m
- Map: OS Explorer OL1 The Peak District, Dark Peak area (OS Explorer Map)*
Where To Park
There are several approaches to the Back Tor trig pillar – if you want to head in from Derwent Water or Ladybower there are several pay and display car parks that offer a good jumping off point. We took a different approach and headed in from Strines. If you follow the road out of Strines past the pub and down around the hairpin bend there is plenty of roadside parking available.
Back Tor offers an opportunity for a high point with an epic view, with Ladybower reservoir, Derwent Water and Cakes of Bread along the way. The web is full of examples of the beautiful walk in from Derwent water, along the edge. Alas, I cannot add much to these routes, as in her infinite wisdom and armed with her trusty OS map (OS Explorer OL1 The Peak District, Dark Peak area (OS Explorer Map), Sam decided that we would approach from behind in a sneak attack and bag the pillar along the way.
We started the walk through the five bar gate and followed the tarmac road upwards. The ascent began quickly with several short steep sections still on the black stuff. Soon the road split, with the right hand fork our desired approach route, while the left becomes a driveway for the nearby farm.
At this point the tarmac gives way to an unmaintained track with a large dike to the right, the track likely only used by the shooting parties that utilise the grouse butts that line the route. Having never known what these mysterious grouse butts were, despite them being on many an OS map, we decided closer investigation was required. Finding only circular mounds with a small shelf seat left us slightly disappointed. We did decide that apart from their actual use they would make excellent shelter in the event of a storm. Our ensuing but terrible grouse impressions still made the small detour worth while.
It should be noted that they can shut off this section of the moor if shooting is underway, making this route untenable. Signs should be placed under such circumstances, but when and how I do not know.
Continuing up the hill there are stunning views across the marshy moors once you reach the top of the ridge. With Dovestone Tor and Cakes of Bread off to the right, the photo opportunities are plentiful. Despite my usual trigger happy nature behind the lens I failed almost entirely to take photos on this walk.
Eventually you reach a post at a t-junction. The left leads to the impressive cakes of bread and the right continues onto Back Tor itself. From here the walk is simple and on a well maintained stone path. Leaving the path would be somewhat treacherous as the land is waterlogged and boggy. If you like your boots clean and dry I would stick to the path, plus there are many unique and protected varieties of wildfowl in this area.
The National Trust High Peak Estate who maintain the paths have signs to ask that you stick to them. This gives a little privacy and quiet time to the breeding birds. Short of playing Barry White for them too, I think sticking to the paths is the least we can do.
Given the open nature and high level of exposure, the top tends to be windy. In all but the sunniest of weather it may feel cold. Along this stretch of the path you can turn to see Ladybower in the distance, again offering good Instagram opportunities (again, I definitely missed a trick here!)
View from the Pillar
The pillar itself is easily visible on an outcrop atop the Tor, but does require a slight scramble to get to. Failing that you can walk up the gently inclined boulder in front, but it does require a small jump over a gap which is probably best for those who are more sure footed. The pillar appeared well maintained and despite it being a beautifully sunny bank holiday with the associated number of other walkers, the pillar itself was relatively quiet for taking photos. I wish the same could be said for some of those found atop the more popular peak district ascents, such as Mam Tor.
The view from the Back Tor trig pillar is impressive, offering a panoramic vista of the peaks. There is, however, an alternate view point accessible on the path just past the pillar (or on the ascent if coming from Derwent water direction).
Past the Pillar
If you carry on past the Tor there is an even more fantastic viewpoint. We followed the obvious path back down the hill, but take care if the path is wet as sections can be slippy and off camber. The viewpoint was clearly marked by the Lost Lad Toposcope and the view was beautiful in the Easter sun.
The return journey via the same path was simple, but by mid afternoon and given the boggy surroundings and beautiful sunshine the area had a few buzzy and bitey things. Despite the steep descent on tarmac at the far end, the short drive to the pub and a quick cider in the sun made it all worth while.
Back Tor is a beautiful spot and easily up there with our favourite spots within the Peak District. The walk in from Strines offers walkers a different and far quieter approach to a popular trig point. Well worth the little extra drive from the more popular tourist destinations of Hope and Hathersage.
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