Search Results : derbyshire

Mar 142020

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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Winster and its surrounding countryside were once a roaring, clanking, fume-laden lead mining environment, but you’d scarcely guess that nowadays. The grey-roofed hillside village lies along its jitties, a tight tangle of picturesque laneways that overlook a beautiful green valley. Only the velvety nap of the lumps and bulges on the hill slopes tells of the spoil heaps and mineshafts now sinking back into the landscape.

Under a sky of unblemished blue we threaded our way down the jitties and through the village. A path paved with old stone flags hollowed by countless feet led down across wet pastures into the valley and up again to the former packhorse road of Clough Lane.

Rutted, puddled, stony and scarred, the old way led east between its flanking stone walls. As it dipped and snaked through the wooded banks of Cowley Knowl, we saw ahead through the leafless trees the houses of Matlock wedged under their hill across the valley. Beyond, the skyline was broken by a fantastic cluster of black towers and battlements – the silhouette of Riber Castle, a grand 19th-century baronial pile built by Matlock mill owner (and millionaire) John Smedley.

In the valley bottom we cast around among old mine heaps to find the path. It rose steeply through Cambridge Wood to reach Wensley, another former lead mining village charmingly placed for views of hill and dale.

Beyond Wensley a green path followed the edge of Wensley Dale through stone walled pastures, then up a long bank peppered with old lead mine shafts, now sunk to mossy dimples in the ground.

At the top we turned along the Limestone Way long-distance trail, crossing tiny walled fields by way of innumerable squeeze stiles, their ancient stone uprights supplemented by tiny wicket gates on springs that snapped shut with a bang. Persons unusually stout of leg would have quite a job to negotiate these.

Lark song shimmered overhead. Pied wagtails hopped and bobbed as they turned over flakes of cow dung, looking for titbits. And as we came in sight of Winster’s pink-grey houses far below, the view opened northward past Darley Dale to Chatsworth House, pale and magnificent, half a dozen miles off, and the cushiony outlines of the South Yorkshire moors far in the distance against the china-blue sky.

Start: Winster South car park, Winster, Derbs DE4 2DR approx (OS ref SK 239602)

Getting there: Bus 172 (Bakewell – Matlock)
Road: Winster is on B5057, signed from A6 (Matlock – Bakewell) at Darley Dale.

Walk (7 miles, moderate, OS Explorer OL24): Right on gravel track to pass houses. Down lane by Rock View cottage; right at junction; right past Bank Cottage, down to cross B5057 at Market House. Down Woodhouse Lane; on down paved path for ¾ mile; north across valley and up to Clough Lane near Ivy House (244617). Right for 1 mile. Descend to T-junction by gateposts at Cowley Knowl (259619). Right to T-junction; right past barrier; fork left (fingerpost) downhill. At bottom, right across footbridge (258617, yellow arrow/YA); steeply up through Cambridge Wood and on to Wensley. Dogleg right/left across road (261610). Down steps; left along path (YA); in 200m fork sharp right uphill (not ‘Snitterton’). Follow path (YAs, stiles) southeast, soon steeply uphill, for 1½ miles. Just before road (271592), right on walled path; cross road and on along Moorlands Lane. In 400m right (266590), following waymarked Limestone Way for 2 miles to Winster.

Lunch/Accommodation: Miners Standard PH, Bank Top, Winster (01629-650279,


 Posted by at 00:30
Jan 192019

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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The trains of the Cromford & High Peak Railway – first drawn by horses, then by steam locomotives – ran through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Derbyshire Peak District. Where horses once plodded with coal and limestone, and tank engines puffed with sparse numbers of passengers, cyclists and walkers now follow the narrow curves of the line, rechristened the High Peak Trail.

On a superb morning, crisp and cold, we joined the trail at Hurdlow. Either side the limestone landscape rolled away, intensely green under the low sun, an upland broken into sharp peaks and shadowy valleys.

At the vast open chasm of Dowlow Quarry we left the High Peak Trail for stone-walled lanes with wonderful high prospects south into a countryside so fractured it resembled a choppy sea. A knobbly path led us in the shadow of High Wheeldon, a conical knoll presented to the National Trust as a war memorial to men of Staffordshire and Derbyshire killed in World War Two.

Down in the lane to Crowdecote they were herding cattle between field and farm. Those in the lane bellowed and trumpeted, and those in the adjacent fields returned the compliment. ‘Bit lively,’ grinned the farmer waiting to turn them into the farmyard.

Crowdecote clung like a limpet to its steep, sunny hillside. Beyond the hamlet there was ice in the hoof pocks of the bridleway, and frost blanketing the fields on the shadowed side of the dale. Limestone outcrops scabbed the high slopes. Pale grey field walls striped the pastures, footed in their own black shadows, resembling giant claw scratches in the ground.

The path led past the crumpled hillocks where Pilsbury Castle once stood – a pair of baileys and a motte, built by the Normans shortly after the Conquest to levy tax on the traders that used the ancient packhorse route through the dale.

