Another new scrambling route in the Peak District
Terry Sleaford - author of the Cicerone guidebook Scrambles in the Dark Peak has discovered another new scrambling route.
Chrome Hill SW Ridge
Start/Finish Earl Sterndale (near church SK 091 671)
Height gain 75m
Grade and rating 3 (summer), 2/3 (winter)
This ridge offers an alternative way to reach the summit of Chrome Hill, but is rather more taxing than the normal approach (see Route 41). Steep grass, followed by two pitches of slabby angled limestone and a final narrow ridge, lead to the top just to the left of the summit. Combined with an ascent of the pinnacle at the foot of Parkhouse Hill on the return leg, it offers an absorbing excursion, while in winter, under a covering of snow, a very interesting ‘mini-mountain’ experience with great photo opportunities can be enjoyed. The use of a rope and protection is recommended.
The most convenient parking is in Earl Sterndale, usually near the church. From there, pick up the path at the rear of the ‘Quiet Woman’ pub (SK 090 670) to descend westwards through fields to join the B5053 road (SK 084 668).
Cross the road and take the footpath leading westwards below the south side of Parkhouse Hill to meet another minor road (SK 078 668) that runs north into Doweldale. Head north on this road for about 200m to find the path on the left (SK 077 671), just before a cattle grid, that leads up the minor ridge to Chrome Hill.
Follow the path uphill and cross a stile into access land. Now turn left (west) and contour above the fence/wall around the base of Chrome Hill on steep ground using vague sheep tracks. Eventually, several ridge lines appear on the hillside above. The obvious stepped ridge, with a horizontal break near the bottom and showing the most continuous rock, is the objective (SK 070 673, and see photo). A steep approach over scree and then grass leads to the base of the first well-cracked slabby rock section.
Alternatively, use the approach given for Route 41 to the north-western end of Chrome Hill. Ignore the usual path to the main ridge and instead contour south-eastwards (to the right) above the wall, staying in access land, to arrive at the steep scree/grass approach described above.
Once the base of the first slabby rock is reached, a good crack provides a belay on small grass footholds. Climb more or less directly to the first steepening, which can be avoided to the right on grass. Head back left as soon as possible to the ridge proper to arrive below another slabby section where a belay can be taken. Go up this slab and over a small overlap to a steep nose with good cracks for belays. Skirt this to the right on steep grass then move back left as soon as possible to rejoin the ridge, which is quite narrow here. Cross this to another steepening and move up grassy rock to belays. More grass leads to the main ridge, just to the left of the summit.
Descend the south-east ridge of Chrome Hill, heading for the pinnacle below Parkhouse Hill’s west ridge. This can most easily be climbed from the ‘col’ behind the pinnacle itself, reached by the normal ridge path to the right. There are belays just below the top. Care will be needed when descending back to the col and the use of a rope is recommended. Return to the start point by going over Parkhouse Hill’s summit to rejoin the outward path.
Bred, born and still living in Nottingham, Terry was 23 years old before he climbed his first proper rock routes at Lawrencefield Quarry in the Peak District and his climbing career soon peaked at leading v.diffs! After a few years of being dragged up harder routes, he decided that the life of a 'crag rat' was not for him.
A weekend away in Snowdonia in the late 70's opened his eyes to other possibilities and he began to restrict his climbing activity to trips to Wales, the Lakes and the highlands and islands of Scotland, gradually extending his skills to include winter snow and ice climbing. As he got older, the combination of a walk into the mountains, followed by a few hundred feet of steady scrambling to reach the summit, became his idea of a good day out.