Derbyshire Walk - Kirk Ireton
PUBLISHED: 14:59 18 April 2017
A perfect spring walk for bird watchers, nature lovers and those seeking far-reaching views. Sally Mosley leads the way
DESCRIPTION: This ramble around Kirk Ireton is a delight to the senses. Enjoy far-reaching panoramic views whilst listening to nature’s symphony performed by water fowl on the reservoir and song birds flitting about in the hedgerows and trees. See wild flowers in abundance and share in the joy of new life in the fields as you watch lambs gambolling in the spring sunshine. DISTANCE: 5.75 miles
PARKING: Millfields car park, Carsington Water DE6 3JS; pay & display; barrier controlled. Grid Ref: 246499
TERRAIN: 10+ stiles, 4 gates. Moderate walk starting mainly with paths and tracks, some sections shared with cyclists. Quiet country lanes without pavements then fields and stiles. Two footbridges over streams. Areas prone to mud. Livestock grazing. Fields possibly planted with crops.
REFRESHMENTS: The Barley Mow and Community Shop, Kirk Ireton (snacks only and limited opening hours)
TOILETS: Millfields car park
MAP: O.S. Explorer OL24 (White Peak)
WALK HIGHLIGHT: Stunning ‘big sky’ view across Carsington Water
1 Leave the car park at the far end, joining the circular reservoir path heading anti-clockwise. Follow footpath signs and fingerposts indicating the route for walkers. Soon you will come to a stone building used as a shelter – containing a quirky arrangement of wooden ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ furniture – made from the remains of farm buildings flooded when the reservoir was created back in 1991.
Continue along the reservoir path with views across to the Visitor Centre and Sailing Club on the far shore. Look and listen for birds as this is one of the best places in the county to encounter not only common garden and field birds with well recognised names, but also rare birds and visitors passing through. A record is kept of bird sightings which last spring listed wood warbler, sedge warbler, pied flycatcher, whitethroat and whimbrel. Around the water’s edge black-tailed godwit, dunlin, shelduck and great northern divers were spotted, whilst on 18th April two osprey were observed circling around the reservoir.
2 Arriving at a gateway with Upperfield Farm in front, turn right and walk up Oldfields Lane. As you ascend, look across the reservoir to where the wind turbines are planted on Carsington Pastures. For thousands of years the limestone hills hereabouts were exploited for lead ore (Lutudarum, the Roman lead mining centre, is thought by some historians to have been somewhere in the vicinity of Carsington Water). Daniel Defoe passed here on his travels which led to his book A tour thro’ the whole island of Great Britain (1724–27), and came across a poor lead miner emerging from a shaft. He described him as ‘a subterranean creature... lean as a skeleton, pale as a dead corps (sic), his hair and beard a deep black, his flesh lank, and, as we thought, something of the colour of the lead itself’!
3 Turn left at the junction to walk along Blind Lane from where there is actually lots to see! As you become more elevated Carsington Water will recede into the distance to become just a giant puddle in the hills.
4 At Moor Lane crossroads head over and proceed along Half Moon Lane. The ridge top road here is an ancient route. Centuries ago this was part of the main road from Derby leading to the north. In a manuscript of 1502 there is a reference to ‘the gate at the end of the vill of Kyrkreton through which runs the way from le Peak to Derbye’. From up here you will enjoy sweeping views of the Ecclesbourne Valley. See the mast above Black Rocks to the north-east, Bole Hill and Alport Heights topped with aerials and glance to the south to see a power station on the far horizon beyond Derby.
5 Turn right and follow the road sign for Idridgehay, descending Moorside to Topshill Farm. From this lane it is possible to see Wirksworth Church with its tiny steeple atop a squat tower, surrounded by old town buildings.
6 Cross the staggered junction where Wapentake Lane descends steeply on the left, and proceed along Tinkerley Lane continuing in the direction of Idridgehay. Wapentake is a very old word said to be the rough equivalent in Danelaw of the Anglo Saxon ‘hundred’, which was a subdivision of a shire or county. It is often found used in association with a meeting place or crossroads.
7 At Alton Hall go through a narrow stile by a fingerpost at the start of the driveway on your right. Cross a small paddock to a further stile then go over a track and across the corner of a field to a stile in the hedgerow. The following field may be planted with a crop. The next stile is formed by two old upright stone posts. It is located diagonally right in the far corner, from where a steep path drops down to a footbridge over a brook in Bottoms Wood.
8 From the footbridge, walk ahead uphill with a wooded hollow on your left. About 25 yards from the top of the field see a wooden stile down to your left which accesses a narrow path through holly bushes to a further footbridge.
9 Head up the grassy bank with bramble thicket hedge on your left. Continue uphill to a partially concealed stile in the top right-hand corner. This provides access to a walled path leading up to Rectory Lane, emerging in Kirk Ireton at Church Corner. At one time known as St Lawrence’s, this house of worship is now dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
Here the unusual tradition of roping is still said to be upheld at weddings. It involves children stretching a rope across the road outside the church and making the bride and groom pay up with silver before granting them freedom to leave!
10 Proceed straight ahead, with the church on your right and the village green on your left, up the Main Street. Kirk Ireton is situated 700 feet above sea level and is surrounded by a rural landscape of undulating hills, quiet country lanes and lots of fields enclosed by hedgerows. Its name is said to be a corruption of the Saxon Hyre-tun meaning the ‘Irishman’s enclosure’.
The main street contains some beautiful houses and cottages. Church Farmhouse dates from the 17th century and has tiny mullioned windows. Northfield Farmhouse and the Manor House are 18th century, built in a Georgian style. Buxton Hall Farmhouse reputedly contains a cruck truss. Also look out for old road names such as Coffin Lane and Hemp Yard.
Further up the road is the Barley Mow public house which was built in 1683 and is one of the oldest properties in the village. It is said that the famous artist George Turner lived here until his death in 1910. He worked in oils and painted bucolic scenes of his native Derbyshire depicting the countryside in all its glory. The pub is the last survivor of four village hostelries. In the stables next door, and most worthy of a visit, is the Kirk Ireton Community Shop.
11 At the top of the village beyond the pub turn left at Top Green. Walk a short distance to a stile with fingerpost on the right. Head to the top right corner of the first field then cross a succession of fields and stiles on a well-walked path.
12 On reaching a road, go straight over and descend Hays Lane, a hollowed out old route that once led down to cross the Scow Brook before continuing to Hognaston. However, since the reservoir was constructed it comes to a watery end. Turn left at the bottom to retrace your steps back to the car park.