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A wild walk through Derbyshire’s Peak District


Bamford circular

The Vale of Edale sweeps down from the mighty Kinder Scout in the north and up to the ridge between Lose Hill and Mam Tor in the south. In between, the seemingly year-round verdancy of the vale is a proud sight. This walk, conveniently on a regular train line, starts out from Bamford to summit Win Hill before dipping down and back up again to Lose Hill, then crosses a ridge towards Mam Tor. Before reaching the ‘Shivering Mountain’ it descends into Hope and to the first pub, the quaint old Cheshire Cheese.

The ¬final cross-country walk brings you back to Bamford and the community-owned Anglers Rest. It’s a walk that offers 360-degree views over the best of the Peak District before seeking out some of its ¬finest pubs, and even a little brewery.

os map of Bamford Circular walk

WALK

From Bamford rail station, walk up to the bridge, onto Station Road and head north towards Bamford village. It’s a short walk along the pavement before taking the first left past a car mechanics onto Water Lane, across a bridge, then on past some playing fields to a couple of large buildings.

On the other side of the buildings, there’s a narrow and leafy footpath on the right that leads north to the hamlet of Thornhill. As the path comes out onto the road in Thornhill, turn right and then left at the fork straight ahead of you. There’s no pavement here so beware of cars, but you’re more likely to see cyclists. At Townhead Lane turn right up the road until it turns into a path and follow the signs to Win Hill.

As the path opens out over a wall, start to walk uphill around to the east of the knoll. Views back to Bamford and over Ladybower Reservoir will appear. The Derwent Dam, that separates the Ladybower and Derwent reservoirs, was used for target practice by Lancaster bombers six weeks before the famous Dambusters raid in World War II.

At the junction, turn right onto the grassy path and past a sign that points back to Thornhill. It’s likely to be only skittish sheep you encounter along this path. At the fork stay to the left and follow a fingerpost that points towards a plantation to the right of a handsome stone wall.

Once among the trees, another fingerpost points uphill towards Win Hill through a pleasant, rocky glade. The scattered path follows a route through the trees before emerging on a clear stone path rising steeply towards the summit. Here the views really open out to the south over the Peak District National Park and beyond its borders. It’s a peaceful and green view. At the top of Win Hill is Win Hill Pike, a knobbly outcrop known locally as the ‘pimple’. Once the summit trig point is reached a huge vista opens out to the more melancholy northern moors.

a view from the walk

There’s a story about how Win Hill and Lose Hill, the next destination of the day, got their names. It relates to a battle that was supposedly fought on the hills between warring princes after the withdrawal of the Roman army opened up a power vacuum. It is, sadly, a fanciful construction since it has been discovered that the hill was originally called Wythinehull, meaning Willow Hill.

From the trig point you can almost see the route of the whole walk. The spiky Lose Hill is clear, and dauntingly far away. You can also follow the ridge all the way along to Mam Tor, safe in the knowledge that we’re only doing about two-thirds of the ridge before descending back to civilisation.

From the summit, start descending to the west of the satisfying protuberance, and follow the path downhill. Here you’ll see the path continue around and then to the north, leading along the ridge. (For a longer walk, you could head down the ridge before skirting up the southern side of Kinder Scout, and then descend into Edale and to the doors of the Ram’s Head Inn.)

This walk, however, only goes a short way along the ridge, turning off left at the first stile and down, and down, along a rocky path. At the kissing gate the route is a little unclear, but just head directly down south-west to the gate in the wall, with the cottages just visible down below to the right.

Once at the wall, you’ll be able to see the cottages clearly. Walk down this steep hill to the gate by the first cottage.

Walk through the yard, where there are several holiday homes, and down the paved road. The road weaves around to the right and under the railway. Follow Bowden Lane back round to the left, past a green footpath sign and some cottages, and across the superbly named Killhill Bridge that arcs over the River Noe. At the end of the lane is Edale Road and down to the right is the Cheshire Cheese. Resist the temptation to call it a day here (there’s still the majority of the walk to go) and cross the road to the public footpath opposite. Head through a stone stile, past a house on the left and a farm on the right. Then turn at the first footpath on the right and follow the path to cross through many gates and fields. You’ll also cross a bridge over the train line with the faintly alarming sign that warns: ‘Only 20 persons allowed on this bridge at any one time’. The bridge genuinely wobbles as you cross!

At the other side follow the footpath signs through a gate and then what seems like someone’s backyard before emerging into fields again. On one of the fence posts is a small plaque commemorating Frederick H Fox ‘a Member of the Sheffield Clarion Ramblers Club 1912-1962’. He would have certainly known about the Kinder Trespass (see Walk 1) that eventually led to rights to use the footpaths across England’s wild country.

Follow a large green sign that reads ‘Public Footpath to Mam Tor via Losehill Farm’. From Losehill Farm it’s a short trot up to the summit of Lose Hill, crossing a large stile over a wire fence for the final climb.