We followed the old way through uplands of sheep fields, past standing stones whose edges had been rubbed shiny by sheep easing their manifold itches. A dip and climb past Vincent House farm, another past the farmyard at Darley, and we were bowling along the High Peak Trail towards Hurdlow with sublime hill scenery unrolling on either hand.

Start: Hurdlow car park, Sparklow, Derbs SK17 9QJ (OS ref SK 128659).

Getting there: Bus 442 (Ashbourne) to Bull-i’-th’-Thorn (½ mile by footpath)
Road – Hurdlow car park is off A515 between Pomeroy and Parsley Hay.

Walk (9½ miles, cyclepath and well marked field paths, OS Explorer OL24): North-west along High Peak Trail for 1½ miles to end (111673); left on Cycleway 68. In ½ mile, right on lane (109665) to cross road at Wheeldon Trees (102662). Through gate (fingerpost) down to NT High Wheeldon notice; right downhill (yellow arrow/YA) to road. Left to Crowdecote. Just past Packhorse Inn, left along lane (101652, ‘South Peak Loop’ bridleway). Follow SPW (blue arrows) through fields. In 1 mile pass Pilsbury Castle mounds (115639); left through gate; fork left up footpath; follow YAs over hill, crossing one road (121634), then another at Vincent House farm (137632). Through farmyard (YAs); up right-hand of two parallel tracks. Follow ‘Parsley Hay’ and YAs to cross road at Darley Farm (142637). YAs through farmyard, up field edge to High Peak Trail (143639); left for 2 miles to Hurdlow car park.

Lunch: Royal Oak, Hurdlow SK17 9QJ (01298-83288, – busy, friendly pub near car park.

Accommodation: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Longnor SK17 0NS (01298-83218;

Information: Ashbourne TIC (01335-343666);;;

 Posted by at 01:13
May 122018

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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A beautiful, bitterly cold late spring morning of blue sky in the southern skirts of the Peak District. Carsington Water lay glittering in the sunshine, early joggers already limbering up by the Visitor Centre. Once we’d crossed the Wirksworth road, though, we met no-one on the field paths except sheep.

Young lambs with wriggling tails dived under their mothers’ fleeces to butt and tug at the maternal udder. Around Overtown Farm the corrugations of ancient ridge-and-furrow undulated beneath the grass, a sign that these dandelion-spattered fields have remained unploughed pasture since medieval times.

Hedge roots were lost in a blue blur of forget-me-nots, and trees still scarcely in leaf rang with spring bird calls, chiffchaffs in blurting phrases and lesser whitethroats in ecstatic scribbles of song.

At the Church of St Bartholomew at Hognaston we came across a sign from even more distant ancestors – an 800-year-old image, carved in the tympanum over the south door, of a shepherd, crook in hand, guarding the Lamb of God from the attentions of a wolf, a wild boar and a bushy-tailed fox. Overhead an eagle, having seized its chance, is making off with a long-beaked fowl in its clutches.

Silver-bellied clouds were beginning to sail across the blue sky as we climbed the lane to Atlow Winn. A Jacob ewe with four horns and a fleece of white and tarry brown stared flintily at the two trespassers in its pastures. Four tiny lambs squirmed out of their pen to sniff my hands, attracted by the woolly texture of my fingerless mittens.

As we climbed the steep pastures the backward view widened over the gunmetal grey sheet of Carsington Water in its cradle of hills. At the ridge of Madge Hill a superb forward prospect opened westward across a billowing green landscape to the sharply peaked cliffs of The Roaches, rising above the Staffordshire moorlands fifteen miles off.

A wintry shower rushed out of the west, blowing pellets of snow around us. Winter was not quite done with this countryside, it seemed. We headed back towards Hognaston over fields thick with dandelions, every golden head still turned towards where the sun had been pouring out its springtime warmth and light only moments before.

Start: Carsington Water Visitor Centre, near Wirksworth, Derbyshire DE6 1ST (OS ref SK 241517)

Getting there: Bus 111 (Ashbourne-Matlock). Road: signposted off B5035 (Ashbourne-Wirksworth).

Walk (5¾ miles, easy, OS Explorers OL24, 259): Return to car park entrance; left along cycle/footpath (red trail marker, ‘Carsington Water Circular Route’). In 150m, right (fingerpost) through trees to cross B5035 (239515). Up hedge; in 80m, left through wicket gate/WG. Cross fields through successive gates (yellow arrows/YA). In 2nd field, aim for bottom left corner and squeeze stile (SS) into green lane (237512). Left; in 200m, right through 2 WGs (YA) into field. Left along hedge to SS and on to Green Cottage (WGs) and road (236507).

Ahead up road; left at Hognaston church (235506). In 100m, right at bus shelter through drive gate of Old Hall (footpath post). Follow right-hand wall, through 2 WGs (YA). In field beyond house, follow middle of 3 paths, half left down to WG/SS in bottom left corner (234502). At 2nd WG/SS, keep ahead to cross footbridge, then duckboards (SS, white arrow/WA). Keep same line through succession of SS (WAs). Approach mill buildings, bear left across stream to cross lane (232495). On along left bank to lane at Highfields Farm (232490).

