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This is not intended as a walk guide

This walk turned out to be a challenging hike of many contrasts from level ground to very steep and slippery banks, through urban hustle and bustle as well as remote and tranquil countryside.

I parked in the small County Council car park at Darley Bridge that is currently displaying a ‘for sale’ board. After a bit of pavement pottering to Old Road we got onto the walking and cycling route that runs alongside the railway line, following it all the way to Matlock. It was definitely ‘doggy walkies’ time because there were friendly fellow canines of all shapes and sizes along the way for Nellie to say hello to.

Exiting the path opposite The Arc Leisure Centre, we then walked roadside into the centre of town. On the verge near Twiggs I came across a sad and lonely standing stone erected in 1824 as a milestone for the then new turnpike road to Bakewell. Now defunct, its surfaces have eroded to make any lettering or mileage illegible. We continued on past Stanley Fearn’s cycle shop where my mum and dad bought me my first bike over sixty years ago.

Crossing the Derwent over the medieval bridge I was interested to see what work had been done on the upstream side when that massive crane was sited there for ages. Big boulders now appear to shore up the western bank whilst the eastern side has had extensive terraced building work undertaken.

Our route now was to follow a section of the Limestone Way up Masson Hill leading off Snitterton Road. The path drags steeply uphill through a succession of fields, stiles and narrow gates with part of the route winding through ancient hedgerows.

Part way up a new bench ‘in memory of Pamela’ has been laid that is perfectly positioned to rest awhile and admire the stupendous views over to Matlock Bank and way up the Derwent Valley as well as Riber Castle on its perch and High Tor. Thank you, I really appreciated sitting there.

Onwards and upwards we hiked to high ground before turning right on a restricted byway to Salters Lane and to then follow a footpath over a field to Jughole Wood.

With extreme caution and carefully placed steps Nellie and I made out way downhill on a steep, narrow and muddy path through beds of wild garlic and wood anemone. It was exciting and somehow a little scary to see the huge gaping entrance of Jughole Mine which is a series of natural caverns altered and enlarged through mining, with grassed over spoil heaps spilling down the hillside.

We continued downhill following the footpath and then an access driveway as far as Snitterton Hall that I could glimpse through leafless trees. Standing on the site of a late medieval manor house, the present structure was built 1632-33. There have been many interesting occupants of the hall, one incumbent being famed for cultivating a breed of pink daffodils. However, all I could make out were a host of yellow trumpets billowing in the breeze.

A right and we now headed to the junction where beside the road is a bullring, a reminder of the barbaric practice of bull-baiting, carried out in the belief that it made the beef tender. Thankfully this ritual was banned in 1835.

A narrow footpath beside a fingerpost sign for Wensley and Winster led us through boggy fields before emerging back onto Snitterton Road. We then crossed over to head down Aston Lane and a stroll along the gated road to Darley Bridge, following a stretch of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way. After extensive flooding and erosion this has become more of a raised causeway path rather than a roadway, no longer suitable for cars. The flat meadows either side were still very water-logged, a stark reminder that this land has always been low-lying flood plain and marsh.

We ambled past allotments at Wenslees and on to Darley Bridge, yet another centuries old structure that still provides a crossing over Derbyshire’s main arterial river. It was then just a short walk back to the car.

Sally Mosley

FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE:- The Peak District and Derbyshire is dotted and spotted with sheep and mum is always on the lookout to make sure I am on a short lead when passing them by. However, they are not always in large flocks and sometimes can be found on their own. Last week we came across a heavily pregnant sheep stuck on its back in the middle of an otherwise empty field, squirming around like a beetle. Because of its big tummy the poor thing couldn’t get up. The rest of its so called friends had moved on to other pastures leaving it to die. Mum tied me to a gatepost then went and heaved it back onto its feet. Although very wobbly, the sheep looked relieved and hopefully will go on to have healthy little lambs. So what did she do after our walk? Mum headed off to the supermarket to buy leg of lamb for Easter dinner! No further comment.

Nellie xx


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