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Details

  • Start: Little Eaton United Reformed Church
  • End: Little Eaton United Reformed Church
  • Country: England
  • County: Derbyshire
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: The Queen’s Head
  • Ordnance Survey:
  • Difficulty: Medium

Description

Ashley Franklin gets ever closer to Derby as we near the end of his series of walks down the Derwent Valley


Walk 15: The Mound 7 miles. Walk devised by Mike Warner


Terrain Description: A gradual climb to Morley Lane then a mixture of quiet roads (apart from crossing the A38) and undulating farmland.


Parking: A lay-by across the road from the United Reformed Church at Little Eaton on the B6179. GR362413. DE21 5DF


I take joy in these walks because, ironically, it gives me plenty of opportunity to be grumpy. Like me, Mike is of a certain age and what is certain about that age is that we jump at any chance to be cranky, cantankerous, malcontented misery-guts. So a walk of seven miles for two grumps is more than ample time to vent several spleens and put the world to rights.


According to research, we cant help being crabby: its our shrinking libidos. At the turn of the millennium, a Scottish scientist coined the term Irritable Male Syndrome after studying the mating cycle of sheep. In autumn he found that the rams testosterone levels soared and they mated. In the winter testosterone levels fell and, as well as losing interest in sex, they became irritable and started carping about their shepherds poor customer service and the drop in quality of the local grass. Its ironic but I actually find seven miles-worth of grumpy outbursts quite cathartic, especially if the man alongside you is vigorously nodding his head in agreement.


I felt the pangs of my Irritable Male Syndrome within moments of parking the car. I am a card-carrying member of the late Keith Waterhouses AAAA the Association for the Annihilation of the Aberrant Apostrophe and thus groan at greengrocers selling peas and beans. Even typing those two words with apostrophes pained me. Equally, I will forever flinch at seeing words where the rightful apostrophe is missing, as in Earls Court. Ouch again.


I had barely booted up for the walk before gazing across the road at The Queens Head or, as was writ large on both wall and sign, Queens Head. If the brewery had printed Traditional Ales underneath, a stiff missive would have been in the post before you could say Waterstones. It pained me to type that, too, even though this spelling of the book store chain without apostrophe is now official. Its all to do with being more practical in the modern age, as the spelling change supposedly simplifies internet searches and email. Really? I just typed in Waterstones on my search engine and the book store still came up.


Before going further, I need to mention the pleasing news that since going on this walk, the Derby Brewing Company has taken over The Queens Head and restored the apostrophe. Thats as good a reason as any to go in and celebrate with a pint. Or maybe more: this brilliantly revamped pub has nine real ales at any one time. I note, too, that their meat comes from well-loved local butcher Barry Fitch whose shop is just a few doors away. Should you do this walk, give yourself a half-way treat by picking up a pork pie from Fitchs. Also, when you behold this spacious modern shop, run by Barry and his family for nearly 40 years, try and envisage its small beginnings when, as Barry recalls, the shop was a small room lit by a single light bulb which you couldnt see for the flies.


With this former towns industry combining with the villages pleasant rural aspect, Barry Fitch refers to Little Eaton as a garden city. Like Chicago, its a windy city, too. As we walked down the main Alfreton Road, I told a shirt-sleeved Mike that he should have worn his fleece: a village booklet reveals that cold air from the north is frequently funnelled down this road, to such notable effect that a street was named Wind Arse Lane. To ease the residents embarrassment, it was eventually changed to Windy Lane.


As we left Little Eaton behind and headed towards Breadsall, there was little wind and plenty of sunshine. This was a perfect May day. Mike goes walking whatever the weather but knows he has to wait for blue sky days before I agree to come out. This is simply because I have to take photographs, and endless images of Mike rambling through dimly lit fields under dark, apocalyptic clouds would hardly encourage anyone to follow in our footsteps. The view of him striding through a sun-kissed rape field under an azure canopy dotted with fluffy white clouds does make you want to be there, doesnt it? I am fortunate always to see Derbyshire in the best light, quite literally.