Right; in 100m, right up Winn Lane (‘Unsuitable for Motors’). In 100m fork right (‘The Shaws’). In 600m through ‘Shaws’ entrance gate (224493, WA). Before house, right through gate; half left to cross stile on skyline. Right (WA), heading half left to gate into Atlow Winn farmyard (222494). Left between house and barn; through gate (YA); ahead to stile (YA); half left across field to waymark post by wall gap (221497). Cross step stile; up field edge with wall on right; in 100m, right (YA), bearing half right across ridge to step stile into lane (219498).

Right. In 400m, opposite old metal WG on left, turn right up steps (219503, YA), through trees to cross drive. Through metal WG (fingerpost); half left across field, aiming not for WG, but for metal gate to its left (222504, YA). Descend across fields for 500m to gravel track (228505). Left; in 400m, approaching Hognaston, fork right, descending to village street (234507). Right to church; retrace outward route to car park.

Lunch: Red Lion, Hognaston (01335-370396,

Accommodation: Breach Farm, Carsington DE4 4DD (01629-540265, – immaculate, delightful B&B

Carsington Water Visitor Centre: 01629-540696,

 Posted by at 01:30
Oct 282017

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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A bunch of lads and girls were shouting cheerfully at one another as they punted a ball about the playing field at Rosliston Forestry Centre. Under a brisk sky they gave an upbeat flavour to the start of our walk through the young plantations along the National Forest Way.

What the National Forest has done for a great swath of the post-industrial Midlands is an unsung miracle. Across 200 square miles of countryside dug, delved and scooped into holes by coal mines and quarries, a green flood of trees is being released – 20 million of them. Dozens of small new woodlands, many linked to form wildlife corridors, lie scattered across the scarred landscapes of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire, their skein of footpaths beckoning to walkers.

The National Forest Way forms the spine of this network of paths. We followed the well-marked Way along the edge of Rosliston Wood until we left it for the farmland paths around Caldwell. A hundred starlings blackened the hedges at Longlands Farm, stripping the elderberries until our approach had them whirring off in a cloud like clockwork birds.

We crossed an old railway, a curve of thistles and thick grass in the corn stubble, and threaded our way along the footpath through Long Close Wood among oak, ash and wild cherry now thirty feet tall. Long Close Wood was planted twenty years ago as part of the ‘Woods on your Doorstep’ scheme, a far-thinking initiative that saw 250 new woods created to celebrate the Millennium.

In Top Wood the rowans hung thick with orange berries, the guelder rose bushes with crimson fruit. Hard green crab apples lay where they had tumbled onto the path. Every leaf shone in the sun, making a glitter of the patchwork of gold, green and scarlet. Near Park Farm a row of poplars stood tall as guardsmen with straight backbones and puffed out chests.

The trees of Penguin Wood, planted just ten years ago, stood only shoulder-high. But the ground around them was bright with late-blooming wild flowers – ragwort, plantain, meadowsweet and lady’s bedstraw. We left the young wood and followed the National Forest Way back to Rosliston, scarcely able to believe the transformation of what was, only a generation ago, a dark and derelict landscape.

Start: Rosliston Forestry Centre, Burton Rd, Rosliston, Derbs DE12 8JX (OS ref SK 243176)

Getting there: Bus 22 (not Sunday), Burton-Swadlincote.
Road – M42 (Jct 11), A444 towards Swadlincote, then follow ‘Linton’ and ‘Rosliston’.

Walk (6 miles, forest and field paths, OS Explorer 245): From ‘National Forest Way’/NFW notice at back of car park, go left and follow NFW arrow to right. In 100m cross playing field to bottom right corner. Left on gravel track. In 200m, right; follow NFW past lakes and across a long footbridge (247177). Right along forest edge. In ½ mile, reach a clearing with bench and crossing of tracks (250170). Leave NFW here, turning sharp left on grass path, passing ‘Cauldwell’ signpost. Along field edge to driveway; ahead to road in Caldwell (255173).

Right past Pegasus School. In ¼ mile on right bend, left through gateway (257170, fingerpost); half right across field to cross Cauldwell Road (259167, stiles, fingerposts). Half left across field, aiming for Longlands Farm (261164); left through 2 wicket gates; on along left side of shed. At far end, cross stile; half right across paddock to gate at far right corner. Left up field edge with hedge on left; through gateway; on with wood on left. Over stile; cross field, then old railway (267165). Cross next field; through hedge; half right, aiming left of white house on far side to reach road (270165).

Cross into Long Close Wood (signed). In 20m fork left along north edge of wood. In 150m, at info board, right along Public Right of Way. In 450m, cross old railway (272159) and on. At a clearing, fork left under electricity wires, past a stile (yellow arrow/YA) and on with poplar hedge on left. Enter Top Wood (271153, signed); in 70m, right (NFW) past Park Farm and on.

