Why You Should Go Visit Three Shires Head

February 13, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

T H R E E  S H I R E S  H E A D

I stepped with an air of anticipation on my second visit to this beauty spot in the Peak District National Park on Axe Edge Moor.   

My destination?  Three Shires Head.

Three-Shires-Head-Panoramic-Long-Exposure-PhotographThree-Shires-Head-Panoramic-Long-Exposure-PhotographThree Shires Head Panoramic Long Exposure Photograph by landscape photographer Matthew Couper.

A little history

Three Shires Head (TSH) is named for just that, the meeting place of three shires, namely, Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.  I was told by another walking that you'd need to get your feet wet in order to successfully manage to stand in all three shires at once, but that it's potentially doable.  A quaint little packhorse bridge spans the River Dane adding a pretty feature point for photographers as the water rushes under before cascading down a few small drops to continue on her way.

It is rumoured that TSH was also once a place for rough sorts to meet up, do shady deals and take part in bare knuckle boxing which was illegal at the time.  However, participants had an out, due to a loophole in the warrants, which were only able to be served in the originating shire.  All they need to do was to hop across the 'border' into one of the other shires and they would be immune from getting 'nicked'. 

Purposeful Journey

Vertical-Panorama-Three-Shires-Head-Peak-DistrictVertical-Panorama-Three-Shires-Head-Peak-DistrictVertical Panorama at Three Shires Head in the Peak District by Matthew Couper.

The swollen river was in full flow after recent rains in the hills above and it wasn't just contained to the river.  I marched with with a constant squelch underfoot.   The route I took down shadows the river having, and while passing old mining or quarry works, I take care to choose my steps well.

A respite and destination for walkers in warmer months there are usually lower water levels, but not today.  My hunch had paid off and I was here to capture some long exposure images of the famed falls rather than 10 rounds of bare knuckle fisticuffs.   Surprisingly, I was to have the place to myself the whole time.

With the seemingly incessant flow of billions of water drops moving in sync as a fluid army on the march under the packhorse bridge before tumbling over the rocky steps with ruthless efficiency, I set about my work, aiming to make the most of having no other people to photobomb the scene.

The noise is almost overpowering at some points because it’s all you can hear and it’s only as I walk away that calm returns to my ears! All this matters not as I am satisfied with today’s “catch”.

I highly recommend visiting Three Shires Head but be sure to wear good boots or wellies as it’s super wet on a lot of the approaches this time of year.  In the summer months the path is generally ok in sturdy walking shoes, but any localised rain can change this.

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Three-Shires-Head-Video-of-Waterfalls-In-MotionThis video my Matthew Couper shows Three Shires Head in the Peak District featuring a lovely waterfall on the River Dane and a Packhorse Bridge.

Three-Shires-Head-Peak-DistrictThree-Shires-Head-Peak-DistrictVertical panorama of Three Shires Head in the Peak District, UK. Text overlay.


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