This month’s walk has a little bit of archaeology thrown in for good measure. All it takes is a strong pair of legs, keen eyesight and maybe but not essentially, a lightweight set of binoculars.
Starting and finishing in the delightful village of Taddington, a place where winter snows seem to come long before other Peakland settlements. Walking almost due south at first, the way begins by crossing seven tiny fields; small strip fields seem to be a feature locally.
Crossing the Bakewell/Chelmorton road, a field path follows the length of one of the narrow strips to reach Flagg where they have races for riders ranging from teenagers to mature middle aged farmers every Easter Sunday, a day when nature invariably arranges a snow storm to keep everybody on their toes. The long narrow fields date back to Saxon times when their shape was dictated by how much land a man and two oxen could plough in a day.
From Flagg a sharp right-hand turn leads through a series of slightly larger fields, traditionally left unploughed. The walk then follows minor roads and footpaths all the way to re-join the Bakewell/Chelmorton road; a left turn here for about 150 yards and steadily descends beyond a moorland cross-roads, as far as a minor road going right, downhill into Chelmorton, arriving conveniently opposite the Church Inn.
This village has the best preserved collection of unspoilt narrow, strip fields. Its church is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, the saint who the Bible tells us, spent time in the wilderness, where he lived on locusts: a locust weather vane on top of the church steeple commemorates the event. After a little under half a mile of walking on field paths over an airy limestone upland filled with tiny flowers, the path crosses an unsurfaced lane. Here you can make a short diversion by turning left to the lane end, and then right over the grassy moor to reach one of the Peak’s finest pre-historic sites. This is Five Wells chambered cairn, a unique remnant from Neolithic (latest stone age) times. The site has been excavated in the distant past, when remains of skeletons were found alongside small fragments of flint tools.
The remains of long abandoned lead mines show themselves by path-side humps and hollows along the way to the descent back into Taddington where the Queen’s Arms welcomes walkers.
An easy to moderate 5¾ mile (9.25km) walk on field paths and a short section of a couple of rural roads.
Ordnance Survey1:25000 scale Peak District, White Peak Area: Explorer Map, Sheet OL24.
Trans Peak Derby/Buxton hourly service via Matlock as far as the Queen’s Arms in Taddington.
Pubs in Chelmorton and Taddington.
Roadside on the outskirts of Taddington, but please ensure you do not interfere with anyone’s rightful access.
Take one of the side paths, southwards and away from the village main street. Pass a dew pond on your left at the bottom of Slipper Low. (Water was always a problem around Taddington, causing villagers to walk considerable distances carrying pails of the precious liquid).
Cross a stile and turn left on a back road, known locally as The Jarnett.
Where The Jarnett makes a ‘Y’ junction with another minor road, Moor Lane, climb a stile and walk diagonally right across the middle of the intervening fields. Cross field boundaries by stiles or gates in order to keep to the official right of way.
Go diagonally again over three more fields, all the time walking down their centres, until you reach a path ‘cross roads’. Go forwards again down the centre of the fields until the path reaches a field access track via yet another stile.
Turn left and follow the grassy lane, down to Flagg Lane. Turn right here for about 45 yards and turn left into the first of three long, narrow fields.
Go round the back of Flagg Hall, then down its drive to reach a road at a ‘Y’ junction. Turn right and follow the road through Flagg until the road joins Pasture Lane at this junction. Turn left and follow the side road for about 150 yards until it makes a sharp left turn at the apex of a sharp bend.
Do not follow the road round the bend, but turn right on to a field path crossing six medium sized fields. Use stiles and gates in their boundaries to follow the correct route.
Turn left on to Flagg Lane and follow this road (can be busy, so keep to your right and walk in single file). Go over a cross roads and then begin to walk downhill as far as a minor road going right.
Turn right and follow the minor road down into Chelmorton village, conveniently opposite the Church Inn. (Dogs are welcome and are even accommodated with their own barrel on tap).
Turn right on entering the village and walk past the church.
Climb steadily uphill on a rough track, past the village water supply until the track is joined by a path coming round from the side of Chelmorton Low.
The rough surface around the path, is an indication of one-time lead mining activity.
A diversion going left along an unmade lane will lead, beyond its end, to a concessionary path to Five Wells Chambered Cairn. Return to the lane to continue the walk.
Follow the lane back to the point where it is crossed by the path from Chelmorton. Follow this path (to your left if you have been to Five Wells Cairn.
Follow the high level, airy path, forwards alongside a boundary wall over Sough Top, the highest point of the walk, then downhill, crossing a minor road back to Taddington, reaching the village opposite the church.