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Derbyshire Walk - Holloway

PUBLISHED: 00:00 19 November 2015

Along the Cromford Canal

Along the Cromford Canal

as submitted

A walk south-east of Matlock to a village with outstanding views over the Derwent Valley which was the childhood home of Florence Nightingale

High Peak Junction on the Cromford CanalHigh Peak Junction on the Cromford Canal

Description: In an area made famous by the 1990s’ TV series Peak Practice, this walk begins with a long ascent from river level to the dizzy heights of Crich Stand for the reward of far-reaching views. After descending a quiet lane which wends gradually down to Whatstandwell, the return is a tranquil canal path that competes for space beside a river, road and rail on the floor of the densely wooded Derwent Valley.

Distance: 6.5 miles

Parking: High Peak Junction car park DE4 5AA (pay & display)

Terrain: Ten gates and eight stiles. Numerous steps with some awkward short ascents and descents. Rough tracks and woodland paths with trip hazards. Close proximity to water and disused quarry workings. Some roadway walking without pavement. Livestock grazing.

Map by Kate Ridout @earlybirdgraphicsMap by Kate Ridout @earlybirdgraphics

Refreshments: The Family Tree, Whatstandwell

Toilets: High Peak Junction Visitor Centre by the side of Cromford Canal

MAP OS Explorer OL24 (White Peak)

Walk highlight: All-encompassing view from Crich Stand

1 Exit the car park and turn right to walk on the pavement to Lea Bridge where you will see the John Smedley factory, home of knitwear made in England since 1784. Cross the road by the bridge over Lea Brook to access a pavement after a second junction on the left and continue following Mill Lane uphill towards Holloway.

2 At the entrance to Hollins Wood Close cross over the road and go through the gate by a fingerpost opposite. Be guided by an indication arrow to head uphill keeping the wall on your left. Proceed to a kissing gate and high fencing which encloses a deer park which contains a small herd of fallow deer. Do not enter the deer park but continue on the footpath behind a big house to a flat-topped stone wall stile then walk through a field following a high boundary wall. The house is Lea Hurst where Florence Nightingale spent most of her childhood.

3 Cross over the drive and continue across the field to a crossroads of paths. Turn left and walk uphill behind a cottage to a gated stile, emerging onto Bracken Lane. Turn left and walk up to Holloway’s main street, known as Leashaw.

4 Turn right and walk past the butcher’s and an art gallery. Before a tall three-storey house with 40mph signs beyond, go through a stile on the left to ascend a long series of steps. At the top of the wood where there are bungalows to your left, turn right and cross a miniature ravine, then follow the narrow path through bracken to a large gritstone squeeze stile. Through the trees on your right you should now catch glimpses of the wooded valley far below.

5 Turn right and enter a field in a corner by a pair of twisted pine trees. Keeping the wall/fence on your right, cross fields, aiming for Crich Stand as a beacon to guide you. In the second field is a memorial bench where you can rest awhile and admire spectacular views across to Alport Heights and Black Rocks. Head up a grassy track in the third field to a gateway on your right at the top. Do not go through the gateway. Go straight ahead here and walk steeply down a bank through trees, emerging onto a track by a fingerpost sign.

6 Turn right and walk down to the farm drive then follow an arrow on a post to cross diagonally an area of grassland, emerging on the road at Wakebridge.

7 Carefully follow the road to the point of the long sweeping bend then turn left to follow a footpath as indicated by a sign, initially heading up the drive towards Cliff Farm. Just before the house turn right and head uphill on the footpath which is then signposted ‘Crich 1m’. This will bring you to the Glory Mine terminus on the heritage line of Crich Tramway Museum (alighting only).

8 Follow the public footpath sign on a gravel path leading you around the perimeter fence of Crich Quarry where limestone had been extracted for centuries before its closure in 2010. Take heed of warning signs to keep out of this extensive deep excavation. Bear right at a junction in the path and continue to Crich Stand where your views will suddenly become all-encompassing. This is the Regimental Memorial of The Sherwood Foresters, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters and the Mercian Regiment. It is one of a succession of towers or stands on this site. From the top, after a climb of 52 steps, it is said that on a clear day you can see the Humber Bridge, Lincoln Cathedral and views extending over eight counties.

9 Walk down the drive and follow a path to Crich to avoid walking on the road around the bend. Arriving at Town End, head downhill past the entrance to the Crich Tramway Village which is open for 2015 until 1st November. It is fronted by the imposing façade of the Old Assembly Rooms of 1765 which used to be located in Derby Market Place but was moved and reconstructed here following a fire in 1963. However the façade is somewhat like the film set of a Wild West town as there is no actual building behind it. The tramway museum opened in 1959, although the first tram had been bought by the society from Southampton Corporation in 1948 for the princely sum of £10.

10 Just before the Cliff Inn carefully cross over the road and head down Carr Lane, passing characterful properties which benefit from an almost aerial view of the Peak District. Continue heading down Hindersitch Lane to Whatstandwell then turn right and walk down towards the A6 to access the Cromford Canal or to visit the Family Tree tearooms next to the bridge.

11 Walk to High Peak Junction beside Cromford Canal which was built by railway pioneers Jessop and Outram. It opened in 1793 for the purpose of transporting cotton, textiles, lead ore and farm produce out of the Derbyshire hills. Parts of the canal are now a nature reserve and it is said that some 250 species of plants have been recorded here, along with 80 species of hoverfly, butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies, and over 50 types of birds.

Along the way you will pass through a tunnel beyond Gregory Dam and cross the Wigwell Viaduct over the railway line below before passing beside Leawood Pumphouse. This iconic landmark with its tall chimney contains a restored beam engine of 1849 by Graham & Co, made at the Milton Iron Works at Elsecar, Sheffield. It can pump water up from the river some 30 feet below and into the canal at a rate of 800 gallons (4 tons of water) in one stroke.

12 From High Peak Junction follow the footpath for Lea Bridge, crossing over the railway line and river to return to the car park.

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