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WALKS WITH NELLIE! – Harpur Hill – by Sally Mosley

This is not intended as a walk guide

Following a network of path and tracks, this walk took us on a fascinating route, passing a plethora of historic and interesting places.

I parked at Grin Low car park and picnic site that is tucked away on the outskirts of Buxton in a disused quarry like the basin of some extinct volcano. From there we followed the path to Solomon’s Temple, an iconic local landmark. The current folly is said to be the rebuild of an original structure erected in the early 19th century by Solomon Mycock of the Cheshire Cheese Inn.

Passing through fields and stiles brought us to a footpath leading south from Fern House which we followed down to the dip in Grin Low Road. Along the way there were views across to Diamond Hill which supposedly got its name from twinkling quartz crystals found in its limestone.

Now a large industrial estate and site of the HSE Science and Research Centre, this rocky eminence holds a fascinating history. From 1938 to 1969, the RAF Maintenance Unit 28 was based here. RAF Harpur Hill was established as an underground munitions store in long tunnels driven into the hilltop. These tunnels were later used as a mushroom factory and cold store for cheese and butter.

Carefully following a roadside footpath, we headed up to the junction at Harpur Hill to access a path at the side of the Parks Inn where a sign indicated the way to Staker Hill, Earl Sterndale and the High Peak Trail, following the White Peak Loop (WPL).

After a short initial ascent we turned left to follow a pathway. There are various sections of disused railway line to be seen, the original being part of the 1831 Cromford and High Peak Railway line. Ascending and descending over a thousand feet in its 33-mile length, the highest point of the track was at nearby Ladmanlow.

After almost a mile we turned right to follow a bridlepath over Staker Hill. Far reaching and spectacular views included the summit of Chrome Hill known as the Dragon’s Back which appeared to be slumbering in the distance.

On the tops of some hills I could see pill box bunkers and surviving remnants of brick military buildings from WWII.

A right on reaching a road and we were soon passing Buxton Raceway, originally known as High Edge Raceway that dates back to the early 1970s.

We continued on the quiet country lane with cattle grids for about a mile toward Leap Edge, then turned right on a footpath through woodland on a descent to Turn Cliff in an area of the HSE site. This is said to be the most comprehensive facility in the world dedicated to the investigation and research of health and safety science, employing some 380 scientists, engineers and associated professionals. For over 100 years this HSE site has worked on a wide range of new projects, designs and sciences. However, they also investigate accidents and disasters here including the King’s Cross fire in 1987, Hillsborough in 1989, Hatfield, Great Heck and Potters Bar Rail disasters, the Alton Towers Smiler incident and Didcot Power Station collapse in 2016.

We came to an old farmhouse (building number 93) on our right with boarded up windows and the date 1812 on a lintel above the door. This would be a good subject for the television programme ‘A House Through Time’. No doubt built as a remote farmhouse on unspoilt moorland above Buxton, it predates the railway, most quarrying and both World Wars.

We now walked downhill on a road which has the name sign of Moodie Way, then turned left following a roadway along a stretch of straight disused railway. After only a couple of hundred yards or so the road becomes private and the right of way enters a band of trees on the right. We then emerged to cross fields around Anthony Hill before passing to the right of a former reservoir that has now become grassed over and grazed by sheep. Beyond here a farm track led us across Stanley Moor to Ladmanlow. Crossing over the road we walked back up the drive to the car park along a part of the Dane Valley Way.

Sally Mosley

FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: I’m a right posh little pooch these days. When we went to the Chatsworth Horse Trials a bit back, mum was persuaded by a sales rep to let me sample a fortnight’s supply of fresh dog food at a reduced rate. It was so delicious that I won’t eat boring kibble now so she has had to put in a full price order which is not cheap. It comes in frozen daily pouches for easy storage. However, mum only had a small fridge freezer and has had to invest in a new chest freezer just for my food! Mum says I’m totally spoilt but worth every penny! Nellie x


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