Monday, 10 May 2010

Lathkill & Bradford Dale

Walk supplied by Angela Clarke of Belper
Start: Moor Lane car park (SK 1939 6445)
Route: Moor Lane car park - Cales Dale - Lathkill Dale - Conksbury Bridge - Alport - Bradford Dale - Moor Lane car park
Distance: 8 miles Ascent: 368 metres Terrain: Good paths, one steep climb.
Refreshments and toilets: None on the route but they are available in Over Haddon and Youlgreave.
Note: Part of the route is on a concessionary track, which may be closed on Wednesdays between October 1st and January 1st.

Although this walk is a pleasure at any time of the year it is, in my opinion, at its best in late spring or early summer, when the flowers are out and the birds, ducks and fish make the rivers a hive of activity.

From the car park entrance turn left, back to the road. Cross the road and follow the signed Limestone Way diagonally across the field to two stone ladder stiles, diagonally opposite each other.

Continue diagonally across the next field towards the wood on the skyline. Cross a further stile before reaching the wood, which is entered via a gate.

Exit the wood via a stone stile and continue diagonally across the field, heading to the right of the farm buildings, to a gate into the next field, which is the start of a route around the farm.

Take the gate opposite, into the wood on the left of the field. Exit this wood via another gate and follow the clear path through two more gates to a field on the other side of the farm buildings. From here you get your first view of the limestone outcrops that are a feature of this section of Lathkill Dale.

Follow the signed path diagonally downhill, passing through four gates, to reach the top of the steps down into Cales Dale. Take the steps to reach a stile at the bottom. After crossing the stile turn right to follow a path to Lathkill Dale. Cross the bridge and turn right to walk alongside the River Lathkill. You will soon see the limestone outcrop ‘Parson’s Crag’ ahead of you. Shortly after that you pass a small, but delightful, waterfall, which I find impossible to simply pass by. The spot is ideal for a coffee break.

Having finally managed to drag yourself away from the waterfall continue following the river. You soon reach a bridge, which gives you access to Bateman’s House, where there is also a shaft that you are allowed to explore.

Having explored Bateman’s House return to the main path and continue along the main track passing, amongst other things, the remains of an old aqueduct and entrances to old mine shafts. Eventually you reach a gate onto the road to Over Haddon, but have you paid the fee for using the footpath, as the sign in the tree close to the gate advises you?

Thankfully you’re not heading up the hill but turning right. Ignore the bridge across the river and instead follow the track, on the left, between the house and the river. After passing through a gate the path widens and the river, when viewed from here, often appears to be a wonderful mix of blues and greens, a result of the slate that covers the bottom of the river. Continue along this path passing the weirs on this stretch of the river until you reach the gate onto the road at the medieval Conksbury Bridge.

Turn right and cross Conksbury Bridge to find a footpath on the left. Follow the clear footpath across several fields and a minor road to eventually reach the hamlet of Alport.

Cross the road and take the signed track opposite to enter Bradford Dale. Follow the clear track through Bradford Dale to a road. Cross the road and walk in front of the small row of cottages to reach a gate. Take the gate and follow the path, which will take you past the weirs and swimming area in Bradford Dale. This section of the dale has several benches making it the ideal place to rest your legs before you start the steep climb out of the dale.

At the next gate turn left to cross the bridge over the river and then continue along the riverbank passing the private fishing pools. As the pools are usually very clear it is easy to spot the fish swimming there even if you’re not allowed to catch them. This area is also a wonderful place for listening to bird-song, especially if you can get there when it is quiet. At the next bridge cross back over the river and follow the steep track uphill to a road.

Turn right along the road and then pause to admire the wonderful views across the valley towards Stanton Moor. After passing a house, on the left of the road, take the gate into a field on the left and follow the path uphill. Exit the field by a stile onto a road. Don’t take the signed footpath opposite; instead turn left along the road to take the next footpath, which heads uphill towards some trees.

Follow the clear, signed, footpath to a gate, which you go through and follow the track back to the car park.
We have taken reasonable steps to ensure that this walk is safe and achievable by walkers of a realistic level of fitness.

The publisher accepts no responsibility for any injuries caused to readers whilst following the walk. Always wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

Angela Clarke supplies a beautiful Derbyshire walk every edition of All Things Local.

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