This is not intended as a walk guide
I parked alongside the little playground above Jackson Tor where as a child I had spent many happy hours. Back in the 1960’s we used to squeeze through metal railings and scramble down the rock face as well as fly high on the swings and zoom down the slide.
After heading up Bent Lane, Nellie and I continued ahead at a corner, following a well walked path to Hurker Wood. Vast swathes of Farley Moor beyond are access land plantations of mixed woodland, managed by Forestry England.
This was a real adventurous exploration that could have taken some serious map reading skills had I not got access to the O.S. app on my phone as well. However, even with that I struggled to find the trig point which I eventually discovered tucked away amongst the trees. Nellie and I are trig point baggers, enjoying lots of walks on high ground to find them.
We made the most of some glorious woodland paths and wide forest tracks to amble along, listening all the while to birds, especially the screech of a jay in the trees or mew of a buzzard overhead. I also looked for fungi, mosses and thick lichens that enjoy this habitat of clean air and damp peaty ground.
We eventually emerged onto Farley Lane and made our way to the driveway leading down to Tax Cottage which also serves as a right of way. Across the valley I could clearly see Sydnope Hall which stands on the site of a Tudor farmhouse. The present building was built for Sir Francis Scheverell Darwin MD, second son of Dr Erasmus Darwin, after he purchased Sydnope in the early 1820’s.
The footpath descended to the right-hand side of Tax Cottage then entered woodland in an area known as Ladygrove, where Sydnope Brook was dammed to create a series of small mill ponds including Potter Dam and Fancy Dam. Constructed around 1780, the water from these powered a flax spinning mill owned by Daniel Dakeyne.
Two pathways run parallel on the eastern side of Ladygrove. Nellie and I kept to the high one, flanked by woodland and a disused quarry. Only occasionally did I get a tantalising glimpse of still water down below.
This path brought us to the far end of Holt Road where we turned left to follow what centuries ago was the main road north out of Matlock before a turnpike road was laid in the bottom of the valley, now the A6. This old highway dropped down to Two Dales then known as Toad Hole before ascending back to high ground on its course through Northwood and Tinkersley then on to Rowsley. A nearby sunken trough filled with spring water coming down from the moors would have been a welcome drinking hole for passing horses, ponies and livestock being walked to market.
A few old stone cottages and outbuildings can be found tucked in between a cornucopia of more modern properties sited on this hillside known as Hackney, many designed to take advantage of fabulous views across the Derwent to Masson Hill.
At the junction with Ameycroft Lane I came across a hooded trough dated 1888, whilst just down the road from this a beautiful house converted from the Old Mission House had an engraved foundation stone in its wall dating from 1913.
Nellie and I turned left up Burnett Lane, a steep but relatively short slog to Farley Rise where we crossed over the road and headed past a terrace of houses then along a footpath that led us back to Bent Lane.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: I might be an only child but it’s interesting to note how many sets of ‘twin’ dogs there are in our village. They are not all siblings but of the same breed. My boyfriends on the farm near the pub are two working sheepdogs and I’m in awe of their skills when rounding up sheep, whilst another set of collies at Haddon Grove are walking buddies to their humans just like me. Buster the Jack Russell and his miniature sidekick Fergus live at the farm along the lane and always say hello when they see me walk past. Down the Dale live Teggs and Birdy the fox terriers with lookalike Scottie dogs Eddie and Maisie over the road at the B&B and on the back road are two springer spaniels.
My brother Bear lives up the main street. He looks just like me but is a bit fluffier and more butch and anyone who sees him could be forgiven for thinking it was me! So if walking through our village you think you are seeing double, don’t go booking an appointment at Specsavers, we simply do dogs in duplicate around here! With much love from your one and only Nellie. x