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Previously Terry Sleaford and I had climbed the S.W. Ridge as a grade 3 scramble. This description is still available – Chrome Hill S.W. Ridge. The original climb avoided the main difficulties by keeping largely to steep grassy tracks. This version tackles the ridge directly and offers a very good mini mountain ridge for anyone with rock climbing experience.
Start/Finish: Earl Sterndale near church SK091 671.
Height gain: 75m.
Grade and rating: 4, Summer **
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 and cross the B5053 road (SK 084 668). Take the footpath heading Westwards below the Southside of Parkhouse Hill to meet the minor road (SK 078 668) which runs North into Doweldale, go North for about 200m, on the road, to find the path on the left (SK 077 671) just before a cattle grid.
The path heads 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. This is quite strenuous, on steep ground and using vague sheep tracks.
Eventually several ridge lines appear on the hillside above. The obvious stepped ridge, which shows the most rock, is the objective (SK 070 673). It is recommended that you gear up before ascending the steep grass which leads to the base of the first. slabby section.
Alternatively, use the approach given for Route 41 to the North Western end of Chrome Hill contouring round South Eastwards about the wall in access land. This provides a longer circular walk if desired.
This straightens out the original line to create a very good mini mountain ridge, similar to Elbow ridge (route 39) in the Winnats Pass.
There are a few hard moves around the ‘very difficult to hard very difficult’ rock climbing grade and a long reach is useful. Protection is good, using a selection of nuts on wire and hexes. Some care is needed as at present there is a little loose rock.
Start as for the original S.W. Ridge at slabby rocks. There is a good crack for a nut belay. Climb above the belay, trending towards the left edge and second small stepped corner in the big overlap. This corner is the crux and involves a high reach for a layaway hold. A strenuous pull enables better holds to be reached and the climbing eases to the narrow ridge and good belays. Climb the slabby rock over a small overlap heading for the right hand corner of the final tower. Good cracks for nut belays and larger hexes.
Either climb the tower direct up the front which is steep to start. For an easier option follow a shallow groove on the right edge behind the belay cracks, trending left to the centre. There’s a spectacular finish onto the horizontal ridge with good belays.
The tower is easier than it appears with good holds but care is needed in case of loose rock. From the belay climb the narrow ridge easily to the summit ridge of Chrome Hill. There is a rock belay just before reaching the top.
A good continuation is to traverse over Chrome Hill, ascend the pinnacle at the start of Park House Hill (from the col behind it), then carry on over Park House Hill and back to the car park in Earl Sterndale village.
For more Scrambles in the Dark Peak check out Tom’s guidebook.