I had visions of Michael Fish, the man whose forecast about there being no danger of hurricanes, went as his Scots forebears would have put it; ‘gone aft a’gley’. In my case it was a completely wrong interpretation of the forecast. According to a weather map in the Guardian a day or so before the planned walk, the weekend weather should have been dull at first, then sunny. Perfect I thought but after the first hour’s walking, instead of sunshine, we had snow, not much, but enough to make us wonder if we had done the right thing, but by then we were well into the walk, and had to plod on regardless.
This walk rather than be between two grand houses, aims for just one, Tissington Hall as its high point. Starting from the little known village of Parwich, the way is across the valley of Bletch Brook, then by way of a short length of the Tissington Trail to the estate village of Tissington. The return follows a more northerly route, across fields and then over Bletch Brook once more. It then travels back to Parwich where Robinsons’ a renowned Stockport brewery supplies the Sycamore – their ‘Old Tom’ was a warming respite at the end of a bitterly cold and damp walk.
The two villages visited on this walk are built on ancient foundations. Parwich can almost be classed as a hidden outpost. Its secluded stone-built cottages sit around a pleasant village green filling a sunny hollow and can claim to be one of the least known Peakland villages. The church is built on Saxon and Norman foundations, but like many of its kind was ‘improved’ during the Victorian zeal for modernisation. Its hall though dating from 1747 is not built from the plentiful local stone, but from bricks that were made on site in temporary kilns. Standing on a south-facing terrace overlooking the village, the house and its gardens are only opened to the public on advertised days.
To the south on the opposite side of Bletch Brook valley, Tissington is an estate village clustered around its Jacobean hall. Both have been owned by the Fitzherbert family since Elizabethan times. Although not on the route of this walk, the village is entered by a side road off the Buxton/Ashbourne highway, along an imposing avenue of lime trees. With its attractive duck pond at its centre, Tissington is popular with visitors throughout the year. Some may come just to sight-see, or picnic beside the pond; others seeking more energetic pursuits make for the old station car park on the Tissington Trail in order to cycle or walk along the all-weather track. Whatever it is that brings visitors to Tissington, the majority will be arriving in May around Ascension Day when Tissington is the first Peakland village to dress its wells.
Tissington Hall is open to the public at advertised times and fulfils everyone’s idea of how an ancient house can still be a pleasant family home. Cream teas are usually on offer and the rose garden is a must throughout the summer months.
The Walk :
From the village green in Parwich, follow a side lane southwards towards rising ground.
Look out for a shallow cave on your right and go through an awkward squeezer stile next to a farm house.
Follow the line of a hedge, down to the slopes leading into Bletch Brook valley.
Walk down four fields into the valley bottom where it can be muddy.
Cross the stream by a footbridge.
Climb uphill, following the route indicated by a Limestone Way signpost, crossing stiles in the walls of three fields until you reach a farm lane.
Cross the railway bridge and, on its far side, turn sharp left and go down to the track bed of Tissington Trail. Turn right and follow the all-weather trail.
Tissington Trail follows the Ashbourne/Parsley Hay stretch of the old railway from Uttoxeter to Buxton via Ashbourne. Never economical, it was closed following the Beeching report.
Walk along the trail for about ¾ mile (1.2km), as far as Tissington Station car park and picnic site.
From the car park, go left into the village, then right opposite the duck pond.
Go past the café and then Tissington Hall on your left.
The attractive Hall Well on your right opposite the hall entrance, is just one of the Tissington wells dressed each year.
Turn right at a road junction and a group of cottages beyond the hall at the far end of the village.
Turn left by the last cottage and follow a signposted, waymarked field path across five fields, crossing walls by stiles, or go through field gates.
Low ridges in the fields crossed by this section of the walk are the remains of medieval field systems when ploughs were hauled by teams of oxen.
Keeping to the right of Crakelow Farm, cross a railway bridge over the Tissington Trail.
Keeping slightly to the right, walk downhill into the valley by a pathless route crossing four fields.
Keep to the right of an old field barn.
Cross Bletch Brook (muddy on either side) and climb the hillside by following a boundary hedge. Cross two more field boundaries along the way.
Drop into and follow a sunken track.
Go through a squeezer stile, moving away from the sunken track and over a field.
Aim to the right of a ruined barn, then climb over another stile in a boundary hedge.
Walk downhill towards the bottom corner of a field. Go through two gates and then join a minor road.
Turn right and follow the road back into Parwich village.
3¾ miles (6km) of moderate field path walking. Gentle climbs on either side of the Bletch Brook valley. Some muddy sections in the valley bottom.
Recommended map: Ordnance Survey: 1:25,000 scale Outdoor Leisure Sheet 24, the White Peak.
Refreshments: Tissington café. Sycamore Inn, Parwich.
Public transport. Although the Derbyshire Connect service could be used; telephone bookings, (01332) 342951, there is no regular bus service to Parwich. However, the High Peak Buxton service from Ashbourne could be used to connect the walk half way round at Tissington.
Parking. Roadside in Parwich village – please make sure you do not block private access.