I have often called off our walk because of an adverse forecast, although Im not one to complain about rain, clouds, wind and snow. I like the quote I once heard from a Mediterranean Anglophile: Where I live, we have climate; but where you live, you have weather. Would you really want Mediterranean wall-to-wall blue skies here? I wouldnt. For one thing, when taking photographs, direct sun results in burnt out colours and harsh shadows. As it is, in Derbyshire we mostly get what I love: changeable weather, which means there is a fair chance your landscape photographs will be different from any other day. After all, photography does mean writing with light so a landscape photo is not of the land but of the light that falls on the land.


What made our May day perfect wasnt just the comfortable warmth and the sunshine. It was also the clouds. Im with the nature writer Ralph Waldo Emerson who described the sky as the ultimate art gallery above. I find cloud-watching life-affirming and its no surprise to me that the highest number of people in therapy live under the constant, monotonous blue skies of California. Maybe they should join the Cloud Appreciation Society founded in 2004 to fight the banality of blue-sky thinking and spread the word that contemplation of clouds benefits the soul. I certainly felt a genuine frisson encountering the awe-inspiring cumulus congestus looming above the trees on a hill overlooking Little Eaton.


As we climbed up to Morley Lane with the quintessentially English spire of Breadsalls parish church behind us, we paused to smile at a pair of cows standing in front of a sign warning dog owners of sheep. Their intent gaze seemed to be their way of saying: Were here, too, you know. I was reminded of my Breadsall feature in Derbyshire Life on meeting 94-year-old resident Ted Mather. He told me that as a lad he used to follow the fox and hounds across this land when Lord Petersham, later the Earl of Harrington, lived in Breadsall Lodge. Ted also remembered a village with more cattle traffic than cars and bemoaned the fact that Breadsall had become a sleeping headquarters as he termed it. I did wonder, as we ventured further into this blissful, bucolic landscape, whether the dormitory dwellers realise what lies beyond their doorstep.


You will know if you own a dog, of course. I am not a great lover of dogs a corgi bite on a paper round saw to that but I envy those who are in one sense. When invited next door to a party, my wife and I found it teeming with villagers we hadnt met. Our dog-owning hosts have lived next door for about 15 years, compared with our 35, but know far more locals. While respective pooches have a sniff, friendships are formed and you only need to watch 101 Dalmatians to realise that mans best friend can also be a lonely hearts agent.


As we walked past a cottage called Bleak House, I wondered how a bachelor would feel if he followed a fellow female dog-walker back to this dwelling. Did the owners bear a Dickensian name? I almost rang the bell and announced: Mr Snagsby on urgent business for my trusted client Sir Leicester Dedlock. Am I perchance addressing Mrs Smallweed?


Further on we passed houses dating back to well before Dickens. The Morley Almhouses were erected in the 17th century to accommodate Six poor, lame or impotent men. Presumably thats impotent as in helpless or decrepit; even today, being low in libido wouldnt give you a high rating on any housing list.


While walking through the middle of a field of oilseed rape I decided that as our climate isnt suited to sunflowers or olive trees, we should use more rapeseed oil if only for the mellow yellow glow as it grows. Happily, rapeseed oil is growing in popularity as the British olive oil not least because it has about half the saturated fat and ten times more omega 3!


Rapeseed yellow isnt the only colour to behold in these parts. There is also the delightfully named yellow archangel. This comes into bloom just as the bluebells are fading, replacing the blue carpet of a spring woodland with a golden-yellow one. Wood sorrel, climbing corydalis and foxglove can also be seen, and, because of the acidic soils, lots of pedunculate oak, silver birch and rowan. There is plenty of fauna, too, including brown hare and, if youre lucky and patient, water vole in the streams. If you spot one and then see a kingfisher, go out and buy a lottery ticket.


You will easily spot The Mound, but its not so easy to work out what it was used for. Its described on the internet as a medieval earthwork motte. A motte is a natural or man-made mound on which a castle was erected but as we decided that only a large Wendy House would fit on it, we fell back on the theory that it must have housed a lookout post.


