This is a walk full of contrasts and interest. Starting near the mouth of the longest and still used railway tunnel in the Peak District, it passes some of the most natural woodland in the region and also the one-time home of two priests martyred for their beliefs. Partly wooded valley strolling then follows, and after a short climb, the walk reaches an airy, rocky escarpment where stone masons once crafted millstones, the symbol of the Peak District National Park.
Access to the walk is via the side road off the B6521, Grindleford/Sheffield road, leading to Grindleford Station where the old station buildings are now a popular greasy spoon café specialising in goodies like all day breakfasts fit for a king.
The ancient oak woodland filling Padley Gorge above the station is a protected rarity and is worth a sideways exploration should time permit. The building next to the bridge over the stream flowing from the gorge was once the local mill, but has since been sensitively converted to a private house. About a quarter of a mile further on are the remains of a once grand house. This is Padley Hall, now a chapel where commemorative services are held every July in memory of two Catholic priests, Nicholas Garlick and Robert Ludlam who were captured there in 1588, and taken to Derby. There they were hung, drawn and quartered for their beliefs which were opposed to the then current trend in Elizabethan times. The owner of the house, Thomas Fitzherbert was taken to the Tower of London where he died in 1591. On a happier note, a nearby barn has been converted into a camping barn and national park ranger briefing centre.
When the walk reaches the dramatic escarpment of Froggatt Edge look out for partly finished millstones littering the lower rocks. Surplus to requirements, they come in varying shapes and sizes depending on their intended use, ranging from bevelled grindstones for flour milling, to smaller round stones once used by Sheffield knife grinders. They were still being made until a few years after the end of World War 2, when modern grinding materials superseded a trade which had lasted for centuries.
5½miles (9km) of moderate walking; one climb of 705ft (215m). Muddy sections on either side of Froggatt village and on the descent through Hay Wood.
Recommended map: Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure 1:25,000 scale, Sheet 24, the Peak district, White Peak area.
Car parking along the access road to Grindleford Station.
Public transport; by rail from Sheffield to Grindleford on the scenic Manchester line.
Refreshments: Grindleford Station café and the Grouse Inn (slightly off route beyond Hay Wood).
- From Grindleford Station café follow the unsurfaced private road, over the bridge, past the old mill and a row of modern houses.
- Pass through the restored ruins of Padley Hall and its chapel.
A small information panel to the left of the track tells of the tragic history of this once happy home.
- Beyond the chapel, cross a deep gully, and turn left. Go over the railway bridge and walk down the causewayed path.
- At a path junction near the bottom of the causeway, turn left and aim for a low post in the swampy field beyond. Follow the direction of waymark arrows, towards the river which is followed downstream as far as the B6251 road.
- Go through narrow gates on either side of the road. Beyond the far one, ignore the obvious tractor track swinging right and walk forwards across the field as indicated by waymarks on low posts.
The house before the bridge on your right as you cross the road was once a toll house on the road to Sheffield.
- Aim towards and then enter woodland to follow a muddy path through the Horse Hay Coppice section of Froggatt Woods.
Well-worn stone flags and clapper bridges indicate that the path through the woods has been used for centuries.
- Follow a walled lane past Derwent Farm and into Froggatt village, ignoring the turning on the right to an old road bridge.
- Still ignoring turnings right and left, walk past the lower houses of Froggatt.
- Where the road swings slightly left and then right about 180 yards (165m) beyond the bridge, look out for a metal gate on your left next to the last house.
- Go through a stile and begin to climb the narrow, muddy scrub-filled field.
- Cross the road below the Chequers Inn and, slanting right begin to climb the winding woodland path.
- Reaching the rocky escarpment of Froggatt Edge, bear right along a level path, and then climb left through a natural gap in the line of rocks. Turn left along the broad, level, sandy, crag-top path.
Look out for abandoned millstones part hidden in the bracken at the foot of the rocks.
- While admiring the views along the Derwent Valley below, follow the path until it reaches the road.
Look out for the small stone circle on your right about half a mile after joining the crag-top path. It is a relic of the time when the moors to your right were occupied by pre-historic settlers, s when the climate was drier and warmer than now.
- Turn right at the road and, on the look-out for traffic, cross over immediately before the blind left-hand bend. Go through a narrow gate on your left and descend the rocky path down to the stream.
- Cross the stream and climb up to, but do not enter Hay Wood car park.
- Turn left at a finger post and begin to walk along a clear path, downhill into woodland.
- Ignore a wider path climbing right at a path junction, and continue to walk downhill.
- At a path junction marked by an R.S.P.B plaque, turn right and climb slightly along the muddy path, still through woodland.
- Reaching the end of a side road, go through a gate and follow the road, past houses until it reaches the main road.
- Cross the road and turn right to follow it as far as a metalled path on the left.
- Turn left and go downhill on this path, down to Grindleford Station café.