In 600m dogleg left/right across road (262156); on past ‘Penguin Wood’ sign across field with trees on right. In 150m turn right, then immediately left over stile into enclosure. Follow grass path to telegraph pole; fork left to cross lower stile; path to north edge of Penguin Wood (259159). Left; follow wood edge as it curves left. In 100m, right across plank bridge; right to footbridge (257159). Ahead (NFW) across large field, aiming to left of Blakenhall Farm. Between 2 oak trees; cross path (255162); past 2 trees beyond; ahead to cross Linton Road (253165).

Along drive, past Cinderlands Cattery (251166), then field edges and forestry outskirts (NFW). Just short of Calves Croft Farm, NFW turns right (249169); keep ahead here to ‘No Public Access’ notice. Left (footpath waymark) round field edge to stile (246170, YA). Right through Rosliston Wood on grass path, past wooden playground, to car park.

Lunch: The Hub Café, Rosliston Forestry Centre

Accommodation: Riverside Hotel, Branston, Staffs DE14 3EP (01283-511234,

Rosliston Forestry Centre: 01283-563483,


I would like to  draw your attention to the Isle of Wight Classic Buses, Beer and Walks Weekend taking place 14/15 October.   This is an annual event and travelling on classic buses – 101 in total – and is absolutely free.    People are encouraged to purchase a £6 programme which details all walks and pubs with maps and timetables, plus £40 worth of offers from participating pubs. 
Here’s a list of walks     

 Posted by at 02:33
Nov 192016

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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On a lovely crisp morning we went up the narrow road from Bowden Bridge with Kinder Edge in our sights and old heroes on our minds. It was up this road that the Mass Trespassers came on an April morning in 1932, a righteous crowd of left-wing youngsters from Manchester and places around. Kinder was their aiming point, too, the great moorland plateau and its gritstone crags that had become symbols of exclusive privilege and the closing of upland country to ordinary folk.

The long path up to the moor led us above Kinder Reservoir through the heather and bilberries of White Brow, then steeply up the rocky cleft of William Clough where a beck came sluicing down over its boulders. The full sweep of Kinder Edge stood out to the east, a sharply cut skyline of dark rock outcrops traversed by diminutive figures of walkers. The flanks of William Clough opened out to shoulders of hillside, where in 1932 a line of keepers had waited with sticks to beat the trespassers back where they belonged.

These young men and women, many of them Communists, had had enough of staring up from the depression-hit, dirty and poverty-ridden cities of Manchester and Sheffield to the high open moors where grouse-shooting and water board interests forbade them to ramble. When they reached the higher slopes of William Clough the singing and chattering turned to angry shouting as they closed with the keepers. No heads were broken: some bumps and bruises were exchanged, and the trespassers broke through to rejoice as they reached the top at Ashop Head.

We pictured that excited, flush-faced crowd as we turned across the peat bog of Ashop Head and climbed to the start of the long escarpment of Kinder Edge. From here it was a question of following the edge for mile after mile, the wind nudging us, the gritstone crunching under our boots, looking out over a magnificent view to Manchester and the far hills of Wales. The rock outcrops had been cut and smoothed by wind and weather into multiple grotesques: chef hats, shark fins, dog heads, ogre noses.

We picnicked on a rock beside the trickling river at the head of the cleft of Kinder Downfall, and went on to where the Pennine Way fell away east towards its starting point at Edale. A good long stare down the delectable green Vale of Edale, and we were trudging westward down an endless lane home, thankful to those hearty lads and lasses from long ago whose bold law-breaking laid the foundations for today’s Right to Roam over all these high moorlands and mountains.

Start: Bowden Bridge car park, Hayfield, Derbyshire, SK22 2LH approx (OS ref SK 049870)

Getting there: Hayfield is at junction of A6015 from New Mills and A624 (Chapel-en-le-Frith to Glossop). Beside Packhorse PH, take Kinder Road; car park is 1 mile on left (£4.50 all day).

Walk: (9 miles, strenuous, OS Explorer OL1): Continue up road. At Booth Sheepwash cross river (051876); in 100m, ahead up path (yellow arrow, YA). In 250m, left across river; at reservoir gate, take cobbled bridleway on left (‘White Brow’). In 300m, by stone gateway, hairpin left (054882, metal ‘bridleway’ sign). Climb to gate; right (‘Snake Inn’, YA). Follow path for 1½ miles via White Brow and William Clough (steep near top) to meet Pennine Way/PW at Ashop Head (065900). Right along PW, following Kinder Edge, for 3½ miles. Beyond large outcrop of Edale Rocks (079867), descend to cairn at junction. Right on flagstone path; 150m short of junction on wide saddle, fork right off PW onto dirt track to junction (081861). Right through gate; follow lane for 2¾ miles down to Kinder Road and car park.

Conditions: Rugged hill walk, tricky underfoot – wear good boots!

