Looking for a walk in the Peaks
It is easy to find a walk in the British countryside these days because there are many bloggers and vloggers who are happy to share their walks with us on line. So when I was looking for a shortish walk to do with some friends in the Peak District I went to Dean Read’s site, he is well known for his videos in the Peaks. Looking through his many videos I found a walk near Chatsworth that seemed to fit the bill perfectly, it looked interesting with a bit of history and varied landscape.
I did not follow his route exactly – but even so I have to give him the credit for a very enjoyable walk.
Starting from Hell Bank Plantation
There were six of us neatly packed in the car that arrived near Hell Bank Plantation on the Beeley road. There was no car park near to where we wanted to start our walk, but there were several cars hugging the dry stone wall that edged the road when we arrived. Following their example I tucked our car behind one of the others hoping it would not get scraped by any passing vehicles driving up the narrow road. Car safely parked ( I hoped) we donned on our boots and rucksacks and set off up the track which led up onto the moors .
We were a mixed bunch in age and ability, Paul had also brought along his dog ‘Patch’. Who; despite his short legs, seemed to have boundless energy chasing a ball and rushing up and down the line of us walking virtually all the time.
We followed the dirt track until it came to a dry stone wall with a built in stile, we all climbed over this except Patch, who found a gate to run under (much easier with short legs!), and then followed the path up to Hobb Hurst’s House.
Hobb Hurst’s House
Situated on the crest of Gibbet Moor about a quarter of a mile from the road this Prehistoric burial mound is quite unique because of its square-ish shape – most burial mounds are more circular. It was one of the first monuments to be protected by the Ancient Monuments Protection Act of 1882. Square marker posts inscribed VR can still be seen surrounding it that informed the public of its status back in the day. Now it is under the care of English Heritage
The monument is named after a local hobgoblin who legend says haunted the local woods, looking at the stones of the mound it does look like a house, so its a natural assumption!
Across Gibbet Moor
There are such haunting names around this part of the Peaks, ‘Hell bank’, ‘Hobb Hurst’s House’ and ‘Gibbet Moor’. I bet years ago non of the locals used to venture out at night, who knows what they must have feared meeting up on the moor.
Gibbet Moor sounds even darker than Hobb hurst’s House – and it is. In the 17th Century a tramp was condemned to death by live gibbeting on the moor for murdering a woman who refused to give him food. That meant that basically he was hung in a cage on the moor to starve to death.
His screams across the moor were said to have disturbed the Duke of Devonshire so much that he personally was responsible for the ending of the practise. Thankfully (not for the tramp) he was the last person to suffer in such a way for his crimes in Derbyshire.
The moor retains its wildness but thankfully not its horror. After taking a look at Hobb Hurst’s House we followed the old pack horse route along a well defined track north towards the A619 and Blackleach Brook ( the names are not getting any better!) The track followed a gentle ridge line which had distant views all around it. The wide open space had a compelling sense of freedom and timelessness, perhaps this was due to the dark heather dotted with prehistoric gritstone boulders that covered the moor which was blanketed by a sultry sky.
The moor descended into a small valley with the Blackleach Brook running through it. On the opposite side of the valley the busy A619 runs parallel to the brook. Near here is the Emperor stream which feeds the water features of Chatsworth House Gardens, it was hidden somewhere in the shrubbery and we did not quite manage to find the stream but the map definitely said it was there.
We did not follow the brook for long, and we were soon climbing back out of the valley towards Dobb Edge which I was quite glad about. The A619 is a busy road and I did not really enjoy being accompanied by the sound of it’s traffic, as we followed the brook through what was really a quite attractive little valley.
Up on the edge there were again good views, this time towards Baslow and Frogget Edge. After walking for a short while along the edge we Crossed a couple of fields and came to the gated entrance to the Chatsworth woods.
Chatsworth woods are on the eastern slopes of the Chatsworth Estate gardens. The tall closely packed trees are a complete contrast to the wild open moors. We now followed a tarmac road through well established trees of a managed woodland.
It was not long before we came to the Hunting tower. This sturdy stone tower was completed in 1582 for Bess of Hardwick by the Elizabethan architect Robert Smythson. It is thought that it may have been used for banquets or a summer house, but it was certainly used by Bess and her friends to watch the hunt in the Chatsworth Estate valley. Today it is a holiday let for those who can afford it!
It is a magnificent building and the views from the windows must be great looking over the massive Chatsworth house, but it is also a very popular spot for tourists. There were quite a few people around the base of the tower when we arrived, many of them like us taking advantage of the spot to eat their lunch and admiring the views.
I think if I was staying there I would feel like Saruman trapped in Orthanc by the Ents, except these Ents were smaller, and two legged eating prepacked food and taking pictures.
Heading back to the car
After eating our lunch we continued south through the woods until we came to a waterfall, which is a feature created by the landscaper Capability Brown, who was the architect of the grounds and gardens. It was quite impressive but obviously not natural. From the waterfall there was a walk through the trees which again had the landscaping air about it, but was very pretty with a rich brown carpet of fallen leaves.
Coming out of the woods we were on Beeley moor. By now the clouds had descended hiding us in its ghostly gloom. The day had started with a mixture of blue skies and dark threatening clouds, it had not rained though and I think we were all a little surprised by the mist that surrounded us.
As we walked along the track across the moor ghostly figures slowly took shape from the mist as they drew nearer. Our path was quite busy now this was obviously a popular place to come for a walk.
It was not long before we were back at the car, and there were far more vehicles parked near to ours now. I did not think this was a particularly well known walking spot but, it seemed I was wrong.
It had been a great walk, rich in variety of landscape and full of interesting history – what could be better? We had all enjoyed it, especially Patch.