Peak District


Mum and I stayed for a few days in late September with my brother and sister-in-law who live in Derbyshire. The two of us went on a couple of short walks in the Peak District area.


The first circular walk was from Ashbourne, a town sufficiently old-fashioned that the Black's Head bar has a large signboard right across the street with a painted golliwog head in the middle.

Windows of the large, neat Methodist church.
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Large wall, light rain.
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We did look at the parish church from the outside (it's a fairly impressive one), but inside somebody was giving a lecture to what looked like a massive tour group, so we didn't gatecrash it.

We left the town by a footpath to the northwest, getting slightly confused about the route where it had been diverted around a hotel.

Damp teddy bear by footpath.
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Lone tree.
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Following the path through fields, we climbed a small hill and then descended it into the village of Mapleton, which has a distinctive small church with a strange dome (the church was locked when we visited, so we didn't see inside).

You can see through the archway to the hill beyond.
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Church. The dome used to have an odd urn thing on top, but high winds knocked it down in 1961.
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We followed a small river for a mile or so, leaving it on a path uphill to the village of Thorpe.

Colourful gate into Thorpe churchyard.
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National Trust land north of the village contains a large pointy hill called Thorpe Cloud, which we intended to climb.

Paint on floor of entrance to public toilets in the carpark.
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Thorpe Cloud.
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First we walked around the hill, reaching what appears to be a well-known set of stepping stones across the River Dove. (The original stepping stones have been topped with paving slabs, which some people might consider cheating.)

View from stepping stones.
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We had heard there was an easy path up the hill, but I'm not sure the route we used was it. Possibly the path had just worn away a bit. Anyway, it got a bit scrambly in places.

View from halfway up, of the hill to the north.
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Looking down the river.
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And the other way (that's somebody walking their dog on the riverside path).
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Just as we got to the top of the hill, the sun finally came out. Somewhat tentatively - but still, that was impressive timing.

View southwest.
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East along the ridge at the top of the hill.
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Northwest across the river.
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Mum on hilltop with Thermos cup.
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Climbing down the hill was, as usual, significantly harder. We made it without slipping.

I'm sure it was steeper than this picture looks, though.
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Footpaths and some road walking took us to Tissington, which as well as a stupid name looks to be a really weird village. Unfortunately we didn't have time to stop and look at it.

Farm building by the road to Tissington.
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From Tissington we had an easy route back: a cycle track along the route of a disused railway line. You can find these trails all over the country; they're convenient for walking, but it would probably have been better if they'd been kept for the original purpose. It used to link Ashbourne to Buxton.

Bridge across the line.
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We walked the trail pretty fast (keeping the time of the last bus in mind). It was okay, but not very varied, so got a little monotonous.

I did like the lying signs: 'Cyclists ride carefully.' (Complete with full stop.) That's a pretty bold statement.

The highlight was at the end of the route into Ashbourne, where it finished with a short tunnel. It wasn't the most impressive tunnel I've been in but I like tunnels regardless.

(Tunnel photos are B&W because it was sodium-lit and I didn't like the colour.)

Archway. (For workers to hide from passing trains, I guess.)
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Tunnel exit.
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We emerged from the tunnel into Ashbourne town centre, with time to spare before that bus.


On a rather sunnier day, our second walk was from Bakewell, a town famous for its tarts (no, not that kind). Except, in Bakewell, they're a slightly different recipe and are called 'Bakewell pudding' instead. Just to be different.

The bus was half an hour late, so I took a few pictures around the bus stop in Belper. It's opposite the historic North Mill, one of the first iron-framed buildings in the world. So I took pictures of the modern factory across from it. It's owned by the company that makes Pretty Polly tights.

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Covered windows.
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The bus got us to Bakewell (it takes a while, but the scenery's nice) and we walked around the town a little bit before leaving along a footpath through the grounds of a private school. The path then ran above a river before reaching the village of Ashford in the Water. Despite the name, it was not flooded at the time of our visit.

Large wall with round bit for tree.
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Ashford in the Water is significantly more picturesque than Ashford near Staines (not its official name) where I used to go to sixth-form college. We stopped at a tea shop for a cold drink and cake: another point of difference because Ashford near Staines doesn't have any tea shops, although I think there's a Gregg's.

Nice modern stained glass in the church.
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Bench (in the choir, I think).
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From Ashford our path climbed to a windy plateau along the delightfully-named Pennyunk Lane.

Farm sheds and contrails.
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Walls and fences.
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Field boundary.
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We sat on a convenient bench to eat lunch, then reached the village of Monsal Head. As the name suggests, it's quite high up. We took a path down to the river.

Railway viaduct from above (on that path).
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Bridge across river.
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Once across the river we had to go up a bit to the level of the ex-railway. This one was even part of the main line to Manchester at one point; there are supposedly plans to reopen it, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

A small brick structure by the railway (we are pretending it's a ticket office, but it clearly wasn't).
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We crossed the viaduct (pictured above) and into Headstone Tunnel. Yes, another tunnel - this one only opened to the public in May. It's bigger and more impressive than the Ashbourne tunnel (and has white lighting, too).

One of those archways again.
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Bands of light.
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Tunnel exit cutting.
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The railway path took us all the way to Bakewell (sort of), but it was more interesting and varied than the other line.

For a start, one station (now converted into a private home) sits right next to an impressive old house: Thornbridge Hall. Apparently one of the directors of the Midland Railway lived there, so he got his own station. The hall still has a direct entrance to the platform, although this is probably less useful now.

A second larger station had been converted into a bookshop and café and other businesses (we had a brief look but didn't stop).

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Another bridge.
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Bakewell station, opposite wall (with marks of zigzag roof panels).
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From Bakewell station, it's a little way downhill to the actual town.

Public drinking fountain / horse trough (no it doesn't work).
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After buying Bakewell puddings, we had a little while to wait for the bus. I went to take pictures of a couple of shopfronts I liked: Pizzakebabwell (great name) and this one below, Lady Fair.

Best two signs.
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It's a clothes-and-sewing type shop, and it actually has three different styles of sign lettering, all equally old-fashioned. It's a two-unit shop; the third sign is over the second one that isn't in the picture, and it's also in a script face - but a totally different one. (It's uglier, doesn't actually fit in the available space, and is misaligned as a result. You're not missing much.)

Anyway, isn't it great? They have another branch in Matlock. I bet that has a different typeface too.

After that excitement, we got the bus back in plenty of time.

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.