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Walks With Nellie ~ by Sally Mosley


This is not intended as a walk guide

Having parked up in Bakewell Station car park, Nellie and I headed past the former station building designed in Paxton style by Edward Walters of Manchester. Sat preening themselves on top of the chimneys was a clattering or train of jackdaws (that’s the actual collective name for a group of these birds). Every year jackdaws make these tall stacks their home.

Heading south we followed the Monsal Trail to its end, occasionally getting glimpses of the town and its distinctive buildings including the wonderful All Saints Church, sited on an elevate position where a house of worship has been located for more than a thousand years. Tucked away in trees on the outskirts of the town is the Tudor gothic pile of Burton Closes, built in the 1840’s and said to have an interior designed by AWN Pugin.

Exiting the trail we crossed over Coombs Road to follow a bridleway. After about 400 yards the track becomes private with the right of way being through a bridle gate. We now crossed overgrown pasture with the river away to our right.

The valley floor hereabouts has a fascinating historical feature barely visible but of real importance. Local historians and archaeologists have discovered the remains of a large walled enclosure and ditch here, said to date back to Saxon times when Edward the Elder established a stronghold in the 10th century, mentioned in the Saxon Chronicles.

A small fenced off more recent enclosure contains an ancient ash tree, even more decrepit than when I last walked this way, and yet with one huge bough still in leaf.

A left on meeting a tarmac road and we were walking uphill toward Haddon Park Farm. A gap in trees on the left allowed me to see the dank and flooded entrance to Haddon Tunnel. Five men died during its construction in the mid 1800’s. Can you believe that the fast, blue-coloured express train running between London St Pancras and Manchester Piccadilly once whizzed under this impressive dressed stone archway!

Continuing up the roadway we came to a bridlepath on the right that took us across fields then past Bowling Green Farm. From this elevated track we had sweeping views across the valley to Peak Tor and Stanton Moor.

A left at the junction and we crossed over a natural geological bridge with land sloping away on either side. Looking north I could see Bakewell in the distance with the roof of the livestock market appearing like a giant white upturned egg box.

A left again and we were on route to the market town that was granted its market charter in 1330. We were following the old coach road, being the original main road into Bakewell from the south before boggy land in the bottom of the valley was drained and a turnpike road laid, now the main A6.

This quiet stony track ambled down between hills through pasture grazed by sheep, passing the yard of a derelict farmhouse. On reaching a high arched bridge we continued in a straight line for some distance with the Showground on our left before taking a shortcut footpath into Bakewell. A couple of coaches had pulled up in front of the Farmers Feast, with a stream of passengers heading over the padlock bridge, no doubt on a mission to buy a pudding.

After a quick scoot around town we headed over the famous 5-arched, medieval bridge, one of the oldest in the county. Returning to the car meant an uphill hike of Castle Hill where a Norman castle was constructed to strategically control a crossing of the river below. It was probably only of wooden construction so all evidence of the actual building has long since gone.

Now the former motte is where some of the poshest houses in the town are located.


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