Transition Chesterfield have produced a series of 6 leaflets of car-free walks in the Peak District for people who don’t have cars or who want to leave them at home. These have been funded by the Peak District National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund, and are supported by Peak Connections - they are available to download below. Below the summaries printed here is some extra information and more descriptive material that it wasn’t possible to fit on the leaflets themselves, plus links to better versions of Graham Warren’s wonderful drawings (and some of his additional ones). Please note that some bus times have radically changed since these were first published, so check them before setting out. You can do this by by route number at: http://www.derbysbus.info/times/
A walk through three classic English landscapes; tended parkland, farmland and old woodland; fine views of Chatsworth which can’t be seen from any road, and a visit to the unusual model village of Edensor. Distance: 8km or 5 miles (with shorter option of 5km, 3.5 miles), time: 2-3 hours. To see a better version of the illustration used on the leaflet, click here: Chatsworth Sign.
A fairly easy circular walk with fine views; passing a variety of antiquities and through different types of woodland filled with moss-covered rocks. Distance: 6.5km or 4 miles; time about 2.5 hours. This walk can be combined with walk no. 6, the Baslow Circular, to make either a longer or shorter one; see the notes after the walk descriptions. To see a better version of the illustration used on the leaflet, click here: Wellingtons Monument.
A generally easy walk through peaceful dales and woods, the historic mill village of Cressbrook, and along part of the Monsal Trail, finishing after crossing the Monsal Viaduct. Distance 6km or 3.7 miles; 2 - 3 hours (depending on route). To see a better version of the illustration used on the leaflet, click here: Peter’s Stone.
Largely following the Limestone Way, including ancient lanes and through a landscape seemingly unchanged for years. It starts with a long ascent, but is worth it for the splendid, far-reaching views across the surrounding dales. 8.5km or 5.3 miles, about 3 hours. To see a better version of the illustration used on the leaflet, click here: Bonsall Cross.
An easy walk through the tranquil and lovely Bradford and Lathkill Dales, with plenty of paddling spots; then up a steep hill and through the village of Over Haddon and descending over the fields to Bakewell. 9.5km or 6 miles, about 3 hours. This is a walk with several variations; it can be made shorter by starting at Youlgreave or shorter still by starting at Alport, and there is an alternative route from Over Haddon down into Bakewell. See the notes later on for descriptions of these. To see a better version of the illustration used on the leaflet, click here: Conksbury Bridge.
An easily accessible and varied walk, starting with a long (and sometimes steep) ascent to the moors, then along Curbar and Froggatt Edges, descending through woodland and following the tranquil River Derwent back to Baslow. Distance 10km or 6 miles; time about 3 hours. This walk can be combined with the Robin Hood circular to make either a longer one, or by reaching the Wellington monument and then following the Robin Hood route from step 6, a shorter one of about 4.3km. See the descriptions below for details. To see a better version of the illustration used on the leaflet, click here: Froggatt Pinnacle.
Notes and additional information.
Walk no.1: Baslow to Bakewell. The rotating kissing gate in step 1 is an entirely wonderful contraption; pausing inside it will give you some idea of what a parrot feels like in it’s cage, although a parrots screeching is rather more musical than that from the gate as it turns. Queen Mary’s Bower, mentioned in step 2, dates back to the 16th century. It’s name is derived from stories that Queen Mary took the air there during her several periods of captivity at Chatsworth; although it looks like a building, it is simply four walls enclosing an ancient earthwork. Edensor village, then next to the river, was moved in it’s entirety between 1838 and 42, as the then duke didn’t want it to be visible from Chatsworth as it ‘spoiled the view’. Joseph Paxton, who was head gardener at the time and later designed Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition in 1851, is buried in the churchyard.
Walk no. 2: Robin Hood Circular. Like all the local edges, the rocks here are of a type called gritstone. There are many routes to climb up Birchen Edge itself, some difficult enough to need ropes and climbing gear, others suitable for children to scramble up, as well as the path described in the leaflet (although this may be overgrown at times). Nelson’s Monument was erected in 1810, while the Wellington Monument was put up in 1866 by a Dr Wrench, an army man who thought too much emphasis was placed on Nelson.
