Updated 10 Dec 2003

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Six Walks around Wirksworth

Copied with permission of Denis Eardley from his fine booklet:
"Discover Derbyshire - Wirksworth and the surrounding area".
Published by Solar Press 1999.
ISBN 0 9535752 0 9

DENIS EARDLEY now runs a comprehensive website at: www.derbyshire-peakdistrict.co.uk which includes descriptions and walks for Wirksworth and many other places in Derbyshire.....

PLACES covered at present (many more to follow), Wirksworth Area underlined:
Ashford-in-the-Water, Ashover, Baslow, Belper, Buxton, Castleton, Cromford, Dale Abbey, Edensor, Hartington, Hathersage, Hayfield, Hognaston, Matlock, Melbourne, Monyash, Shardlow, Tissington, Wirksworth, Youlgreave.

1. Wirksworth and High Peak Trail.
2. Cromford Village - Canal and High Peak Trail.
3. Cromford canal - High Peak Junction and Birch Wood Section.
4. Bonsall Village Walk.
5. Carsington, Brassington and Harborough Rocks.
6. Hognaston Village.

1. Wirksworth and High Peak Trail.

Distance: 5 miles.
Time: At least 2 ½ hours.
Starting Point: Coldwell Street Car Park.
Refreshments: Rising Sun at Middleton, visitor centres and Wirksworth.
Description: Outstanding views and fascinating places to visit, this walk reveals much of the heritage of the area and present day workings. There are some steep sections on the walk.

Leave the car park by the top end going left into Chapel Lane and left again at the junction with North End and within a few yards right by the school past North End Factory Shop and over the old railway bridge. Take a short surfaced path to the left through a style, following the path diagonally across two fields. Then follow a fenced path up a track to Bolehill; keep straight on at the crossroads past the Methodist Church before turning onto a narrow path on the left and up some steps to Oakerthorpe Road.

Before leaving Bolehill it is well worth while taking a backward look at Wirksworth below. It was at Bolehill that Olive SCHREINER wrote The Story of an African Farm, comparing Wirksworth, lying in the hollow of the hills, to Ladysmith. The village takes its name from the open hearths or boles where, for four hundred years, lead was smelted. The smelting of lead was carried out on the tops of hills surrounding Wirksworth, where best advantage could be taken of wind force. Bolehill has developed over the years from a cluster of miners' cottages huddled around the Bage Mine to a very popular residential area.

Continue your walk to the right, and just past a wooden shed on the left take the stepped path up towards Barrel Edge, following the marked route into the wood. Keep to the path close to the front of the wood, to reach the Trig Point where the views are outstanding. Remaining on the left of Black Rocks take the path which brings you down to an information board by the car park - if you have time it is well worth taking one of the walks described on the board.

Here you can see the High Peak Trail stretching out in front of you to the left. Your walk along the trail takes you past Steeple Grange Light Railway, which is well worth exploration, when open, and the National Stone Centre where the remarkable Story of Stone Exhibition is open all year. There is an access footpath to The Rising Sun public house, shortly before arriving at Middleton Top Engine House where you can enjoy food and refreshment. Middleton Top Engine House can be seen a long time before it is reached - it contains a beam engine, which was once used to raise and lower wagons up the incline. The shop is well worth investigation and you can hire a bicycle here for exploration of the trail.

Continue along the trail for a short distance before taking the signed path to the left leading to a small flight of steps and then heading towards the end of the wall opposite. Follow the stiles down to and across the main road. The footpath continues diagonally across the next two fields before continuing alongside the fence to the right. Beware - this section of the walk is close to the quarry adore must be taken to stay on the footpath. It is very easy to follow the path from this point, when it turns downhill alongside the road. Eventually swinging to the left go through a short tunnel in the quarry to follow a winding fenced path to the road which loops round a hairpin bend. Take the higher road and you will soon see the houses that survived the "Big Hole" quarry excavations.

Just before Babington House, go to the right by the handrail. The view from here over Wirksworth and the surrounding countryside is particularly impressive. At the road junction go down the hill turning to the right along Bowling Green Lane. Then first left which takes you to Crown yard, where the Heritage Centre tells the story of the town and there are craft shops and a cafe. You emerge into the market place, returning to the starting point by crossing the main road at the bottom and going left and then right down Coldwell Street turning into the car park by the Vaults Inn.

2. Cromford Village - Canal and High Peak Trail.

Distance: 3 miles.
Time: Allow at least 2 hours.
Starting Point: Cromford Wharf car park.
Refreshments: The Greyhound Hotel, Cromford Mill, Scarthin Bookshop.
Description: Beautiful scenery, an abundance of wildlife and world-renowned heritage make this walk a very special one.
The walk starts at Cromford Wharf where there are a number of interesting old canal buildings. Continuing along the towpath there is an abundance of wildlife with a large number of butterflies and dragon flies in summer, longtail tits and warblers overhead and a plentiful supply of fish in the water. After a little over one mile High Peak Junction is reached, where the Cromford and High Peak Railway used to start its remarkable journey over the moors to Whaley Bridge. For part of its length it has been taken over by the High Peak Trail, which the walk now follows to the rear of the information centre.

