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It was Leap Day and the weather was mild, so Nellie and I set off for a ramble over moorland before the ‘short lead’ rule to protect ground nesting birds came in on 1st March.

After parking up on the bend of the closed road at the top of Hell Bank Plantation, we set off down the old coach road to Chatsworth and then went over a high wall stile beside a gate. Way back in 1970 I remember this being the film location used in the DH Lawrence adaptation of The Virgin And The Gypsy where Franco Nero and his family had their gypsy caravan encampment.

A right after a few yards and we followed a concessionary footpath toward Bunkers Hill Wood then uphill to Hob Hurst House. This Bronze Age barrow is said to be unique because it was rectangular in shape as defined by stone markers erected in the 1880’s when it was designated as being an ancient monument. The VR inscription refers to Victoria Regina.

Our route now was on a lonely and narrow path over heather-clad moorland to the rear of Harland Edge, finding our way by following in the footprints of previous walkers. At times it was a case of hop, skip and jump through saturated ground and peat bog. As we approached a particularly large puddle I spied something move and heard a distinctive plop. I was then thrilled to see a coupling of toads swimming around in the murky depths, soon to result in threads of tapioca spawn.

Apart from a few grazing sheep and cattle, the moors were deserted and it was lovely for Nellie and I to feel free and alone. For over a mile we bog-trotted over Hipper Sick, where little tributary streams of the River Hipper are sourced.

The path eventually led us to Syda Lane from where there were far reaching views over Chestefield with the crooked spire looking like a corkscrew twisting up from amid surrounding buildings.

We turned right and walked to a junction then passed through a gate opposite to follow a bridlepath, passing an inscribed stone pillar erected in 2000 as a boundary stone for Within All West and the eastern edge of the Peak District National Park.

To follow the bridlepath we followed hoof prints and cycle tyre tracks that led us through an avenue of green and red ‘private land’ signs. It was very wet and gloopy along this flank of Holy Moor with muddy water splashing over my boots, baptising my feet!

We slipped, slithered and sploshed our way down to Harewood Lane then turned right to pass Harewood Grange where a settlement is thought to have existed since 1207 when it was in the possession of Beauchief Abbey in Sheffield. Holy Moor is named due to its proximity to the monastic grange where monks lived and worked on their medieval enclosure. It is also how Holymoorside got its name. The original grange buildings are thought to have been demolished by 1539. A later property built here was once owned by the son of Sir Richard Arkwright, which is probably why a nearby wood is called Arkwright Plantation. It then passed to the ownership of Chatsworth before being sold into private hands in 1957.

We followed this quiet lane to a crossroads and then went straight ahead to return to the car. As the road down to Beeley is still closed to traffic we had to drive back up Chesterfield Road. However, just before a crossroads with the bumpy track of Flash Lane on our right I stopped the car to take photos of one of my favourite landmarks – a wonderful guide stoop with inscriptions for CHESTERFEILD ROADE, CHATSWORTH ROADE, BAKEWELL ROADE and OFFERTON ROADE which evidently was the local dialect for Alfreton. Although Chatsworth was never a market town, it is thought to have been such a significant estate that travellers would have found it helpful to be pointed in its direction. The stoop is also decorated with pointing hands that only have four digits.


Mum went away on holiday for a few days and left me. I knew the minute the bag came down off the top of the wardrobe that she was going on her travels so I slunk about the house looking forlorn and dejected. However, don’t feel too sorry for me because I stayed at home with Dad and we snuggled up for hours together on the sofa watching lots of Six Nation rugby matches. Seeing that weird ball going backwards and forwards sent me to sleep but every so often Dad would leap up and cheer which was most annoying. Dad is very generous with treats and shares his meals with me as well as giving me my own food, so now I’m feeling a bit stodged. It’s ok though because Mum went to France and discovered their delicious bakeries, so we are both on a diet and will be walking up more hills than usual to work off some excess pounds. With love from your soon to be slim-line, Nellie xx


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