Near the Wellington Monument you may meet free-roaming but generally placid Highland cows; if there are calves, avoid approaching them as the mothers will be very protective. This is true of most livestock, but it is the farmer’s responsibility to ensure that no dangerous animals have access to areas with public footpaths. In spring and early summer, the woods below the monument glow with the fresh green of the abundant moss and bracken. Further down the path crosses a fine old packhorse bridge of unknown age, while all around the area are traces of Bronze Age settlements, although these may be hard for the untrained eye to see; the sunken track in step 9 may well date back thousands of years. Moorside rocks, mentioned in step 10, are also fun for children to climb over, and, before GW gave them their correct name, were referred to as ‘the jamjar rocks’. Their extra height gives good views across the surrounding dales. GW did several drawings on this walk which can be seen by clicking on the links below:
For anyone looking for a longer walk, this one meets no. 6, the Baslow Circular, immediately after the Wellington Monument. Turn right towards the Eagle stone, and then follow the Baslow circular walk from step 2. The total length of this extended walk is about 12Km or 7.5 miles.
Walk no. 3: Cressbrook Dale to Monsal Head. Cressbrook Dale is home to one of the world’s rarest plants, Derbyshire feather moss, which only grows in one tiny patch somewhere in the dale; it’s exact location is a secret. Cressbrook Mill, mentioned in step 6, is the sight of a previous mill (that burnt down in 1785) built by the industrialist Richard Arkwright, and was one of the early stirrings of the industrial revolution that transformed the country. Cressbrook Mill itself was unusual in that the owner, William Newton, took reasonable care of his workforce, some of whom were imported from slums in London and the south, providing (for the time) decent accommodation and a school for the children, although they still had to work; work at any mill was arduous in the extreme, and that at Cressbrook was no different. This walk can easily be extended by following the signs for The Monsal Trail at Monsal Head; this takes you down to Bakewell, and adds about 5.6km or 3.4 miles to the length.
After doing the walk AF sent an email entitled “Things that delighted me”
To see it, click here.
Walk no. 4: Matlock to Winster. This walk takes you close to places used by lead-miners about 200 years ago and some of the tracks the path uses and crosses were made by them, but, like many others in the area, some may have existed for centuries. The village of Bonsall existed at the time of the Doomsday (correctly spelled Domesday) book survey, in 1087; the cross dates back to at least 1620, but may be much older. The circular base is highly unusual, and the overall height of makes it one of the tallest crosses in Derbyshire. Parts of the church date back to the 13th century, although it was largely rebuilt in the 1860’s. Winster’s Market Hall is 500 or 600 years old (there is no accurate record of it’s construction date), but it has had alterations made more recently.
It has been suggested that, given the relative infrequency and irregularity of buses to Winster, this walk might be better done the other way, i.e. starting in Winster. We haven’t tried this, but it should be reasonably straightforward, as it mostly follows the well-signposted Limestone Way.
Walk no. 5: Middleton to Bakewell. Starting at Youlgreave to shorten the walk (or taking a diversion from the main route) will give you a chance to see All Saints church, widely admired as one of the most impressive in Derbyshire. Parts of it date from about 1300, and while it has been rebuilt in places this has been carried out with care and sympathy.
If starting from Youlgreave, there are two possible routes. One is to go down Bradford Road, which runs past the side of the church (you can walk through the churchyard if you got off the bus just before it), then, where the road forks, go to the left and further along take the signposted bridleway (which starts from the same place as a public footpath). The bridleway runs to the left of Braemar House and down to a low arched bridge; cross that and turn left onto the track, following this to the main road at Alport. Then follow the walking instructions from step 3 - this will make the walk about 7.5km or 4.5 miles. Alteratively, go down Holywell Lane (by the bus stop and just after the Youth Hostel) and follow it to the river Bradford. Turn left through a gate, so that the river is on your right. Then follow the instructions from step 2; this will be slightly longer, about 8km or 5 miles.
To start at Alport, which makes the walk about 6.5km or 4 miles, walk forwards from the bus stop for 50 metres, then follow the instructions from step 3.
The alternative route from Over Haddon is quieter near Bakewell and finishes closer to the town centre, but there is one point which can be quite muddy and, if it has been wet, have standing water; cattle converge there as well, so, in anything but the driest weather, good boots are essential. To follow this alternative, at step 7 of the original description, go to The Lathkill Hotel and follow the route below from there.