On the way down to Breadsall is the beautiful, undulating parkland of the Priorys 400 acres. Plenty of room there to swing a club. All Saints Church, described by John Betjeman as having possibly the finest spire in Derbyshire, and damson trees, are two things Breadsall is renowned for. Long ago, damsons were used to make dyes at Derbys Silk Mill. Resident June Antill still makes damson gin adding both gin and sherry. A great cure for colds, she advised me, though if it doesnt work after a few swigs, you are probably past caring anyway.


As we walk out of a sleepy Breadsall, the relentless noise of traffic on the A61 brings us back to earth. Once across the road though we seem to be in almost primeval countryside, a feeling engendered by the wild-looking but amiable horses roaming free. I pause to photograph Dryads Saddle fungus which goes under the splendid Latin name of Polyporous Squamosus. We cross an elaborate metal railway bridge and descend onto a vast area that is used for growing turf. It almost feels as if we are walking out onto the Wembley pitch, which is a neat way of mentioning that Mikes beloved Chesterfield FC recently returned from Wembley with the Johnstones Paint Trophy. Its funny, but when I asked Mike about his clubs chances of staying in Division One, he upped his walking pace all the way back to Little Eaton.


Walk Information




1From the lay by, walk south towards Derby. After New Inn Lane on the right, take the public footpath sign to Breadsall.





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Eventually our path turns right past the official footpath sign and then bears left under the A38 to pass through a metal farm gate. Locate a wooden stile beside a gap in the fence and then turn almost back on yourself to climb the flight of steps in front of you onto the A38. Cross over a stile to reach the road and turn left over the railway line and then immediately turn left again at a footpath sign for Ford Lane. Go along Ford Lane for 400 yards until meeting the B6179 on our left at a roundabout. Here, turn left passing the Little Chef on the left and proceed for one mile to reach the starting point at Little Eaton United Reformed Church.
Once across, go through a kissing gate and take the footpath to a railway footbridge. At the end of the bridge, turn right and immediately cross a wooden stile and then two wooden footbridges to reach a field corner. Our way is now diagonally across this field aiming slightly to the left of the church on the skyline. Follow a track to the right of the River Derwent.


At a wooden stile, turn left on the road for half a mile, heading towards Breadsall Church. Pass to the right of the church and turn right at the road junction (Moor Road), shortly followed by another road junction where we bear left on Moor Road. Turn right into Croft Lane which we follow for a third of a mile until reaching an area of rocks where the road bears left. Turn right here and follow a cycle track to the A61 cross with very great care!


Once through, follow the right hand field boundary to meet, in 150 yards, a metal kissing gate. Turn almost immediately right over a wooden stile and then follow the left hand field edge for 250 yards to meet and pass through a metal kissing gate. Keep forward, passing through a gap in the hedge to a farm track. Ignore the track and instead keep ahead bearing slightly right to pick up the right hand field edge for a third of a mile until reaching and passing through a gap in the hedge at the field corner. Once through, turn half right across the next field for 200 yards to reach Moor Road.


Ignore the track and, instead, turn right for 50 yards along a right hand field edge to meet and cross over a wooden stile, then a wooden footbridge followed by another wooden stile. Turn right along a right hand field edge for 200 yards, going over a wooden stile. Continue along the right hand field following a line of power cables for 400 yards to the field corner where we meet and cross over a wooden stile, followed by a wooden footbridge, followed by a metal kissing gate.


Cross the road with care and walk along Morley Almhouses Lane until the road bears right. Keep ahead at a public footpath sign, squeezing between the metal barrier on the left and a wall on the right on to a farm track. Keep ahead across the field aiming to the left of a belt of trees in front of you to meet another farm track coming in from the right. Follow this track for 400 yards until passing under power lines and bearing right. Now stop and turn to the left where you will see The Mound.


