This is not intended as a walk guide
The Vale of Ashover in the upper Amber Valley presents a pastoral landscape of ancient hay meadows and scattered hamlets dotted with characterful gritstone properties, all sheltered by rising woodland slopes, set in an amphitheatre amongst our Derbyshire hills.
This adventurous walk began at the heart of the village after I’d parked near to the Village Hall. A straight line footpath up the side of a field then two dark tunnels followed by a steep grassy bank led us up to the trig point summit of the Fabrick. This elevated area of heathland is so named because it is said stone once quarried here was used in the construction of churches and ecclesiastical buildings.
After admiring spectacular views over Ashover’s extensive parish I then turned to admire Chesterfield and far into the east beyond. Reputedly you can see into South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshife, Leicestershire and Staffordshire from here on a clear day, but not with my dodgy eyesight!
Criss-crossed by quiet country lanes, our ramble was to be a zig-zag circular route. Firstly we followed a road into the hilltop village of Littlemoor before descending towards Eastwood Hall. Now reduced to a small ivy clad ruin, the Hall is famed for having cannon ball damage to its walls following a confrontation between the Royalists and Roundhead armies during the English Civil War in the 17th century.
A left before the Hall took us through the yard of Edges Farm and a woodland track beyond where we enjoyed some welcome shade.
After a bit of road walking we descended a fabulous bridlepath with footbridge over the infant river Amber, where Nellie had a paddle in the adjacent ford as we skirted around Milltown. This was followed by a footpath through hay fields and meadows to Chapel Farm.
It was from here that our route headed westwards as I planned to walk through the cool shade of woodland along the ridge around Ravensnest on our return, but for once my plan got a bit waylaid in more ways than one.
Greenfield Farm and Raven House were both a delight, being well tended and immaculately presented country residences. The track beyond was trimmed like a bowling green, but then Nellie and I went over a stile to cross fields that were very overgrown with nettles, brambles and bracken, so high that it warranted a machete to fight through. It didn’t help that I had chosen to wear shorts so my legs got scratched and stung.
I’d got a map and phone App to know exactly where I should be but it was a bit of a nightmare if truth be told. However, my brave little Nellie saved the day with her sniffer dog nose that picked out the vestiges of a path leading to a long flight of wooden steps up through trees to a stile. I was actually relieved when we emerged onto the well-defined path running along the top of the ridge.
Thankfully we were back on track in more ways than one! We then passed through some open ground and spoils of the former Gregory Mine, said to have been one of the richest lead mines in the Peak District.
Just before Overton Hall our earth path became paved with weathered gritstone slabs, worn away long ago by the boots of weary miners coming to or going home from work. These pavers continued beyond the old carriageway drive to Overton Hall and diagonally across a field to an old holloway path that brought us back to the centre of Ashover.
Before heading for home I popped into the excellent Farm Shop for a tub of refreshing ice cream and some scrumptious local produce.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE:
I’m mummy’s little hero don’t you know. If it wasn’t for me she might still be fighting her way out from that overgrown path! I got extra cuddles and treats for being so brave.
I’ve just got to tell you about my recent strange encounter! I’m a bit of a bird lover but selective toward our feathered friends. For example, I just walk past the hens that waddle around in the village where I live, and I’m not excited by ducks either, but I do get a buzz from birds whizzing over my head. Well! The other day Mum and me went along the lane and up the fields that had been mown, taking my tennis ball for a bit of a play. I was just in the process of retrieving it when something fluttered close overhead and then swooped down as though it was going to try and nick my ball. I wasn’t best pleased and woofed to clear it off. The red kite then floated away over the next field. Perhaps it was hungry and thought my ball was an egg? That would have been a rubbery surprise don’t you think!!