4¼miles (6.8km) of moderate walking on field paths and cart tracks; rocky in Deepdale
RECOMMENDED MAP: Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale Outdoor Leisure map Sheet 2; The White Peak
BUS SERVICES: Transpeak TP service from Derby stops at the Monyash road-end. Hulleys 177 Bakewell to Buxton via Monyash service stops at Chelmorton Post Office. High Peak 193 Tideswell to Buxton service also stops at Chelmorton Post Office. For up to date bus times, check with Traveline on 0871 200 22 33. Open daily 0700 – 2200
REFRESHMENTS: Church Inn opposite the parish church at the top end of Chelmorton village.
CAR PARKING: Roadside or at the pub but only if you intend visiting after the walk.
People have been living around Deepdale for thousands of years. Their early burial mounds are on the surrounding heights and, nearby, is the mysterious stone tomb of Five Wells. Badly damaged by Victorian archaeologists, there were once two chambers within this elongated limestone cairn containing pottery and flint tools.
Chelmorton is a linear village with its houses filling the gaps between farms. They all use water which flows from a well above the road end – it goes by the delightful name of Illy Willy Water. The 700 year-old parish church is dedicated to St John the Baptist and the traditional locust weather vane commemorates the time he spent in the wilderness.
The village sits at the lower half of a west-facing slope, covered by a unique pattern of narrow enclosed fields – the preserved relics of medieval husbandry. Oxen were used to drag simple ploughs and these lumbering beasts were difficult to turn. As a result, fields tended to be long and narrow, with each farmer working those around his farm and sharing common grazing on larger fields beyond the village.
Deepdale to the north of Chelmorton is a complete contrast to the ancient fields above the ravine. With the exception of the stark ugliness of Topley Pike Quarry, the dale is completely unspoiled and nature is in command. Away from the quarry, the path is across rough stony ground and care must be taken, otherwise a twisted ankle could mar a fascinating walk.
1. He walk starts at the cross roads below the Church Inn. Walk down the left-hand lane below and almost opposite the church by following a footpath sign.
Chelmorton’s complex field system is laid out across a gentle slope behind the village. No longer suitable for modern farming methods, the walls and their enclosed field pattern are preserved with co-operation from the farmers and grants from the Peak District National Park Authority.
2. Cross the main road and, of the two lanes opposite, take the right-hand one. Follow this downhill and out to the lower fields.
3. Go through a narrow stile into open meadowland. Keep to the right of Burrs Farm, following a grassy path all the way.
Enjoy the view to your front. It covers the northern dales of the Peak District, dales which drain into the Derbyshire River Wye – they start high on the gritstone moors, carving deep troughs as they flow south. In the middle distance you can see some of the major limestone quarries of the Peak. Humps in the surrounding grazing denote the boundaries of Celtic fields, not marked by stone walls like those closer to Chelmorton, but just as old.
4. Take care when descending the rocky tree shrouded path into Deepdale as it can be slippery in wet weather.
CHURN HOLES: To the right where the path zig-zags steeply through a gap in the limestone crag, there is a series of shallow holes created by water action at the end of the last Ice Age. Topley Pike quarry suddenly hits the senses. It is a hard fact of life that limestone, needed for safe roads, is mostly found in beautiful areas such as the Peak District.
5. Joining a second path coming up through the bushes, turn sharp left and go through a small gate in the dale bottom and, after a few yards climb a flight of steps on the left up to the dale edge.
6. Turn right as indicated by the temporary waymarking. Follow this part of the route along the dale-top until the path descends back to its proper route. This part of the route has, as the notice advises, been diverted temporarily while the quarry debris is removed and the dale bottom restored.
7. Follow the path, left along the valley bottom.
DEEP DALE. Beyond the slurry lagoon, the tranquillity of Deep Dale soon takes over. Specialised plants and shrubby trees live on the sparse rock-strewn soil. The dale bottom is damp, but above it, dry scree slopes lead to limestone crags. Caves in the outcrops on both sides of the dale below Raven’s Tor, were once the dwellings of stone-age people.
8. Keep left where the dale forks, using a wide grassy path known as the Priest’s Way, along what is now Horseshoe Dale.
The name Priest’s Way probably dates from the time when much of the land in the Peak District was owned by various monasteries. The track would be used to link the grange, a monastic farm near Brierlow, with grazing on land above King’s Sterndale. The roughly worked opening at the bottom of Bullhay Dale on your left, is an adit, or mine entrance. This one-time lead mine was worked for its content of fluorspar in recent years. A useless hindrance to lead miners, fluorspar is used in toothpaste, or as a flux in steel making and as a source of the gas fluorine. What was once a waste product is now a valuable commodity. Do not enter the mine, as it is in a dangerous condition.
9. Walk uphill and then go through the abandoned stock-yard to reach a wicket gate offering access on to the main road. Turn left and follow the road, continuing with it past the turning for Chelmorton for a total of about 400 yards.
10. Turn right, away from the road, opposite a black painted corrugated iron shed and walk along a narrow path working its way round the ancient field system. Go diagonally to the right at the lane end.
11. Go to the right on to another access track and follow it towards the village.
12. Reaching the village, turn left and walk up to the pub!!