This walk began with a dip into the Carsington Water circuit. I parked at the Sheepwash car park which is now chargeable. However, it is pay on exit rather than pay and display, with an efficient system and plenty of signage to make sure I didn’t forget.
Walking clockwise Nellie and I followed the path around the top end of this magnificent reservoir, passing reed beds and islands where a variety of waterfowl were easy to observe including brown-headed gulls, geese and swans.
A footpath through fields containing sheep and new born lambs led us uphill to meet with Stainsbro Lane, emerging close to a disused quarry where there were banks of beautiful bluebells in full bloom. A left down the road as far as the impressive driveway to Stainsborough Hall and then we did a right up Summer Lane. This glorious pathway was no doubt used long ago by miners as the area is a minefield of disused shafts including Old Gell’s Spar Mine and Yokecliffe Rake Mines.
Arriving at a large wooden bench positioned to rest and admire views down the Ecclesbourne Valley, we crossed a stile and descended fields to walk through the estate of houses on Yokecliffe Hill, emerging at Wirksworth’s West End by following Yokecliffe Lane.
Sometimes the best walks with unexpected highlights are when you don’t follow a map and just go which way looks nicest or most interesting. And so it was that Nellie and I made our way in a zig-zag and roundabout fashion following ginnels, alleyways, paths between houses and quiet roads around The Dale and Greenhill until eventually we arrived at the Stardisc summit. The website www.stardisc.org describes the site as a 21st century stone circle and celestial amphitheatre created by Aidan Shingler spanning 12 meters (40 ft). Carved into black granite is a star chart that mirrors the northern hemisphere’s night sky. The surface of the stone circle is inscribed with the constellations, their names, and a depiction of the Milky Way. Contrasting with the star chart is a perimeter of silver granite on which 12 stone seats are positioned; the seats denote the months of the year.
This was the perfect spot for Nellie and I to enjoy our egg sandwich lunch whilst looking over toward Bolehill and Black Rocks opposite. After recent warm weather, all the fields, hedgerows and trees looked lush and green. However, the next part of our walk would be a stark contrast as we followed the footpath right through the heart of the former Middle Peak Quarry. Work began here at the end of the 1700s when a fluxing stone was quarried for use in iron and steel works. Lime burning was carried out on the site in the 1800s and then stone and aggregates were extracted. In 1965, Derbyshire Stone purchased the quarry and after major development it became one of the largest and most advanced quarries in the UK. However, the whole site eventually closed in 1992.
Leaving behind the austere limestone quarry that reaches deep, dark, depths with toxic pool ponds towered over by huge man-made cliffs of exposed limestone, we returned to grassy fields leading us gently uphill to access the High Peak Trail.
For a while we could enjoy peace and tranquillity before the former railway line met up and ran parallel with Manystones Lane which appeared to be a bit of a racetrack road for vehicles zooming past alongside.
At the top of the Hopton Incline some former derelict railway houses looked like they were nearing the finish of a sympathetic restoration project. Just past these we crossed over the road to head over Carsington Pastures on a most glorious path past towering wind turbines one side and the remains of an old windmill the other. It is thought to have been constructed in the 1780s and used to grind corn using wind power.
We were reaching the end of our 8-mile walk but before we could follow the road back to our car park I had the challenge of descending into the village of Carsington on a very steep section of path that was not at all kind to my tired old knees!
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: Happy Birthday to me, so now I am three, I’m a poet don’t you know it and a clever doggy! I had a lovely birthday that began with a play and cuddle with my twin brother and then a nice walk. I’m a bit disappointed that mum didn’t make the effort to concoct a dog friendly cake for me, but she did share her dinner so I’ve forgiven her. Lots of people told mum that I’d calm down by the time I got to three years of age and that I’d stop pulling and not be so manic. Well that’s not going to happen. I promise to still be full of love and cuddles but I intend to be bonkers forever! Oodles of love.