Lunch/Accommodation: Sportsman Inn, Kinder Road SK22 2LE (01663-741565)

Kinder Scout mass trespass walk:;;

 Posted by at 01:38
Oct 312015

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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Soft autumn sunlight lay over south-west Derbyshire, tipping the hedges with scarlet berries and showing up the medieval ridge-and-furrow in the fields around Ticknall. Once across the old limestone tramway and into the broad acres of Calke Park, it was all a gentleman’s idealised landscape of graceful old oaks and chestnuts, in whose shade fat white sheep grazed the parkland meadows.

Acres of land and quarries of limestone made the Harpur family’s fortune, and the park they laid out around their Palladian house of Calke Abbey in the 18th century is a dream-like place to wander on a soft autumn day. We followed the National Forest Way as it wound past enormous gold-crowned oaks, bulbous with age, and the long ponds below the house and stables.

The Harpurs (later Harpur-Crewe) were famous for their love of racehorses, their lack of impact when they tried their luck in the political world, and their almost pathological craving for solitude. All they wanted was to be left alone in their great park and house.

When the National Trust acquired the property in 1985 in lieu of death duties, it was as a time capsule, perfectly illustrating the decline of the English country house in the 20th century. There’s no Downton Abbey glamour or polish to Calke Abbey. This is a family house where spending trickled to a stop. Low-wattage bulbs dimly light the mounted heads of favourite cattle, caskets of mineral collections and ancient cartoons pasted onto the wallpaper. It’s all tremendously subfusc and poignant.

From the great house in its hollow we found our way along a back road to the shores of Staunton Harold reservoir, a lion-shaped sheet of water where hundreds of greylag geese trumpeted to the cloudy heavens. In Calke Abbey’s deer enclosure a couple of magnificently antlered fallow bucks were restlessly pawing the ground in anticipation of the rutting season.

Out across stubble fields, and in among the iridescent grey ponds, the steep hummocks and canyons of Calke Limeyards, where limeburners once slaved at the kilns for the Harpur-Crewe family. We ducked through a tramway tunnel towards a chink of green and gold light at the far end, and came out into fields around Ticknall where medieval peasants ploughed the ridge-and-furrow when monks still sang their vespers at Calke Abbey, long centuries before the Harpurs had ever been heard of.

Start: Staff of Life PH, Ticknall, Derbyshire, DE73 7JH (OS ref SK351238)

Getting there: Bus service 61, Derby-Swadlincote
Road – Ticknall is on A514 between Derby and Swadlincote.
Staff of Life PH is on corner of A514 and B5006 road (‘Smisby’).

Walk (6 miles, easy, OS Explorer 245): From Staff of Life PH, left along B5006. In 100m, left (fingerpost) across 2 fields (yellow arrows/YA) to cross tramway path (353235). Cross next field; turn right along gravelled cyclepath. In 250m, opposite Middle Lodge, through gate (357232, ‘National Trust’ sign): emerge from woodland; bear right down left side of driveway. In 200m, pass yellow-topped post/YTP (359229, ‘National Forest Way’/NFW); follow path through trees. In 400m, just before Betty’s Pond, hairpin back on your left at YTP (363228; yellow, blue, pink arrows) up path and steps. At top, right for 100m to ‘Old Man of Calke’ oak (363229).

Return to pass east end of Betty’s Pond. Through gate; bear left on narrow path beside long pond. In 250m, bear right at gate (365228) up steps. In 100m, hairpin left, through gate and car park to Calke Abbey.

Follow path down right side of stable block (NB shop, restaurant). Through gate (367226); on down drive with wall on left; pass church (369223) and on to road (373223). Left; in 450m, at end of road, ahead through wall gap (375226, ‘Maroon Walk’, NFW), down to Staunton Harold reservoir. Left along shore; right across weir (372228). Follow path anticlockwise round edge of deer enclosure. In 700m, through gate; ahead past info board (368233); in 50m, right through gate (YA); left over stile.

Half-right across fields past White Leys house. At far side of second field, path enters hedge. Follow path to right; continue with hedge on left. Over stile (YA) and on with hedge on right. In 300m, path bends right into trees (362236). In 200m look left for gate and stile down a slope. Through gate (NT); follow trail (NT markers) through Calke Limeyards. In 400m, through arch; continue along trail to go through Ticknall Tramway Tunnel (356237). In 200m, right through gate (353235); retrace steps to Ticknall.

Lunch/Accommodation: Staff of Life, Ticknall (01332-862479, – excellent village pub with rooms

Calke Abbey (NT): 01332-863822, House open mid Feb-end Oct; park, restaurant, shop open all year.

Info: Swadlincote TIC (01283-222848);

 Posted by at 01:51
Jan 112014

Litton lay stretched like a sleepy cat along its lanes; a grey stone village, typical of the Derbyshire uplands, in the embrace of green pastures and loosely knit stone walls. First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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It had been too long since I’d had a good day’s walking with my London-based daughter Ruth. Crossing the fields and dropping south into the curving cleft of Tideswell Dale, we chatted away nineteen to the dozen, catching up on each other’s lives.

