top of page


Glorious May has arrived, a month of buds, blossom and blue skies. Gone are my scarf, gloves and bobble hat, to be replaced with sun cream and a straw boater!

It was early in the morning when I parked up at Mapleton Lane car park on the outskirts of Ashbourne, where Peak Park bikes were yet to be displayed and the kiosk café was still to open. I wanted a walk before it got too hot for Nellie so we headed off along the Tissington Trail joining early morning joggers and before a constant throng of cycle hire pedallers would slow us down. This 13-mile trail was originally laid as the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) between Buxton and Ashbourne. It opened in 1899 but closed around seventy years later and was then purchased by the Peak District National Park Authority in 1971.

Just after a steep dip where the trail crosses over the Bentley Brook we took a footpath on the left that led us uphill and through the manicured fields of Callow Top Holiday Park.

Glorious rolling hills surround Ashbourne, a rural idyll of lush green fields. These are enclosed by ancient hedgerows rather than drystone walls more commonly found to the north, and access through them is generally by means of wooden stiles or narrow field gates. There are panoramic and far reaching views over this undulating landscape that is handsomely dotted with spectacular residences, old halls, country mansions and some very select houses.

We descended to Mapleton where the architecture is very different to that in North Derbyshire with lots of red brick properties as well as part timbered cottages, either lime washed or rendered.

Mapleton Church is unusual and quaint. St Mary’s was built in the 18th century of limestone with a squat west tower, topped with a large dome and lantern. Evidently its local nickname is ‘Little Saint Paul’s’.

We then turned left to pass a beautiful Georgian property known as The Okeover Clergy House, built in the mid 1700’s and occupied for a time by widows of clergymen. After this a narrow hump-backed bridge took us over the River Dove from Derbyshire into Staffordshire. Up until a few years ago a local custom took place on New Year’s Day of jumping off the bridge in an attempt to win the Brass Monkey Award.

We soon arrived at Okeover Mill where opposite are impressive gate posts at the start of the private drive to Okeover Hall which dates from the 18th century. Our route however was to pass through the gate beside a cattle grid and walk across Okeover Park along Birdsgrove Lane. Dotted with sheep and frisky new born lambs, this low lying land is marshy in parts, attracting a variety of wonderful plants and birds. Gnarled and wizened old trees provide valuable shelter but I could see that large areas of new woodland have recently been planted.

The temperature was rising dramatically, well into the high teens, which is just too hot for Nellie. I had planned to head to Upper Mayfield but changed my mind and instead we continued ahead to meet up with the A52 where I discovered a gorgeous little toll cottage.

We then descended to cross over Hanging Bridge. On 7th December 1745 the retreating army of Bonnie Prince Charlie rode through here on their way back north. The rebels shot an innkeeper and a local man named Humphrey Brown who refused to hand over his horse. Many of the villagers locked themselves in Mayfield Church for safety. It is said that some of the soldiers were caught, tried for their actions and then hanged from gibbets erected by this bridge. Along with Gallowstree Lane, these names are grisly reminders of their fate. In 1937 the bridge was widened and partly rebuilt. However, it is possible to see arches of the 500 year old bridge that were left beneath! A large cream painted building at the junction, now apartments, was at one time the impressive Queen’s Arms Hotel.

We turned left through the car park of the Royal Oak to follow a most divine field and stile route, initially through water meadows beside Bentley Brook, where at one point Nellie had a little paddle to cool offer her paws.

The footpath ascended to higher ground and then followed the tops of fields back to Mapleton Lane.

Sally Mosley

FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: My Mum is at an age when she gets up in the middle of the night and heads off along the landing to the little room at the top of the stairs for a few minutes. It’s rather annoying because it disturbs me from my slumbers and I have to settle down again when she returns. However, the other night was really weird because she picked up my lead and led me outside into the pitch dark for a walk around the village. Then she stood for ages staring up into the sky. I thought she might be sleepwalking but she said she was looking for the northern lights. Goodness knows what they are supposed to be but evidently they had been and gone so we just went back home. I hope Mum isn’t going to make a habit of these night time wanders because I need my bed! Lots of snores. Nellie x


bottom of page