Turn right along Morley Lane for one mile. On reaching Priory Cottages, turn right through a wall gap to follow a right hand field edge with the golf course on the right for 150 yards. Pass through another wall gap at the end of the field, then bear half left for 150 yards across the next field. At the corner of the field, continue through a small area of woodland. We then reach the road at a T junction to the hamlet of Morley Moor.Follow the track which gradually climbs uphill for nearly half a mile to reach and pass through another metal farm gate. Once through, pass between Bleak House on the left and a reservoir on the right as a wide tarmacadam track points the route ahead. We eventually reach a road via a stile.


Pass through a wooden farm gate. With the entrance to Breadsall Manor on the right, turn left up a minor road until you reach Glebe Farm. Keep ahead through a metal farm gate on a clear track.


At a track junction, turn left under the A61, taking the right path through the flyover and walk gradually uphill for a third of a mile.


Keep ahead following the right hand field edge for 200 yards. Pass through a wooden squeezer stile and keep ahead for a further 200 yards to reach a wooden stile and footbridge at the field edge. Once over, continue ahead along a wider gravel path which ascends and descends gradually for 300 yards to the A61.





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Eventually our path turns right past the official footpath sign and then bears left under the A38 to pass through a metal farm gate. Locate a wooden stile beside a gap in the fence and then turn almost back on yourself to climb the flight of steps in front of you onto the A38. Cross over a stile to reach the road and turn left over the railway line and then immediately turn left again at a footpath sign for Ford Lane. Go along Ford Lane for 400 yards until meeting the B6179 on our left at a roundabout. Here, turn left passing the Little Chef on the left and proceed for one mile to reach the starting point at Little Eaton United Reformed Church.
Once across, go through a kissing gate and take the footpath to a railway footbridge. At the end of the bridge, turn right and immediately cross a wooden stile and then two wooden footbridges to reach a field corner. Our way is now diagonally across this field aiming slightly to the left of the church on the skyline. Follow a track to the right of the River Derwent.


At a wooden stile, turn left on the road for half a mile, heading towards Breadsall Church. Pass to the right of the church and turn right at the road junction (Moor Road), shortly followed by another road junction where we bear left on Moor Road. Turn right into Croft Lane which we follow for a third of a mile until reaching an area of rocks where the road bears left. Turn right here and follow a cycle track to the A61 cross with very great care!


Once through, follow the right hand field boundary to meet, in 150 yards, a metal kissing gate. Turn almost immediately right over a wooden stile and then follow the left hand field edge for 250 yards to meet and pass through a metal kissing gate. Keep forward, passing through a gap in the hedge to a farm track. Ignore the track and instead keep ahead bearing slightly right to pick up the right hand field edge for a third of a mile until reaching and passing through a gap in the hedge at the field corner. Once through, turn half right across the next field for 200 yards to reach Moor Road.


Ignore the track and, instead, turn right for 50 yards along a right hand field edge to meet and cross over a wooden stile, then a wooden footbridge followed by another wooden stile. Turn right along a right hand field edge for 200 yards, going over a wooden stile. Continue along the right hand field following a line of power cables for 400 yards to the field corner where we meet and cross over a wooden stile, followed by a wooden footbridge, followed by a metal kissing gate.


Cross the road with care and walk along Morley Almhouses Lane until the road bears right. Keep ahead at a public footpath sign, squeezing between the metal barrier on the left and a wall on the right on to a farm track. Keep ahead across the field aiming to the left of a belt of trees in front of you to meet another farm track coming in from the right. Follow this track for 400 yards until passing under power lines and bearing right. Now stop and turn to the left where you will see The Mound.


Turn right along Morley Lane for one mile. On reaching Priory Cottages, turn right through a wall gap to follow a right hand field edge with the golf course on the right for 150 yards. Pass through another wall gap at the end of the field, then bear half left for 150 yards across the next field. At the corner of the field, continue through a small area of woodland. We then reach the road at a T junction to the hamlet of Morley Moor.Follow the track which gradually climbs uphill for nearly half a mile to reach and pass through another metal farm gate. Once through, pass between Bleak House on the left and a reservoir on the right as a wide tarmacadam track points the route ahead. We eventually reach a road via a stile.


Pass through a wooden farm gate. With the entrance to Breadsall Manor on the right, turn left up a minor road until you reach Glebe Farm. Keep ahead through a metal farm gate on a clear track.