It’s small wonder that the Peak District is so tremendously popular with walkers, especially the very beautiful and spectacular dales or water-sculpted canyons that burrow their way through the pale grey limestone of the White Peak district. History doesn’t relate whether these strikingly beautiful surroundings were of any comfort to the 19th-century workers – some of them small children – who slaved away in the textile mills in the dank and cold dale bottoms.

In Miller’s Dale we crossed the River Wye beside the mill-workers’ terrace cottages and climbed the steep bank of Priestcliffe Lees, where young Friesian heifers put their rubbery noses over the wall to sandpaper our fingers with glutinous yellow tongues. At Brushfield the old farm-children’s school stood high among stone cottages with massive lintels, looking down into the tree-choked canyon of Taddington Dale.

Down in Monsal Dale we picnicked on a grassy shelf by the gurgling Wye, and then followed the old Buxton-Matlock railway line – now a superb cycleway – into Miller’s Dale, where Cressbrook Mill stood huge and handsome in the throat of the valley. The Brewstop Café behind the mill is run by three siblings (the oldest is 14), and their tea and cakes are a walker’s dream.

In Cressbrook Dale, up where the cleft opens grey rocky lips to the sky high overhead, a great outcrop of limestone hangs over the path – Peter’s Stone, where the bodies of executed felons were once hung in a gibbet as a terrible warning to all. Today, as we turned back along the rim of the dale towards Litton, the dark stain of the past seemed cleaned away by the low evening sun that washed the rock in a flood of gold.

Start: Red Lion, Litton, near Tideswell, Derbyshire, SK17 8QU (OS ref SK 164752)
Getting there: Bus – 173, 65, 66 (Buxton – Tideswell). Road – Litton is signed off A623 Peak Forest – Baslow road at Wardlow Mires near Tideswell
Walk (12 miles, moderate, OS Explorer OL24): From Red Lion, left along village street. Pass ‘Cressbrook’ turning; in 50m, right, then left over stone stile (166751). To far left corner of field; right along lane to road (165749). Ahead to left bend; over stile (fingerpost); follow field path/stiles to cross road (161748). On down to road (160749); left to B6049 (155748). Left for 20m; left through gate; follow wall beside road, past car park (154742) and on along Tideswell Dale. Left at ‘Quarry’ sign (154740) to quarry (155738); follow ‘Concession Path’ to steps back into dale bottom (155736). Left for ½ mile to road in Miller’s Dale (157731).
Left to cottages at Litton Mill; right (159730, ‘Monsal Trail to Miller’s Dale’) across river and up dale side. Cross Monsal Trail (158730); up steps by bridge, left over stile; up path (‘Priestcliffe Lees’), following yellow arrows/YAs. At top, through lumpy mining ground, following left-hand wall to turn left over stile (154725, YA). Right to stile into stony lane (153723). Left for ¾ mile to Middle Farm. At T-junction, left (159715, ‘Monsal Dale’). In ½ mile pass fingerpost (167717, ‘Upper Dale’), in 100m, right (‘Lees Bottom, White Lodge’) to farm track; follow it to farm (167712). Follow ‘path’ sign/YAs onto stony track beyond barn. In 200m, left (168710; fingerpost) over stile; follow stepped path down into Monsal Dale. At bottom, left (171708, ‘Monsal Head’) for 1¼ miles to viaduct (181716).
Left along Monsal Trail for nearly 1 mile. At mouth of Cressbrook Tunnel, right through gate (172724, ‘Cressbrook’) on path descending to cross river beside weir (172728). Bear right on path past Brewstop Café and Cressbrook Mill. At road, left; fork right (‘Cressbrook, Litton’); in ¼ mile, fork right (171732, ‘Ravensdale’). Pass Ravensdale Cottages (172737); in ¼ mile go through gate marked ‘Cressbrook Dale’ (172741); in 100m fork left and follow dale bottom for 1½ miles past Peter’s Rock to A623 (180756) at Wardlow Mires (NB 3 Stags’ Head PH to right). Left along A623 for 100m; left (stile, ‘public footpath’) up field wall to cross stile (177756); across field to cross stile; right up wall to road (173754); left into Litton.
Lunch: Brewstop Café, Cressbrook (weekends, school holidays); 3 Stags’ Heads, Wardlow Mires (01298-872268); Red Lion, Litton (01298-871458).
Accommodation: Cheshire Cheese Inn, Castleton, S33 8WJ (01433-620330; – bustling, cheerful place.
Info: Bakewell TIC (01629-816558);;

 Posted by at 01:41
Oct 192013

Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
Walk Directions (7 miles, easy gradients, OS Explorer 245):

Through gate in car park fence (yellow arrow/YA); past church, along 2 field edges. Cross bridleway (349242, blue arrows); ahead with hedge on left, past Windmill Wood. Through gate under big ash tree (343250); through next gate at Hangman’s Stone and turn left (341252; no waymark), following field edge for ½ mile to road at Bendalls Farm (334249). Left, then right (336248, ‘Foremark Reservoir’) along roadway. In 300 m, by 3 tall wooden posts, right (336245) to reservoir edge (334244). Left for 500 m to Visitor Centre (336241); take path through woods (you soon pass a ‘Carver’s Rocks’ sign). In ¾ mile you cross a wooden stage over a pond in a dip (333229); fork left up bank to ‘Badger Path’ sign (334228); right up steps. At top (334226), right through car park; follow roadway as it curves left.