At the foot of the High Peak Trail there is a catch pit on the left, where run away railway wagons used to come to rest. Ascend the trail for a third of a mile going to the left when you see a footpath sign for Whatstandwell and then left again through the tunnel under the trail. Continue your walk down the lane towards Cromford. Shortly after reaching a row of dwellings on your right, just before Castle View Drive, take the stiled footpath on your left across the fields keeping close to the fence and to the left of the derelict barn. Eventually a little lane is reached which you follow round to the right into tarmaced Barnwell Lane, where you take the first right turn down Bedehouse Lane. At the bottom go down the main road before turning by the Bell Inn along North Street. The three storeyed buildings are among the finest examples of Industrial Archeology to be found in England.

In front of the school the path leads off to the left and within twenty yards go through the gap in the wall to the left and continue your descent. Situated in a yard on your left is the old village lock up, recently restored by the Arkwright Society and almost directly opposite the magnificent circular sluice, known locally as the Bear Pit. On reaching the main road go straight across and continue your walk up Water Lane past the mid-nineteenth century waterwheel, which still operates. The walk now takes you to the right down Scarthin past the mill pond and back to the Market Place, where after looking round the shops you cross the road and walk down to and over the A6. Follow Mill Road down to the Cromford Mill Complex to see foe yourself why people come from far and wide to view what is a very precious part, not only of our own heritage, but is of world-wide importance. Return over the road to the Cromford Wharf car park.

3. Cromford Canal - High Peak Junction and Birch Wood Section.

Distance: 2 ¼ miles.
Time: 1 ¼ hours.
Starting Point: High Peak Junction car park off the Cromford to Holloway Road.
Refreshments: Homesford Cottage Inn, picnic site at High Peak Junction.
Description: An easy walk along historically important Cromford Canal where a Nature Reserve has been established. Returning through beautiful Birch Wood with outstanding glimpses of the Derwent Valley.
On joining the canal, walk along the east bank towards Ambergate to reach Leawood Pumphouse built in 1849 to raise water thirty feet up from the River Derwent to the canal in times of water shortage. Just beyond the pumphouse is Wigwell Aqueduct, or Derwent Aqueduct as it is frequently called, which was built to carry the canal across the river.

Shortly you cross the canal by a wooden bridge and continue your walk on the other side where a Nature Reserve has been established by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. A feature of the canal is the abundant bird and plant life, with over two hundred and fifty species of the latter having been recorded. A few yards before reaching Gregory Tunnel follow the path to the right and make your way to the busy A6 and cross the road.

Walk up the track to your right directly behind a cluster of buildings past the Homesford Cottage Inn before turning sharply to the left and then, within about ten yards, taking the path to the right up to Birch Wood. The track is easy to follow and soon you will reach the track used for Birchwood Caravan Park. Lovely glimpses can be seen through the trees, particularly in the winter, of the Derwent Valley stretching out below. Keep to the edge of the wood until you eventually come to a fork in the track - remain within the wood and go to the right which soon leads you to the High Peak Trail.

Follow the trail past the catch pit, put there when the trail was used as a railway, to prevent run away wagons causing mayhem if they broke loose. At the foot of the trail is High Peak Junction, which was the starting point of the Cromford and High Peak Railway. The railway workshops and transhipment sheds still exist and are worth investigation. Cross the canal by the swing bridge and return to the start.

This walk can be easily adapted as an extension to Walk Number 2

4. Bonsall Village Walk.

Distance: 2 miles.
Time: 1 ¼ hours.
Starting Point: The fountain. There is only roadside parking in the village.
Refreshments: Barley Mow (Open Evenings and all day Saturday and Sundays).
Description: An exhilarating walk through the ancient village of Bonsall and the surrounding countryside with many lovely views.
Start at the Fountain which is a prominent landmark in the village, standing at the foot of The Dale. Cross the road and go up the stepped path to the rear of the park playground to the church. The Church of St. James, situated on the hillside is over 700 years old. Leave the church by the lych gate to the left, soon following the footpath between the houses going left past the market cross to take the path in the top corner of the market place. The footpath goes up Stepping Lane, resurfaced by German prisoners of War in the 1940's, bearing to the right over a field and then continuing straight on along a well stiled path.

Eventually emerging onto a tarmaced road continue to the top, before turning left and almost immediately right along past Hollies Farm which includes a shop and post office then straight on. After passing Brumlea farm the lane divides, go left where a footpath leads off down the fields. Keep close to the wall down the first field across the next to go down a little valley through a third field to the road. Descend the road taking the footpath to the right of the house next to the Wesleyan Reform Chapel and head for a gap in the wall. Bear diagonally to the right over three fields towards a stone barn where the path goes left in front of the barn down to a lane. Go up the lane until it bends to the right, when the path goes in the opposite direction through a gate, before in about 100 yards taking the stile to the right. Follow a diagonal path across a further field and through a gap in the wall. The path runs to the right across four fields - Do not leave the last field - but turn to the left in the corner of the field by a series of footpath signs.

