Winster is a haphazard cluster of seventeenth and eighteenth- century houses linked by narrow hillside alleys or ginnels as they are known locally. They sit in a pattern which suited the lead miners and their families in the hey-day of this now extinguished Peak District industry.
The walk follows paths once trodden by miners who, usually in small groups, delved beneath the surrounding heights. Often run on a part-time basis, the miners would be satisfied with a daily input of enough ore to fill their wes’kit (waistcoat) pockets. Small abandoned stone barns, used as stores by these miners, still dot the surrounding fields. At the side of the nearby B5056 Cromford/Bakewell road, close to its junction with the Newhaven road, a communal lead store has been preserved as an interpretive feature. A little way down the road from it, the Miners’ Standard pub takes its name from the standard dish used to measure quantities of ore.
In contrast with this small-time mining activity, the last and most productive lead mine in Derbyshire was nearby at Mill Close. It was still in operation until 1939 when flooding led to its abandonment.
The central feature of Winster is a two-storied, late seventeenth-century Market Hall. Standing opposite the co-operatively run village store and post office, it was the first National Trust property in Derbyshire. Winster has its own team of Morris Dancers, and every Shrovetide the women and children of the village hold pancake races along the main street.
Parking is difficult in the centre of Winster, but can usually be found roadside to the west (Elton) side of the church, or at a dedicated car park above the village near the Miners’ Standard. The Matlock to Bakewell via Elton bus runs through Winster (but not on a Sunday).
The Walk :
Walk up the side street away from the Market Hall and go past the Bowling Green Inn. Turn left at Hope Cottage to follow a footpath signposted to Bonsall. Bear left with it, passing the public toilets and follow a narrow alley, head out of the village.
Using stiles to keep to the grassy path, climb diagonally right across a series of fields.
From fields disturbed by ancient lead mining activity, look to your left across the wooded valley. Stanton Moor is to the right and beyond it are the rocks of Robin Hood’s Stride, once known as Mock Beggar’s Hall from its apparent shape in poor light at dusk. Further on, the deep trough of Lathkill Dale cuts a swathe through the limestone plateau. Looking to your right again beyond Stanton Moor, the wide swathe of the Derwent Valley carves its way past Chatsworth and into the gritstone moors of the Dark Peak.
Go through a stile in the wall on your right and turn left following a wall close by Luntor Rocks. Then, following waymarks, incline right, uphill.
A fenced-off area below Luntor Rocks marks the site of an abandoned mine shaft. Most mines but not all, are blanked off with concrete beams, or by beehive cairns. Treat every mine shaft with respect for many have unstable sides.
At the top of the rise, go diagonally left across the level field, heading for a stile in the top wall.
Cross the stile and turn left to follow the moor road for about a quarter of a mile.
By the weight restriction sign, turn left down the first of two adjacent tracks. Keep to your right of the farm house, and then bear left to walk round the lip of a quarry.
Begin to go downhill across open fields, bearing right at a path junction marked by a yellow arrow. Head towards a ruined barn.
Turn left and descend towards a dry dale running roughly left and right. Cross it and climb to the right towards the outskirts of Wensley village.
Follow the narrow street leading into the village and main road. Cross and, keeping to the right of the cottage opposite, follow a signposted path indicating the way to Stanton Moor and Birchover. Aim ahead towards woodland.
Cross two fields and then follow a forest track.
Climb over a stile and turn left, uphill along a surfaced lane. Fork left at the lane end, to bear left along a woodland track.
The factory seen through trees on the right of the lane stands on the site of Mill Close Mine, once the most productive lead mine in the Peak. Starting in the 1700s, it had a chequered career until the mid-nineteenth century when more efficient pumping equipment made it viable for the next hundred years or so. The factory began by extracting residual lead from the spoil heaps, but now specialises in extracting lead and other metals from worn-out batteries etc.
The preserved surface remains of the Old Mill Close Mine are passed close by on the next section of the walk.
Take the left fork at the finger post and walk down into the valley bottom and bear right. The imposing tower of the Old Mill Close Mine winding house is to your right. A short diversion here is worthwhile, but do not follow the path in front of the winding house; return to the valley bottom path and turn right.
Follow the path upstream through woodland. Bear left with the path in order to cross the stream and go over a stile.
Using two old gate posts and stone stiles to indicate the way, go half-right then diagonally left uphill.
Cross the stile at the valley head and turn right along the road back into Winster.
5½ mile (9km), of easy/moderate walking on field paths. The path between Clough Wood and Winster has muddy sections after prolonged rain.
Recommended Map: Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale Explorer Map, Sheet OL24: White Peak area.
Parking: above the village near the Miners’ Standard, or roadside on the Elton road beyond the church.
Public Transport: Hulleys 172 Matlock, Winster and Bakewell service runs at 38minutes past the hour Monday to Saturday only.
Refreshments: The Bowling Green (side street next to Market Hall, and the Miners’ Standard both serve food.