At a track junction, turn left under the A61, taking the right path through the flyover and walk gradually uphill for a third of a mile.


Keep ahead following the right hand field edge for 200 yards. Pass through a wooden squeezer stile and keep ahead for a further 200 yards to reach a wooden stile and footbridge at the field edge. Once over, continue ahead along a wider gravel path which ascends and descends gradually for 300 yards to the A61.




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Eventually our path turns right past the official footpath sign and then bears left under the A38 to pass through a metal farm gate. Locate a wooden stile beside a gap in the fence and then turn almost back on yourself to climb the flight of steps in front of you onto the A38. Cross over a stile to reach the road and turn left over the railway line and then immediately turn left again at a footpath sign for Ford Lane. Go along Ford Lane for 400 yards until meeting the B6179 on our left at a roundabout. Here, turn left passing the Little Chef on the left and proceed for one mile to reach the starting point at Little Eaton United Reformed Church.
Once across, go through a kissing gate and take the footpath to a railway footbridge. At the end of the bridge, turn right and immediately cross a wooden stile and then two wooden footbridges to reach a field corner. Our way is now diagonally across this field aiming slightly to the left of the church on the skyline. Follow a track to the right of the River Derwent.


At a wooden stile, turn left on the road for half a mile, heading towards Breadsall Church. Pass to the right of the church and turn right at the road junction (Moor Road), shortly followed by another road junction where we bear left on Moor Road. Turn right into Croft Lane which we follow for a third of a mile until reaching an area of rocks where the road bears left. Turn right here and follow a cycle track to the A61 cross with very great care!


Once through, follow the right hand field boundary to meet, in 150 yards, a metal kissing gate. Turn almost immediately right over a wooden stile and then follow the left hand field edge for 250 yards to meet and pass through a metal kissing gate. Keep forward, passing through a gap in the hedge to a farm track. Ignore the track and instead keep ahead bearing slightly right to pick up the right hand field edge for a third of a mile until reaching and passing through a gap in the hedge at the field corner. Once through, turn half right across the next field for 200 yards to reach Moor Road.


Ignore the track and, instead, turn right for 50 yards along a right hand field edge to meet and cross over a wooden stile, then a wooden footbridge followed by another wooden stile. Turn right along a right hand field edge for 200 yards, going over a wooden stile. Continue along the right hand field following a line of power cables for 400 yards to the field corner where we meet and cross over a wooden stile, followed by a wooden footbridge, followed by a metal kissing gate.


Cross the road with care and walk along Morley Almhouses Lane until the road bears right. Keep ahead at a public footpath sign, squeezing between the metal barrier on the left and a wall on the right on to a farm track. Keep ahead across the field aiming to the left of a belt of trees in front of you to meet another farm track coming in from the right. Follow this track for 400 yards until passing under power lines and bearing right. Now stop and turn to the left where you will see The Mound.


Turn right along Morley Lane for one mile. On reaching Priory Cottages, turn right through a wall gap to follow a right hand field edge with the golf course on the right for 150 yards. Pass through another wall gap at the end of the field, then bear half left for 150 yards across the next field. At the corner of the field, continue through a small area of woodland. We then reach the road at a T junction to the hamlet of Morley Moor.Follow the track which gradually climbs uphill for nearly half a mile to reach and pass through another metal farm gate. Once through, pass between Bleak House on the left and a reservoir on the right as a wide tarmacadam track points the route ahead. We eventually reach a road via a stile.


Pass through a wooden farm gate. With the entrance to Breadsall Manor on the right, turn left up a minor road until you reach Glebe Farm. Keep ahead through a metal farm gate on a clear track.


At a track junction, turn left under the A61, taking the right path through the flyover and walk gradually uphill for a third of a mile.


Keep ahead following the right hand field edge for 200 yards. Pass through a wooden squeezer stile and keep ahead for a further 200 yards to reach a wooden stile and footbridge at the field edge. Once over, continue ahead along a wider gravel path which ascends and descends gradually for 300 yards to the A61.




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