This is not intended as a walk guide.
What a super duper walk this turned out to be as me and my little pal Nellie wandered over some White Peak and dallied through some Dark.
We started in Calver where there is roadside parking near the tennis courts on Donkey Lane or in the vicinity of Curbar School.
Having made our way to Calver Bridge where there are some fabulous old black and white road signs, we headed off on the road to Sheffield along Dukes Drive, passing between large gritstone gate posts. Evidently this was originally a private road owned by one of the Dukes of Devonshire and not accessible to the general public. However, one particularly bad winter of deep snow, when a local farmer died, there was no choice but to use this road to take his coffin to the church. The law evidently states that once a dead body has traversed a private road, it can no longer remain private and must be made open to public use.
Not far along the road we turned onto a riverside footpath beside the Derwent where I could see Calver Mill appearing somewhat ethereal through the trees. The river level was very low, exposing huge boulders of gritstone that trapped dark pools of water. Goodness knows what has happened to any fish! In Curbar churchyard is a stone which indicates the grave of George Butcher, beloved of fishermen. He was often referred to as the Izaak Walton of the Peak.
Nellie and I crossed the river on reaching the A625 road and then headed up a footpath to walk over Hare Knoll. At the top of the steep bank, a sign warned of cows and calves that can be aggressive. I carefully checked out their position before continuing to follow the footpath through fields and stiles followed by a wooded slope. Eventually we emerged by the side of the main road at Calver Sough which takes its name from a lead mining drainage channel constructed in 1758.
A little wander through the village then followed as we made our way up past the Derwentwater Arms which sits like a castle upon a little rise for all to see. Turning right up Shippon Lane and then Cross Lane led us to the B6001 which we crossed before heading up one of my favourite footpaths that wends its way up to Calver Peak. Strewn with fallen stones from walls alongside, the route is also lined with wizened old hawthorn dripping with berries like bright red beads.
As we went higher the better the views became, reaching far up the Derwent Valley and over to Eyam. Near the top of the path was a succession of dew ponds, most sadly dry and devoid of water or wildlife, but one was full and covered in duckweed.
Our route continued through a series of fields and gates that brought us up to a track on Longstone Edge at Deep Rake. This area is said to have been mined for minerals since medieval times. In the last century some of the vast chasms have been backfilled and landscaped. Here we turned left to follow a loose stone track that took us down to the top of what I think of as Hassop Avenue.
At this point the geology of the landscape changed dramatically. After having walked over limestone we nipped across the road and along a natural bridge of shale to a ridge of gritstone and the most fabulous footpath along the top of Bramley Wood. At times I got tantalising glimpses of Chatsworth laid out beside the Derwent in all its glory. Just before it was a sea of marquees shining in the sun, erected for Chatsworth Country Fair.
Nellie and I emerged from the woods down a very steep path, then crossed a couple of fields on a footpath to Calver’s High Street.
It was lovely and quiet as we walked downhill and along Main Street as most traffic keeps to the main roads. Beautiful houses and characterful cottages lined our route as we made our way back along the pavement to Calver Bridge where the heavenly scent of fresh baking wafted from the kitchen of The Eating House.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: An Australian lady, who was on holiday, stopped me and mum in the street the other day. She recognised me as being a kelpie and was excited to tell us about a programme on telly back home down under called Muster Dogs. It’s about a handful of cattle farmers who are each given a kelpie puppy to train up, and the series follows their progress. Guess what we watched when we got home! Mum went all gooey because the puppies looked just like me when I was tiny, but I felt like hiding under the table when it showed them rounding up the cattle. I hate cows or sheep and the only rounding up I’m going to be doing is mum and dad when they don’t walk fast enough!
Hooroo me old cobber xxx