This is not intended as a walk guide.
There were several days of murk and mist at the end of November, adding an eerie atmosphere to our walks. For this amble we headed off to Monyash where we parked roadside in front of the church which is dedicated to St Leonard. It dates back to Norman times but was extensively restored in the 1880s.
A path through the graveyard led us past the quaintly named Icky Picky Lane before emerging onto Rakes Road where we turned left and then left again to head up Derby Lane which was at one time part of the King’s Highway between Manchester and Derby. After Summerhill Farm it has now been downgraded to a restricted byway, prohibiting use by mechanically propelled vehicles.
There were several large puddles and mudded ruts that Nellie and I splodged through as we made our way along this ancient route. Just past a bank of trees where the track becomes slightly wider, there is an old gatepost on the left that I was eager to see again. This is actually a recycled guide stoop dating back to the late 17th/early 18th century. Whilst most Derbyshire guide stoops are carved from gritstone, this is unusual as it is a large rectangular limestone post.
Heavily encrusted with moss and lichen, it was only just possible to read the place names etched into each side. CHEADLE in Staffordshire evidently followed a former saltway to Nantwich. The route to BAKEWELL would have been through Fern Dale and Over Haddon. DERBY was reached via Middleton-by-Youlgreave, Wirksworth and beyond, whilst the way to BUXTON would have been through Monyash, Flagg and Chelmorton.
It’s a good few years since I last walked up Derby Lane and on arriving at a gate I was thrilled to see that a concessionary path has now been permitted for walkers, pedal cyclists and horse riders to continue through fields to the Long Rake Road, guided by signs. It is not far from there to visit Arbor Low which is visible as a lumpy, bumpy silhouette on the horizon. This Neolithic henge is said to be the most important prehistoric site in the East Midlands. A circle of more than forty limestone slabs all lie within an earthen bank and ditch which has both entrance and exit areas.
Turning left at a fingerpost sign, Nellie and I walked down a field to pass Cales Farm then headed on a stone track around the top end of Cales Dale and on to One Ash Grange Farm where a small pride of colourful peacocks, also known collectively as an ostentation, were sat on gateposts to greet us.
One Ash (Aneise in the Domesday survey) was held under the great feudal house of the Pevenells by the Avenells, Lords of Haddon. William Avenell gave these lands to Roche Abbey in Yorkshire who then ousted the local peasants and turned the Grange into a penitentiary for disobedient monks who farmed the land for sheep rearing. The present buildings which were partly rebuilt in 1747 then became home to the Bowman family who were prominent Quakers. It is said that at that time Monyash was a Quaker stronghold and their Friends Meeting House of 1711 and graveyard can still be found in the village.
Turning left in the farmyard, Nellie and I followed a track to a gate and then turned left to walk on a footpath that would take us back to Monyash. Initially it led us through fields to the top of Fern Dale and then on a narrow walled former miners’ path known as Milkings Lane. In fields alongside I could clearly see the dips and hollows of old lead mine workings.
In the centre of Monyash is the village green surmounted by an ancient market cross. Fairs have been held here since 1340. Nearby are the popular Smithy Café and Bulls Head pub where the Great Barmote Court of the High Peak was held in the 18th and 19th centuries.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: I’ve been a poorly girl and had to visit my lovely vet friend at Bakewell who made me better with injections and tablets. I’d got a really bad cough that made me honk like a goose and constantly retch. The vet said it could be ‘kennel cough’ but I don’t have a kennel. Mum said it sounded as though I’d got a frog in my throat but I don’t remember swallowing one. What I do know is that I had to be kept away from my friends until I was properly better. You’ll be pleased to know that I’m back to bonkers fitness again and the only barking I’m doing is a healthy woof from time to time. Especially when the postman comes to the door! With love from your bright-eyed and bushy tailed little Nellie xx