At the top of the road past the Lathkill Hotel, where the road turns left, cross the stile straight ahead of you and take the left track across the field to the waymarker. Keep heading in the same direction over another 2 stiles and a gate until you reach a lane, turn right down it to a T-junction (opposite Noton Barn Farm). Turn left and walk about 100 metres along the road to a public footpath marker and gate (ignore the first gate you pass); take the footpath. Where it forks, take the path heading left across the field - in summer this is filled with wild flowers. Go through 2 gates and a couple of gaps, keeping to the main track. Eventually the footpath ends up between 2 stone walls which lead past a cemetery to a church and road. Keep straight on the road past 2 churches, then, at the T-Junction, turn right down the walled footpath, Head downhill and you will come to a T-Junction - turn right and follow the road down into Bakewell town centre.
Rather strangely, even in the wettest weather stretches of both the Bradford and Lathkill rivers can be completely dry, while elsewhere other parts are in full flow. Opinions differ as to why this happens, but it is very likely connected with the large number of mine workings into which the rivers drain, only to re-emerge further down their course. They are both home to a fair variety of water birds; as well as the usual mallards, coots, moorhens (which are smaller, but if you can’t remember which is which, just call them both ‘moots’), swans and so forth, you may see dippers, which feed by walking on the river bottom, using the flow of water to keep them submerged; also herons, tufted ducks, little grebes, grey wagtails and others. Best of all, if you’re lucky, the halcyon, or kingfisher as it is now commonly called.
The wonderful old Conksbury packhorse bridge is named after the nearby but now vanished village of the same name; it was abandoned when the mines in the dales stopped being productive. Estimates as to it’s age vary between 18th century and medieval, which could make it several hundred years older.
Walk no. 6: Baslow Circular. The variety of this walk demonstrates the wonderful diversity of the British landscape. The initial walk up Bar Road from Baslow is steep in places, but there are many places to stop and admire the views of Chatsworth House in it’s parkland setting behind you. It continues along next to Baslow and Froggart edges, with fine views across the dales and to the historic Calver Mill, built by the industrialist Arkwright in the early 19th century (it has now been converted into apartments). Rising on your right is moorland and you can often hear the quintessential upland cry of curlews, although they can be hard to see.
After the Edges, the route takes you down through woodland and then immediately alongside the River Derwent, passing through a small nature reserve before crossing some farmland, ending on a very quiet minor road, following the river as it passes over a series of weirs. The bridge over the river is probably 17th century, and St. Anne’s church, just the other side, has several features dating back many centuries, although the building itself has been heavily modified over time. Few old churches escaped completely unscathed from the Victorian mania for ‘improvement’, although they also undoubtedly restored and preserved many that otherwise might not have survived.
About the walks.
The route for each walk was suggested by a volunteer, who submitted an original description with notes about markers to follow. It was then walked again by another volunteer who checked the original, making notes about any changes or additional features that might make the description clearer, and then another volunteer checked the new version to make sure it was accurate and clear. In a few cases, where there was some confusion, sections would be checked again to clarify the notes. Most of the walks have been done by an 8 year old, and all by a chronic asthmatic; the times are based on a steady pace, but with stops to admire the many fine views and so forth.
It seems likely that some of the bus routes used will have at least part of their timetables curtailed as Derbyshire County Council, which subsidises them, makes cuts to the funding. These are most likely to affect the evening and weekend services; please check before relying on these. This website will allow you to check for bus times by route number:
There are a number of walks on the Peak Connections website http://www.visitpeakdistrict.com/downloads/default.aspx that are accessible by public transport – mainly rail. It also has a very good walking guide, Ride and Ramble, available from Tourist Information Centres.
The Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire section of the Ramblers' Association also do regular walks using public transport. Their walks programme can be viewed at http://www.chesterfieldramblers.org.uk/
7 reasons to leave the car behind when walking in the Peak District:
Thank you to the following volunteers who made these leaflets possible:
Colin Harrison (who also did much of the layout);
Lisa Hopkinson (who organised and co-ordinated everything);
John and Alison Newton;
Graham Warren (who also did the lovely drawings).