From the top of Lose Hill there are amazing views over the Vale of Edale and towards Kinder Scout above – it looking every bit the flattened plateau it is. To the west is the Great Ridge that we’ll be following, with Mam Tor rising high two miles further. Also visible is the summit of Win Hill; this is probably the best perspective of it.

Derbyshire Peak District

Walk along the undulating ridge as far as Hollins Cross. If you’re feeling sprightly then it’s just over a kilometre from here to the summit of Mam Tor. The route over Hollins Cross is an ancient path used by people crossing from Edale to Castleton. Before a church was built in Edale in 1663, parishioners would carry their dead over this route to bury them in the churchyard in Castleton. Later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, women and children from Castleton would traverse Hollins Cross to work in a cotton mill in Edale.

From the cross, descend steeply to the south-east across open fields and down a rocky path until you hit a small lane marked Hollowford Road. Follow this towards Castleton, and take the second left down Robinlands Lane – a small fingerpost points to a public footpath down this way. You will pass a playground and playing field, heading towards the Rotary Centre Castleton. As the road bends sharply at a right angle to the left, follow the footpath across the field to emerge onto another non-paved lane. Along the way is the rear entrance to YHA Castleton Losehill Hall, a large and lovely youth hostel particularly notable for being home to Hope Valley Brewing Company.

pub in Bamford, Derbyshire Peak DistrictThere’s a gap in the stone wall to access the car park and you can walk straight through the hostel’s front door. It’s always worth a look around the bar to see what’s on tap.

Continue east along the path to Spring House Farm. Turn left through the farmyard and past the horse stables where the route continues east down a boggy path over a stile. At E SK164842 you’ll hit a lane that you’ve already walked up towards Lose Hill. Follow this back over the wobbly bridge then follow the same path to emerge onto Edale Road. Turn left and walk north along Edale Road. Be careful of the cars as it’s fairly busy and there’s no pavement. After a short distance you’ll arrive at the Cheshire Cheese, a delightful old pub across three rooms, all on different levels. The building now housing the inn was built in 1632 as two cottages – look out for one of the original doorways next to the pub entrance. The cottages sat on the route for sheep drovers and before then salt merchants. Today, it’s a popular pub with walkers and on my visit there were beers from Thornbridge, Acorn, Abbeydale and Peak Ales. Two handpumps offer an everchanging range of ales. It’s the kind of pub with a collection box for the local mountain rescue team and therefore the kind of pub I like.

Now, there is an option here to head into Hope where there are a couple of other reasonable pub options, including the Woodroffe Arms, and the Old Hall Hotel. Also here is a train station on the cross Pennine route – where you can catch a train to the next station of Bamford – just saying!

Derbyshire Peak District

The final stretch of the walk from here to Bamford takes around an hour. To continue, walk back down Edale Road and turn left to Killhill Bridge. Once over the bridge, turn immediately right onto a leafy lane that winds along the River Noe. Follow the footpath through the mill, until you reach an open field. Here look out for the tunnel under the railway line that splits off at a right angle to the river. Once out of the tunnel, cut diagonally across the field along a slightly worn path to the right of the campsite. Turn right onto the lane and then left on Aston Lane to rise up towards the hamlet of Aston. Again, it’s a quiet road but be aware of cars. As the road curves steeply to the left, there’s a fingerpost and a wide footpath that leads directly east behind the houses. Walk down here and descend towards the road again. From here it’s a lengthy walk back into Thornhill along the lane – be wary of traffic, especially around the tight corners. There are, however, plenty of passing places.

In Thornhill, follow the road that leads around to the left called Carr Lane (to the right you’ll recognise the beginning of the walk). As another private road splits off the main road, there’s a fingerpost marked Bamford Mill, the next destination. Descend steeply through the field – there were cows in it on my trip – and through another gate.

At the bottom, turn right following the footpath towards Bamford Mill. Here you’ll come across a delightful wooden bridge that crosses the River Derwent above a weir. It’s an exceedingly picturesque spot. In the middle of the bridge is an artwork on the Bamford Sculpture trail, indicative of the creative nature of this little village, seemingly home to dozens of artists.

CAMRA's Wild Walks book coverHop along the raised wooden platform to emerge at Bamford Mills, now converted into apartments, and turn left along the road, heading uphill to meet the main road. Turn left here and follow the road until you get to the Anglers Rest, a pub that has been owned by the community since 2013. When it was threatened with closure in 2012, the Bamford Community Society was founded to take the pub over. This required it to be recognised as a Community Asset, the first in Derbyshire. Then £263,000 was raised through selling community shares, enough to buy the pub. However, it was offered to a rival bid from a developer. After a long fight it opened in 2013 and a staff of 25 is now employed across the pub, village post office and a cafe. It’s a heartening story. The Anglers offered local beers from Intrepid Brewery and Abbeydale on my visit. There’s also an impressive food menu.

From here, give yourself a 20-minute hobble back down the road to the train station.

Extracted with kind permission from Daniel Neilson’s ‘Wild Pub Walks‘, published by CAMRA.

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