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Walk Derbyshire – Bretton Clough

Walk Derbyshire – Bretton Clough

Starting from a popular pub, the Barrel Inn, which is the focal point of the hamlet of Bretton, a small hamlet high on Eyam Edge, the walk enjoys delightful views over the surrounding countryside.

Wooded valleys, one of which, Bretton Clough, is the focal point of this walk.  By tradition Bretton Clough is where the last Britons lived.  Unfortunately there is no evidence to support this story, but it is good to imagine these ancient Britons holding out against the invading Roman legions, invaders who came this way in search of lead, for which they planned to use local tribesmen as slave labour.  The only proof backing this legend are the remains of a Roman fort called NAVIO near Bradwell, an ancient lead mining settlement.  

Two historic small towns or villages lie close to Bretton Clough.  Eyam to its south east has gone down in history as the village which managed to stave off the worst rigours of an outbreak of the dreaded plague by isolating itself for over two years.  Bretton Clough points the way to a much larger village, Hathersage.  It became Morton in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. She also used places such as North Lees Hall as settings for much of the ever popular story-line.  Earlier still, Hathersage is said to have been the home of Little John, Robin Hood’s friend and right-hand man.  Who this man as is uncertain, but a grave close to Hathersage church door, when it was excavated, proved to contain the skeleton of a very tall man, as confirmed by his 32 inch thigh-bone.  Both these villages can be seen from views over the northern portion of the White Peak, together with the gritstone outcrop of Stanage Edge escarpment filling the eastern distance beyond the walk.

Gliders soaring gently on thermals above Bretton Clough and Hucklow Edge are from the local gliding club.  Many by skilful use of updrafts manage to circle Mam Tor at the head of the Hope Valley before returning to their hilltop landing field.

Bretton Clough itself is too steep to farm and, as a result the land is given over to natural scrubland favoured by a wide range of birdlife.  To reach this attractive area, the way from the main roads is via the almost hidden side road through Eyam and then up on to Eyam Edge by way of Mompesson’s Well, one of the places where money was left in return for essential goods by the brave young parson who kept his flock together throughout the horrors of what could have ended in total disaster.  A left turn near the well joins a narrow road just waiting to be followed all the way to the Barrel.

The walk turns back along the edge-top road, before swinging left to descend into Bretton Clough.  It follows farm tracks and moorland paths, downhill into the bottom of the Clough.  From here a wide path climbs alongside Abney Clough as far as its namesake hamlet.  A left turn here for about 220 yards joins a field path going back downhill into Bretton Clough.  By crossing the valley bottom stream, where the start of the last climb begins,  it rises by a meandering path as far as a remote cottage whose driveway joins a narrow lane.  A right turn along this lane passes the now privately run Bretton Youth Hostel on your right.  This is a pleasant spot, ideal for families and small groups enjoying a break in these delightful surroundings.  The Barrel Inn stands beside the junction of the lane and the road along Eyam Edge, the perfect place to finish this perfect walk.

USEFUL INFORMATION: A moderate walk over 5 miles (8km) of moorland paths with two fairly steep climbs.

RECOMMENDED MAP: Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure 1:  Sheet OL24; The Peak District, White Peak Area.

CAR PARKING: Barrel Inn, or nearby roadside if not planning to visit the pub.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Busses from Sheffield and Chesterfield.

REFRESHMENTS: Barrel Inn at the start and end of the walk.


Follow the edge-top road uphill and away from the Barrel Inn for a little under half a mile in order to reach a side track on your left.

Turn left on to the track and follow the walled, grassy way, keeping ahead at a track crossing.   Go past a small wood and out into open fields.

Keep well to the left of an old farmhouse.  Follow a grassy path on the right of the first of a trio of pine plantations and go through the second, and then right again at the third.

After half of a mile, bear left at a path junction and go over a stile, then turn to the right along a grass-topped, rocky terrace in order to walk down into the valley bottom at Stoke Ford, which is where Abney and Bretton Cloughs join.

Cross Bretton Clough and follow a field path beside Abney Clough, going steeply uphill until the stream makes a sharp left turn.  Take the streamside path uphill, bearing right in its final stages in order to reach Abney hamlet. 

Turn left and walk along the village street for a little over 200 yards.  Beyond the last houses, turn left over a stile signposted to Nether Bretton.  Walk steeply downhill, keeping left past Cockley Farm and out into the valley bottom, following waymarks over a series of meadows.

Cross two plank bridges and follow the path steeply uphill through unspoilt scrub.

At the top of the hill go to the left of the cottage, keeping between it and an old barn.  

Reaching the surfaced lane, turn left to walk uphill, past the hostel and turn left at the road junction, directly next to the Barrel Inn.


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