David Fieldhouse has the lowdown on Higger Tor, an accessible location perched high above the little town of Hathersage in the Peak District

Higger Tor Shelter Rock

Shelter Rock. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16-35mm, 1/6sec at f/13, ISO 400. Credit: David Fieldhouse

This classic location offers the photographer so much that it’s a place you’ll keep returning to again and again, and end up with very different results each time. Its flat plateau offers 360° views across the neighbouring moors, which makes it the perfect spot for both sunrise and sunset shoots. A scattering of gritstone rocks provides foreground for a million compositions, some so famous they even carry names like the ‘Kit Kat stones’ and ‘Shelter Rock’.

Being higher than most of its surroundings it can be one of the first places in the area to feel the winter chill, and looks extra special with a dusting of snow or a severe hoar frost. In August the Tor and the local moors come to life when the heather blooms. The neighbouring Hathersage Moor has had the best display of heather in the National Park for the past two years and should not be missed (although I’d strongly recommend you bring midge spray).

With just a tiny bit more effort you can also take a walk back through history to photograph the Tor itself from the ruins of the Iron Age hill fort, Carl Wark, which is just a short wander across the moor.

I simply cannot stress the number of options you have here, and with it being so accessible (a 10- to 15-minute walk from where you park the car) it’s also great when you’re short on time.

Higger Tor Hathersage

View towards Hathersage. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 24-70mm, 1/20sec at f/9.5, ISO 100. Credit: David Fieldhouse

Shooting advice

When to go

This location works in all weathers all year round, and can be used as a sunrise or sunset spot. It’s particularly wonderful during the heather season (mid to late August) and in autumn when the heather starts to die back, turning into all shades of gold, orange and brown. Its close proximity to a car park also means it’s not too far to run for shelter if the rain gets too heavy.

Food and lodging

You are spoiled for choice for places to eat in the local town of Hathersage, where you will find a good selection of traditional pubs, as well as curry houses and Italian restaurants, and so on. Many of the local pubs also offer accommodation such as The Fox House on Hathersage Road towards Sheffield, which makes a perfect base for exploring the neighbouring Padley Gorge and teasingly named ‘Surprise View’.

Word of warning

I’m as guilty as the next person for arriving at a location with a preconceived idea or composition, and while it’s great to have a plan A, nature has a nasty habit of putting on a spectacular display of light over your shoulder. Keep checking your surroundings for changing conditions and try to find an alternative composition just in case. This needn’t be a problem at a location like this, but more of an extra opportunity.

Higger Tor Kit Kat stones

Kit Kat stones. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16-35mm, 1/6sec at f/11, ISO 100. Credit: David Fieldhouse


Kit list

  • Wideangle lens This location has plenty of foreground potential, so it would be a shame to waste it. Shoot wide to capitalise on foreground detail in the rocks and boulders.
  • Grad filters As Higger Tor is elevated, it’s a ‘Big Sky Spot’, and if you’re lucky enough to get epic conditions, graduated filters are handy to balance your exposures.
  • Insect repellent During the summer months the midges are intolerable here. I recommend tropical-strength insect repellent and a head net to ensure your time here isn’t spoiled by the mozzies.

David Fieldhouse is an award-winning freelance photographer from the Midlands. Dave specialises in landscape, street and architectural photography for magazines and corporate clients.