In 250 m, right through gate in fence (YAs); down stony path to Carver’s Rocks (331227; notice board). Follow path anticlockwise at feet of Rocks for 400 m, up to open area (331225). Ahead to cross it, and keep same direction along grassy path between blocks of trees. In 300 m, in a wet dell (333222 – an angle of fencing is shown on OS Explorer map), don’t bear right or take path past notice board, but keep ahead on lowest path to A514 (334222). Turn right on grassy path with hedge on left between you and road. In 200 m, left across stile, left to cross A514 (334220).

Ahead up Coal Lane. Just beyond entrance to coppice House Farm, left through hedge gap (336220). Ahead with The Oaklands wood on right; cross stile and keep ahead. Round right bend; in 70 m over the first of 2 stiles close together (339221). Follow field edge with fence and ditch on right; follow it round left angle; in another 100 m, through gateway in hedge (341224). In big open field, keep same direction for 150 m; then (342225) bear right (due east) for 300 m to B5006 (346225). Left along road for 400 m, passing side road on right, to reach brick house on right with outbuildings on left (349228). In another 50m, right through hedge and left along gravelled path (disused tramway). In 400 m go through stone tunnel (351232). In another 600 m, at brick mouth of next, longer tunnel (355237), up steps to turn left across tunnel mouth. In field beyond, aim for small brick building ahead (355239). Through gate, down to A514; left; first right to car park.

 Posted by at 01:58
Jul 072013

A brisk wind was hurrying from the north over Derbyshire, pushing grey clouds down the long valley of the River Wye.
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Looking back from the heights of Rowsleymoor Woods across the valley with its intense greens of pasture and hedges, the farther peaks topped with bushy spinneys under a sky of gunmetal grey and Chartres blue, I thought a palette of two or three colours could catch the whole scene.

A pair of mountain-bikers passed me, panting hard. I followed them across a common of peaty soil and pine trees cushioned with big tuffets of moss, and came out of the trees onto the wide green sheep walk of Calton Pastures. This open grassy upland looks more like the undulating, unfenced pastures of Eastern Europe than anything you’d expect to see in the compartmented farmlands of England. Alone in one corner stood an ornate gingerbread cottage with white bargeboard and elaborate window shutters – the Russian Cottage, built as a full-size copy of a model farmhouse given to the 6th Duke of Devonshire in 1855 by his good friend Czar Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias.

The Cavendish family, Dukes of Devonshire, are the power in the land hereabouts. Emerging from New Piece Wood I was overwhelmed by what must be the most striking of all views of their great mansion of Chatsworth House. The building rises beyond the River Derwent’s meadows, an enormous cube of windows and walls among formal gardens, its Emperor Fountain blasting a mare’s-tail jet of water a hundred feet into the air, the pepperpot domes of the 16th-century Hunting Tower rising among the trees beyond. Chatsworth owes a lot of its effect to the sombre wildness of the Peak District moors that back it to the east. A jewel of orderly civilisation in a wilderness setting was the effect that the 1st Duke of Devonshire was aiming for when he built the place in 1687-1707, and even today you can see exactly what he was after.

The 6th Duke was lucky to have the brilliant designer Joseph Paxton as his right-hand man in the mid-19th century when he rebuilt Edensor village just over the hill from the house (having cleared away the existing settlement because it was spoiling his view). I went to pay my respects at Paxton’s tomb behind St Peter’s Church; he lies a little down the hill from the Dukes that commissioned him to design their gardens and glasshouses and estate buildings. Then I went slowly back to Rowsley by way of the flat, wide and lovely meadows along the Derwent.

In 1849 Joseph Paxton designed a beautiful little station for a railway line that was to run up the Derwent valley past Chatsworth. The 6th Duke objected, the line was never built, and now Paxton’s station stands marooned among the retail outlets of Peak Village Shopping Centre in Rowsley – as fine a picture of Dignity and Impudence as you could hope to find.

Start: Walker’s Zone car park, Peak Village Shopping Centre, Rowsley, Derbyshire, DE4 2JE (OS ref SK 258660)

Getting there: Rowsley is on A6 Bakewell-Matlock road
Bus: ‘The Sixes’ (, Bakewell-Matlock; ‘Transpeak’ (, Matlock-Buxton

Walk (9 miles, moderate, OS Explorer OL24): From Grouse & Claret Inn, right on A6 across bridge. Right up Church Lane (256658), which becomes stony lane. In 1¼ miles, at metal barrier, lane forks (244670). Take upward path to right of right-hand fork (BA, ‘Chatsworth’), following BAs through woods and across Calton Pastures for 1¼ miles to descend to wall at Calton Plantations (243286). Through gate; sharp right along wall (BA). In 200m bear left beside gate (244685). Cross pasture near Russian Cottage, following BA (‘Edensor, Chatsworth’). Through shank of New Piece Wood to gate (247689) and view of Chatsworth House. Half right to waymark post; ahead (YA) past Maud’s Plantation and aim for Edensor church spire.

