The Snake Pass, between the western arm of the Ladybower Reservoir at Ashopton and Glossop, is one of the shortest routes linking Sheffield and Manchester. It reaches a height of 1,680ft at Snake Summit. The road is well known from winter weather forecasts: it is one of the first roads to close in winter snows – and one of the last to reopen.
Despite what some people think, the pass takes its name from the serpent-headed coat of arms of the Dukes of Devonshire, and not from its winding nature. The Dukes of Devonshire and Norfolk, both prominent local landowners, contributed greatly towards the cost of the Sheffield to Glossop Turnpike road when it was constructed between 1818 and 1821, to a design by the Sheffield surveyor, William Fairbank.
About two miles to the west of here is The Snake Pass Inn, originally known as Lady Clough House. It was built in 1821 by the 6th Duke of Devonshire. The name of the road is thought to have been taken from the Duke’s snake emblem which formerly welcomed visitors over the inn’s front door.
Next, cross the A57 (with care) and descend to the infant River Ashop. Take the track signposted ‘Upper Derwent’ towards Rowlee Bridge. In woodland now, cross the water conduit and follow the footpath which leads down to cross the A57 again, opposite Hagg Farm, an outdoor education centre run by Nottinghamshire County Council.
This trail was originally created by Roly Smith for the Royal Geographical Society’s Discovering Britain. Thanks are also due to Helen Rawling for editing the walk and to Chris Speight FRGS, CGeog, RGS-IBG Trustee for checking the route and providing feedback.
Roly is a keen walker and the author of over 90 books on the British countryside. He has been recently described as one of Britain’s most knowledgeable countryside writers.