Derbyshire Walk - Linacre Reservoirs
PUBLISHED: 15:51 27 March 2015 | UPDATED: 22:11 27 March 2015
Only a couple of miles as the crow flies from the famous Crooked Spire, Linacre Reservoirs lie in rural tranquillity close to the pretty little village of Old Brampton on the outskirts of Chesterfield. Sally Mosley heads north east of the county for an ideal spring walk which its well worth revisiting at bluebell time
Distance: 5.5 MILES
Parking: Linacre Reservoirs car park (pay & display) off B6050 at Woodnook Lane, Cutthorpe S42 7AU
Terrain: Four stiles, three gates and several sets of steps. Some walking along narrow lanes without pavement as well as fields to cross where livestock may be grazing. Paths near reservoirs are close to deep water. Some areas are likely to be muddy in winter or following heavy rain.
Refreshments: The Royal Oak, Hollins, Old Brampton (closed Mondays)
Toilets: Next to Rangers Office beside Lower Dam
Map: O.S. Explorer OL24 – White Peak
Walk Highlight: First glimpse of the Crooked Spire
Description: On the eastern flank of the Peak District moors there are peaceful vales and hollows nestling between ancient tracks that lead down to the historic market town of Chesterfield. With the occasional distant hum from main road traffic as a reminder of the 21st century, this walk incorporates spells of rural tranquillity as well as scenic beauty and a few dots of smile-provoking whimsy!
1. From the car park walk down to the toilet block and Rangers office where there is an interesting ‘jigsaw puzzle’ information board and map of the Linacre Reservoirs complex. Permission was granted by an Act of Parliament for the Lower Reservoir to be constructed in 1855 (holding capacity 140 million litres), followed by Upper Reservoir in 1885 (575 million litres), and Middle Reservoir in 1904 (410 million litres). Prior to 1909 the water was unfiltered before being pumped to customers, resulting in complaints about its taste and odour. Quote: ‘The appearance of the public water supply was such that the poor used it as soup, the middle class for washing their clothes and the elite for watering their gardens.’
2. Walk down the steep steps to cross over the dam wall of Lower Reservoir and then head uphill to a junction of paths. Bear right and follow the bridlepath with boundary wall on your left and a fence to your right. This leads you to Old Brampton where you emerge by the phone box on the main street of this picturesque linear village.
3. Turn left and walk down to the church dedicated to St Peter and St Paul. Although much restored in 1924, there are still the remains of a Norman doorway in the south wall. Inside are choir stalls erected in 1938 to the memory of Thomas Linacre of Linacre (1450-1524) who was a fellow of All Souls and the first President of the Royal College of Physicians. The church is well known for its clock face curiosity which has 63 minutes to the hour. Installed in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, it is thought that the painter may have over indulged while visiting the George and Dragon pub, which until 2010 was located nearby, resulting in a few too many strokes of his brush on his return!
4. Opposite the church is the attractive white-painted Brampton Hall with gated entrance to the cobbled yard of Hall Farm at the side. Dating mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries, the right wing of the hall could possibly be medieval.
5. Continue down the road past the thatched lych gate and just beyond the church car park cross the road WITH EXTREME CARE to head down the bridleway opposite which becomes a fabulous tree-lined grassy track. Notice that walls hereabouts are built in the dry stone method but using delicate small slabs of gritstone, a stark contrast to the jagged lumps of limestone to the west of the county.
6. On reaching Broomhall Farm turn right to ascend Westwick Lane between high hedgerows of holly, ivy and hawthorn. Glance across to see Old Brampton, now a silhouette on the ridge top to your right. Keep looking behind you for the first glimpse of the Crooked Spire which will eventually become visible as you reach high ground.
7. After passing the imposing and wonderfully positioned Westwick Farm, turn right at a junction and descend steeply on a wonderful old lane which meanders through a ‘Postman Pat’ landscape passing remote properties before going straight through the yard of Frith Hall. This farm has recently been accepted as an environmental project, part of the Environmental Stewardship Agreement with Natural England. The farmhouse dates from 1804 but a barn built about 1600 is reputedly one of the largest cruck structures in Derbyshire, having seven trusses.
8. Continue along the lane, passing an old duck pond with rushes and weeds. This could well be one of the old routes used by John Stevenson who was recorded in 1692 as living at Hallcliffe House, Brampton. He was a yeoman involved in the lead trade and was registered as owning ‘5 pack saddles, geares for 4 of them and a collar of bells’. The bells were worn by all packhorse trains to warn of their approach, some consisting of a long line of up to 100 ponies. This road now becomes Bagthorpe Lane, an easy-to-follow walk, emerging at a little cluster of properties known as Hollins with The Royal Oak opposite.
9. Turn right and follow the roadside pavement to Hemming Green. Prior to the A619 being laid, this former turnpike road of 1759 was the main route from Baslow to Chesterfield. It was used as part of a saltway from Cheshire, entering the market town along Saltergate which acquired its name as long ago as 1285. Just after the quaint former Hollins Wesleyan Chapel of 1846 and Hollins House, walk around a sharp bend and continue to where there are SLOW signs in the road.
10. Turn left on a narrow walled footpath before Priestfield Grange and cross fields and stiles on the well-walked path to return to the reservoirs. When you see the water of Upper Reservoir turn right and walk along the top of the field towards woodland with a wall on your right.
11. Walk down to cross over the dam wall and then turn right and follow a track through trees. The woodland here contains many oak trees along with beech, alder, larch and pine. Conifers are often planted next to reservoirs for two reasons. They keep away farm animals which might pollute the water and after a few years they can be sold for timber. The area is a haven for wildlife and birds as well as a habitat for bugs, beetles and interesting insects. There are many varieties of wild flowers to be found especially bluebells which in spring lie as a carpet beneath the trees.
12. After the dam wall of Middle Reservoir the path goes uphill. Bear left and head up steps to return to the road leading back to the car park.