This is not intended as a walk guide
Clumps of daffodils a plenty bring a burst of sunshine yellow to Litton’s main street in spring, and it is where I started a morning walk with Nellie on an unseasonably cold and wet day in late March. However, with magnificent views to enjoy along the way, my spirits were far from dampened or deflated.
Litton is a very attractive village with lots of chocolate box pretty little cottages and characterful houses. It’s an architectural feast of designs and features.
After heading off along Hall Lane, we then turned left at the first corner along a track to the farthest wall stile, from where it was only a field to cross before we arrived at the top of Tansley Dale.
As we steeply descended, I took many twinkle-toed steps down the slippery wet path that was dotted with trip and slip hazard lumps of polished limestone. Our first view of Cressbrook Dale was dramatic and not dissimilar to looking across some miniature Scottish glen ahead of us. A little watercourse was running down its base that in summer will normally disappear, leaving behind a completely dry and stony river bed.
Following the path upstream, led us past the Peter Stone, also known as Gibbet Rock. This circular dome of limestone was the site of the reputedly last gibbet in Derbyshire when in 1815 the body of Anthony Lingard was placed here in an iron cage until his flesh rotted away and his bones rattled in the wind. He had been found guilty of the brutal murder of Hannah Oliver, a toll-keeper from Wardlow Mires.
We passed a little group of black and white cattle, nibbling away on the vegetation of grass and wild herbs, like a delicious and nourishing salad bowl for bovines. This grazing manages the dale so that it doesn’t become overgrown and wild flowers can flourish. Designated as a Nature Reserve, Cressbrook Dale is renowned for orchids and cowslips.
After passing two little cave entrances or old lead mining adits, the path brought us to Wardlow Mires. However, instead of emerging by the roadside we veered left to walk on a footpath that then gradually ascended to the top edge of the dale. From this elevated position there were fantastic aerial views over to Peter Stone and down into the valley below. Skies above were full of the sounds of skylarks singing.
We emerged onto Mires Lane and then walked uphill to pass Beacon House with its envious position. Just after this we turned right to follow a fingerpost sign. Our route now was across a succession of fields and stiles along Litton Edge. Unlike Stanage, Froggatt, Curbar and Baslow Edges that were formed of gritstone, Litton Edge is a limestone escarpment that rises up behind the village. From up there I was to enjoy yet more wondrous views over a panoramic White Peak wonderland.
From down in the village below, I could hear the magical sound of children having fun in the playground of Litton School which dates back to 1869. It must have been their mid-morning break and a traditional time for fresh air and exercise.
Our walk ended with a wander down Conjoint Lane and then Church Lane, bringing us back into Litton. In fields alongside I noticed several little lambs huddled up under the wall side or snuggled against their mum’s fleece. They must have been wondering why it was too cold to play.
On the village green is a redundant telephone box, now with a sign for the Joke Box. Its windows were plastered with many very humorous jokes including -I’ve just bought a book called “A guide to surgical procedures”. I’ve just opened it and the appendix is missing!!
Back in 1999 when Litton’s original village shop closed, local residents got together and renovated the old village smithy, opening it as a Post Office and Community Store selling food and drink. Nearly 25 years later and it is still going strong, being well supported by local residents and visitors alike.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: Mum was treated to a ‘friend of Chatsworth’ membership for Christmas and now we are going on regular jaunts to the ‘golden palace’ gardens to get our monies worth. We’ve been round and round the maze, through the spooky tunnel, up to the top paths and got sprayed on by the fountain. The highlight for me is at the end when we share a hot sausage roll together on the steps of the ‘big house’. However, all that bling has gone straight to mum’s head! She thought I looked scruffy and a bit of a country bumpkin so before our latest visit Mum took me to Bakewell for a bit of dolling up. Keep your eyes open for well-dressed Nellie – I’ve got a bright pink collar now with sparkly name tag. Nellie xx