Alport Castles is a geological feature situated in the Alport Valley in Northern Derbyshire.
I first learned of it from an image I saw online. I decided that I had to pay it a visit as soon as I could. When planning Fell run routes, I always try to factor a stunning Peakland feature into my routes.
The ‘Castles’ are mounds of gritstone which, are remnants of an ancient landslip. As you head down the Valley you can see them towering over the valley below. In a certain light, the rocky outcrops look like ruined castles.
A Short Steep Fell Race Route
I parked my car on the Snake Pass and headed down the road, turning off at a farm by the roadside. I took the track through the farmyard and followed it for about a mile and a half down the farm track.
About half a mile into the run, I came across some old farm machinery from a bygone era.
All along the hedgerow, there were temporary signs, informing walkers that work was going on to restore and maintain the natural habitats of the valley.
Further down the track, I came to Alport Castles Farm. the farm is beautifully isolated, a real haven for those seeking peace. It was also once the home of a famous Suffragette, Hannah Mitchell
There was a ladder stile here and a path down to the river. I paused for a few minutes to watch a pair of Chaffinches play in the branches of the trees before heading over the bridge and up the rocky path toward my goal. The steep path went up and up between two streams. I soon reached a small plateau, before another small climb curved round to the right. Here an official sign for Alport Castles told me that I was definitely on the right track.
I clambered over a couple of grassy mounds, finding myself in a tight gully strewn with boulders. I knew this was just the start of the landslip and that the best was yet to come.
And there it was. As I reached the top of the gulley the splendour of “The Tower” hit me, it was just as impressive as all the pictures I’d seen.
I wandered up the bank onto a grassy plateau, long tussocks of dry grass made it pretty tricky going. I inspected some smaller landslips, before heading down towards the tower. The size of some of the stones that had fallen from the cliffside was quite worrying, I moved swiftly, lest I get splatted under some giant gritstone slab, that had decided to leap down to send me to my doom.
I decided I’d eat my lunch at the top of the tower, If I could manage to climb up there. It doesn’t look too tall on the photos, but when you are half way up, you realise that a fall might just kill you.
I managed to get about half-way up when my hunger overcame me. I found a nice flat rock and got stuck into my sandwiches.
Whilst I was resting, I sat and watched the Ravens soaring overhead. Their distinctive calls were oddly soothing. I have seen a definite increase in the places that these beautiful birds inhabit in the Peak District.
Eventually, I managed to find a way around the stack and work my way up to the top. From there, I continued to watch and listen to the Ravens, and was lucky enough to get close to one that landed near to me. I even watched them mob and drive of a bird that looked like a Peregrine Falcon, but I couldn’t be 100% sure.
If you fancy a fairly easy walk/run, with a good climb, then I’d definitely recommend Alport Castles. It has everything. A good firm track, wildlife, birds and fantastic views.
Have you been to Alport Castles? How was it for you, leave a comment below.