A short 4 mile (6.4km) easy walk along clear paths and a quiet upland road. One steady climb of 220ft (67m).
Muddy sections near both farms and woodland passed along the way.
Recommended Map: Outdoor Leisure Map Sheet 24 The Peak District – White Peak Area.
Transport: The X17 Chesterfield service leaves Matlock bus station (M&S) at ten minutes past every hour.
Refreshments: Nothing en-route, but several pubs and cafes in and around Matlock town centre.
Car Parking: Roadside opposite Highfields School on Lumsdale Road, or layby opposite Matlock Golf Club.
New houses are being built on either side of the Matlock/Chesterfield road, the A632 on the town side of Matlock Golf Club. With starter homes on one side of the road, and an estate of larger properties opposite, they are fulfilling at least part of Matlock’s obligations to build much needed homes within its boundaries.
Despite this development, Matlock’s eastern built-up limits soon come to an end, with the golf club on one side of the Chesterfield road, and farmland filling the other. Backing all this is the long line of mature forestry trees stretching for a good four miles across the skyline on either side of Matlock Moor. This walk touches just one corner of the moor, following a route around the golf course on one side and crossing farmland on the opposite side of the A632. The walk pivots around a huge boulder, the Cuckoo Stone, a mysterious looking rock standing in the middle of one of the fair-ways. Maybe it was brought here by ancient people as a form of pagan ritual, or possibly by way of the last ice sheet to cover Derbyshire. All this is unknown, but it certainly adds an aura of mystery to the walk. While there is a right of way passing close to the stone, this footpath’s potentially dangerous way is avoided for safety reasons. The alternative in any case is arguably more attractive and only extends the walk by about a quarter of a mile.
The walk starts and finishes on the road beside Highfields School. Crossing the main Matlock/Chesterfield road, it then follows a side road lined with properties before linking with an unsurfaced track. This is followed, past Sandy Lane Farm and an abandoned quarry hiding in mature trees,. Soon the walk makes a change in direction by leaving the track at a narrow wooden gate. Here a footpath leads down to the upper reaches of Bentley Brook, a watercourse that once powered Matlock’s first industrial estate. Crossing the stream, the path climbs up to a second path and a right turn follows it all the way to the main road. This is crossed in order to reach the access to Wayside Farm and then field paths are used to reach a second farm whose name indicates its links with packhorse trains in time gone by.
A quiet back lane runs between grazing on one side and mixed rhododendron and scrub woodland. At a sharp left-hand turn, the way is forward, past the remains of three of the many gritstone quarries once active around this Matlock hillside. A sharp descent leads down to the top of Lumsdale and the silted remains of the upper reservoir where the penned-up waters of Bentley Brook waited to power small mills in the lower valley.
1. From the car park opposite Highfields School, walk up to the main road and turn left. (Or walk to this point if parking in the layby opposite Matlock Golf Club).
2. Cross over and follow the pavement for about 200 yards in order to reach Sandy Lane which will be on your right, pointing away from the main road.
3. Turn right along Sandy Lane and follow it until its surfaced part turns left.
4. Continue forwards, climbing steadily uphill on a rough surfaced lane, going to the right with it on reaching Sandy Lane Farm.
5. Follow this now the highest part of the walk, for about half a mile between grazed fields on your right and rough woodland and long abandoned quarries to your left.
6. When Cuckoostone House comes into view, go half right, leaving the access lane and go through a narrow wooden gate.
7. A walled path descends towards the golf course where the Cuckoostone stands proud. A right of way crosses the links at this point, but for safety’s sake it is not recommended without a hard hat!
8. Follow the gently descending path, through a muddy section as far as Bentley Brook.
9. Cross the stream by a footbridge and then at a stile to bear left to start the short climb up the opposite hillside.
10. Go through a stile at the corner of a stone wall in order to climb steeply up to unmade Cuckoostone Lane, and turn right.
11. Follow the rough lane for a little under a mile, high above the golf course on your right and the mature trees of Bottom Wood forestry plantation to your left.
12. Go through the gate next to a house and continue forwards, now along a surfaced way.
As you walk along Cuckoostone Lane, pause now and then to admire the view down the Derwent Valley. John Smedley’s Riber Castle dominates the near skyline with Crich Stand over to its left.
13. On reaching the main road, turn left and follow the pavement for about 150 yards as far as a bus stop sign.
14. Cross over and go down the access lane to Wayside Farm.
15. Skirting the farmyard, go through two adjacent field gates in order to follow the line of a dry-stone wall on your left.
16. Go through a stile at the end of the field and cross the next field.
17. Aim towards a stone house, passing it on your left and then go through a squeezer stile.
Follow a wall cut by two more stiles, with a ditch separating your path from a caravan site.
18. Beyond the second stile, bear slightly right towards a stile a finger post pointing back along the drive towards Packhorse Farm.
As the name suggests, Packhorse Farm is on the line of an ancient way carrying salt into South Yorkshire, or lead ore to upland smelters. The farm would have doubled as a resting place for pack animals after their arduous climb out of the Derwent Valley.
19. Follow the drive away from the farm as far as the crossing of minor upland lanes.
20. Turn sharp right and follow the arrow-straight lane for about half a mile, past two houses on your left and rhododendrons mixed with scrub woodland to the left and right.
21. Where the lane makes a sharp ninety degree left hand turn, go forwards through a squeezer stile.
22. Follow a heather-clad path around the remains of three long-abandoned quarries until the path begins to descend.
23. Follow this frequently muddy path, steeply downhill, across the remains of a dam and the silted relic of the upper reservoir in the Lumsdale series of the ponds that once powered local industry.
Highfields School is opposite, with your parked car conveniently to hand.