This is a short location guide to one of my favourite parts of the Peak District.
This is a little gem of a location. Located at the end of the Longdendale Valley, it's a secluded spot that millions pass by each year without realising it as they travel along the busy A628 Woodhead road.
The River Etherow starts at the head of the Longdendale Valley, which has been flooded to create 5 reservoirs. Not long into it's journey the Etherow is met by the stream coming from Black Clough. I'm never quite sure what you call this stream! I believe clough means gorge or ravine, but don't know what the stream running down the bottom of a clough is called. So I'll just call it a clough too!
There are actually three Black Cloughs - Near, Far and Middle. It is Middle Black Clough which is home to an impressive 10m waterfall. There is a lovely walk by the side of the clough through the trees leading to the waterfall. Note that you need to cross the river to get to the waterfall, so wear suitable footwear and use caution - especially after heavy rainfall when the river may be impassable.
Middle Black Clough is just off the A628(T) Woodhead Road. On the map at the bottom you'll see a P for the car park. There is a short road leading down to the car park from the A628, next to the entrance of the Woodhead Tunnel.
Once you're parked, head over the bridge and then cross the stile immediately on your left. Follow this path until it takes a turn to the right at the junction of the Etherow and Black Clough. As you continue on the path you'll see a ford across the river, but keep on the same path with the stream on your left. Shortly after entering the trees you will see another stream emerging from the far side - this is Far Black Clough.
You'll soon come to the remains of some shooting cabins in a wide open area. Stay on the path until it takes a steep turn up the hillside. At this point you will see a cascade in front of you, and a small island in the stream. With great care, cross the stream using the various boulders as stepping stones.
Once on the other side, a path to the right should become obvious. Follow this keeping the stream to your right until you come to another river junction - this is where Near (on the right) and Middle (on the left) Black Clough meet. Keep to the path with the river on the right. There will be several largish boulders that you have to scramble across but the path should be obvious enough. It won't be long until you can see and hear the waterfall.
It takes about 20 minutes to get there from the car park.
On the walk there are some lovely rocks in the stream which I find interesting subjects in their own right. With the overhanging trees there are many classic "stream with green trees" shots to be had. Also keep an eye out for foam in the water, particularly after rainfall. This can create some interesting swirls in a long exposure. You can spend an hour or two working this stretch of river without ever crossing the river to get to the waterfall.
Once on the other side I think there are some lovely rocks in Middle Black Clough that are also worth exploring, though by this point the allure of the waterfall is strong!
Then there is the waterfall itself, which is quite a scene! As you might expect, there are steep sides all around the waterfall and you're working in quite a small area. Assuming there hasn't been too much rain you should be able to cross the stream to shoot both sides of the fall. I find the far side more pleasing with the curve of the moss covered rocks leading the eye round to the waterfall (as seen in the topmost image). Given the tight spaces, you're likely going to want quite a wide lens (17mm or 21mm) if you want to get most of the waterfall in.
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