From Edensor cross B6012 (251700); bear right on stony path to Palladian bridge (257702). Don’t cross, but turn right through meadows on Derwent Valley Heritage Way (DVHW). In nearly 1 mile, at mill ruin, right up bank to cross B6012 (258688); left past car park on path marked ‘Garden Centre, Calton Lees’, then minor road to Calton Lees. Left at junction (257682; ‘Rowsley’ fingerpost). By Calton Lees Cottage, left through gate (257680; ‘Rowsley’); follow wall, then DVHW arrows. At end of 2nd big meadow, right over stile (260667, DVHW); on to lane to Rowsley.

Lunch: Edensor Tea Cottage (01246-582315)

Accommodation: Devonshire Arms, Beeley, DE4 2NR (01629-733259;

Chatsworth House:

 Posted by at 15:39
Apr 282012

Excited youngsters were scooting around the old railway station at Miller’s Dale, learning to ride their bikes on a Sunday afternoon in the safe surroundings of the Monsal Trail while their mothers went quietly frantic. ‘Tom! Tom! Just wait there, please!’ ‘But Mum, I can do it, look…!’
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The Peak Park have done a wonderful conversion job on the old railway line through the canyon-like dales between Buxton and Bakewell. It’s hard to credit that passenger and goods trains once rattled under the sheer limestone cliffs and hanging woods where cyclists, walkers and riders now disport themselves. Once we had dropped down the bank into adjoining Monk’s Dale, the leisure crowds melted away and we had the snaking dale and its slippery stone path to ourselves.

Monk’s Dale is just one of dozens of narrow clefts in the limestone countryside of Derbyshire’s White Peak. You’d never know the dale was there at all until you were on its brink. Down in the depths a long damp wood of ash and oak carried us north, until we turned aside to climb the walled lane of the Pennine Bridleway between weather-twisted thorn trees, up to the roof of Wormhill Hill. Up here the whole feel of the country changed dramatically, from a prospect hemmed in by towering cliffs to huge views over rain-swept countryside squared by stone walls and dotted with sheep.

Over the crest beyond Old Hall Farm, a monstrous limestone quarry was soon hidden by screening trees. Fat white rams cropped the pastures with their characteristic, impatient jerks of the head. At Mosley Farm a trio of young sheepdogs came out in a rush to sniff us over. Then it was down the zigzag path into Chee Dale, another stunning view suddenly revealed at the brink of the gorge – sheer pale grey cliffs thick with jackdaws, dreadnought prows of limestone jutting into the dale where handsome arched viaducts carried the old railway line across the River Wye.

Narrowly avoiding death by hurtling cyclist (where’s your bloody bell, boy?) we turned along the Monsal Trail, through lamp-lit tunnels and over bridges where daredevils were abseiling into the depths, until the old station at Miller’s Dale appeared once more around the bend.

Start & finish: Millers Dale car park, near Tideswell, Derbys SK17 8SN (OS ref SK 138733)

Getting there: Bus: Service 68 (Buxton-Castleton) to Miller’s Dale car park; 65, 66, 193 to Millers Dale on B6049, just below.
Road: A6 (Buxton-Matlock); B6049 to Miller’s Dale. Turn up side road (‘Wormhill’) to car park (moderate charge).

WALK (7 and a half miles, moderate, OS Explorer OL24):
Left up road for 100 m; right over stile (140734; fingerpost). Through gate; left into Monk’s Dale. Valley floor path for 1 and a half miles to road (131753). Left; in 50 m, left up steep path; follow ‘Pennine Bridleway’/PBW. At top of rise, right at T-junction (129747) along walled lane to road (122745). Right for 50 m; left (PBW) into Old Hall farmyard. Left (‘bridleway’) through gate. Pass old barn on right; through left-hand of 2 gates; on with wall on right. Keep ahead through hunting gates for two thirds of a mile to road (110746). Follow PBW for 1 and a quarter miles to Mosley Farm (115730). Through farmyard (‘footpath’ signs); just beyond, left through gate (PBW); descend into Chee Dale; left, and follow Monsal Trail to Miller’s Dale car park.

NB: Slippery path in Monk’s Dale!

Lunch: Picnic; or Red Lion, Littleton (01298-871458;

Accommodation: George Hotel, Tideswell (01298-871382;;
Ravenstor Youth Hostel, Miller’s Dale (0845-371-9655;

Readers’ Walks: Come and enjoy a country walk with our experts!
Holy Island, Northumberland 13 May; Scottish Borders 10 June; Northern Ireland 8 July. Info:

 Posted by at 01:16