Continue diagonally across three fields to go down a lane and then within a few yards go left over another stile across a short field and over a further stile. Follow straight on over two fields and on reaching the third head for the top left hand corner behind Sunnyside Farm. Go down a track to turn left into a narrow road. Follow along the road until it dips and go right by a farm gate, which goes through a farmyard winding round to the left down Puddle Hill. Where the road meets The Dale stands the Barley Mow, an award winning Real Ale pub, where the amazing annual World Hen Racing Championships are held every August. To the right of the pub go up the short lane and along the flat stretch and through the gap in the wall to descend along a pretty path back to The Dale. Carry on down the road, with the Bonsall Brook on the right on which ARKWRIGHT depended to power his mills, and return to the start of the walk.

5. Carsington, Brassington and Harborough Rocks.

Distance: 4 ½ miles.
Time: 2 ¼ hours.
Starting Point: Carsington Church. There is only roadside parking in the village.
Refreshments: Miners' Arms, Carsington.
Description: Two contrasting villages, stupendous views and Harborough Rocks where Bronze and Iron Age man used to live combine to make up this popular walk. Care needs to be taken with the very steep descent into Carsington.
Start your walk from Carsington Church in this lovely village which lies in a wooded valley at the foot of Carsington Pasture. Follow the road in a westerly direction, but where it swings to the left carry straight on up the lane past the houses on to a track. The track soon curves to the right climbing up to a gate and stile, after which you leave the main track to the right to climb the path through a narrow limestone cutting at the top of the hill. Old lead mines are very much in evidence all along this section of the track.

Continue bearing right through the footings of an old wall by a redundant stile and then through a gap in the wall on the right in the next field descending across two stiled fields, the second lying about fifty yards to the left of a stone barn. Cross the track and follow the winding path up the hill towards the remains of Nickalum Mine before taking the waymarked sign to your left round the old workings and then bear right through a cutting when Brassington comes into sight. The path now descends steadily to a stile near a thorn tree and then follows the wall on your left until another stile is reached. Walk to the left to descend the field, crossing another stile on the right before going through two more fields eventually reaching the main road by a farm access.

Turn left and within a few yards Tudor House is seen on the left. Built in 1615, it at one time housed paupers for the Ashbourne Poor Law Union; the men being employed in breaking stone into specific sizes at the rear of the house. At this point turn right up Miners' Hill with St. James's Church, which is Norman in origin at the top. Go to the right by the industrial estate, along the intriguingly named Maddock Lake - the name probably came from a spring of water, which provided this interesting little hill village with a permanent water supply. At the road junction turn left and at the edge of the village take the "No through road" sign on the right, until the road comes to an end. Go left by the gate, round the old lead workings and then keeping close to the wall on the right proceed to Manystones Lane. Turn right along the road, before taking a footpath on the left just past some factory buildings. The High Peak Trail is soon reached, but before continuing your journey there is the chance to explore Harborough Rocks, where Bronze and Iron Age remains have been found. Continue along the trail to the east and just before a gate across the track cross the stile to the right by Viaton Works. Cross a short field, the road and a stile into Carsington Pasture. Follow the path alongside the wall on to the top of the Pasture, where there are tremendous views over Carsington Water to the distant countryside. Pass the unusual rock formation on your left, known as King's Chair. Leave the wall by the wood going to the right by the fence and descending to the boundary at the bottom of the steep slope, following it along to a small gate into a back garden and down a flight of steps. Descend the lane in front of you, returning to the road where your walk started.

6. Hognaston Village.

Distance: 2 ½ miles.
Time: Allow 1 ½ hours.
Starting Point: Carsington Visitor Centre car park.
Refreshments: Visitor centre and Red Lion at Hognaston.
Description: A very relaxing walk along well-surfaced paths and grassy lanes. Visiting the attractive village of Hognaston with its old houses and interesting church with a handsome Norman doorway. The return journey includes a walk along the dam embankment with delightful views across the water to the countryside beyond.
Leave the car park and follow the footpath towards Millfields. After passing the sailing club, cross the main road and follow the bridle path opposite round until you reach a gate on your right. Go through the gate and walk up a pleasant tree-lined path alongside a little stream, and over a metal stile, before coming to another lane, turning right and going downhill. The lane winds round past a ford at the bottom of a farm lane, several cottages and farms before climbing up by St. Bartholomew's church to the main road through Hognaston village.

You may not realise it, but this road used to be the main route between London and Manchester! It is the only road shown in the county on the map compiled by John OGILBY in 1675, who called himself "Cosmographer to the King, Charles II". The village with its old houses and interesting place names is well worth exploring.

Walk past the church down the street by the Congregational chapel which was built in 1882 and extended to house a Sunday school in 1930. Just beyond Mills Croft on the right, go down the lane on the opposite side of the road and follow it round to the left downhill before another lane on your right is reached. This is the lane you came up earlier in the walk: this time go down it and turn right at the end.

The land is open along this stretch and you can see the top of Carsington Water embankment in the distance. Follow the track along its winding journey past the Severn Trent settlement tanks before eventually climbing up to the main road at the Millfields end of the reservoir. Cross the road and go through the opening in the fence, for an invigorating walk along the dam wall to Carsington Water and the starting point of the walk.