Peak District walk - Longnor
PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 November 2018
This walk offers a dance with the Dove and a meander by the Manifold, whilst along the way passing a church, castle remains, country houses and a hollow way
1. From the cobbled market place near the crossroads at the heart of Longnor head up Chapel Street, which is a narrow alleyway between the cafés. This leads up to St Bartholomew’s Church which was built in 1780 in an Italianate style, replacing a much earlier church which is thought to have been constructed in the 12th century. The only surviving relic of this is a Norman font which is a rare example of its kind.
In the churchyard and down near the back wall of a house, you can find a most interesting gravestone to William Billinge who served in the Duke of Marlborough’s campaign, fought at the Battle of Ramillies and died in 1791 aged 112! The lengthy epitaph includes ‘Billeted by death I quartered here remain. When the trumpet sounds, I’ll rise and march again.’
Proceed along Church Street then turn left by a large wooden building and head up past retirement bungalows on a path to Top o’ th’ Edge.
2. Turn left and walk to a gate with a bridlepath sign and descend a steep track, all the time admiring views across the valley into Derbyshire. The hill opposite, with trig point summit, is High Wheeldon which reaches a height of 1,348 feet above sea level. It was given to the nation as a memorial to the men of Derbyshire and Staffordshire who fell in the Second World War, and then made over to the National Trust.
3. Walk past the ‘bathtub’ trough and then to the left of a field barn, following the footpath to Beggars Bridge which will take you over the River Dove, which acts as the county border. Along the way, look left to see the jagged summits of Parkhouse, Chrome and Hitter reef knoll hills. These are examples of a kind of coral reef formed by immense piles of calcareous material on an ancient sea floor during the Carboniferous era.
4. On meeting the drive to Underhill, go over a wall stile on your right to cross fields and stiles followed by a farm track past Meadow Farm, emerging at the little hamlet of Crowdecote. Turn right and walk down past quaint little houses and the dainty little Toll Cottage.
The original bridge over the Dove here was a wooden footbridge. However, in 1709 a stone packhorse bridge was constructed to enable heavily laden ponies to cross as this was on a much-used route between Royal Cottage on the Buxton to Leek road via Monyash to Ashford and Bakewell. It is believed the name Crowdecote is a corruption of Cruda’s Cot – Cruda was a Saxon landowner and a cot is a form of shelter.
5. Do not cross over the bridge but head along the road towards Bridge End Farm with the river on your right. Go through the yard and then continue along the footpath in the bottom of the valley through a series of fields to the remains of Pilsbury Castle. Notice along the way how the gritstone ridge upon which Longnor is situated is in stark geological contrast to hills and outcrops of limestone to your left on the eastern side of the valley.
Impressive earthworks are all that now remain of Pilsbury Castle which was constructed soon after the Norman Conquest. It consisted of a motte and bailey which is thought to have been topped by a wooden palisade rather than an actual stone castle, positioned here to control the Dove Valley whilst making use of a natural limestone knoll that was incorporated into its defences.
6. Continue along a grassy track to the hamlet of Pilsbury, which is a cluster of remote old houses set amongst mature trees and sited on the gated road to Hartington. Across the valley you will see the impressive 17th century Broadmeadow Hall that replaced a medieval dwelling.
7. Turn right and walk down the bridlepath to a narrow footbridge taking you back into Staffordshire. Head up the ancient hollow way that ascends the flanks of Sheen Hill – a gritstone eminence rising to 1,247 feet that is yet another trig point summit.
8. On meeting the ridge top road follow the sign for Brund on a quiet lane which for a time heads uphill to the right of Sheen Hill before descending towards the River Manifold. All around are distant views across the Staffordshire Moorlands. On days when the sun hides behind powder-puff clouds, watch how it casts shadows over the land, playing hide and shade with the hilltops.
9. After Sheen Lane Farm turn right at a small crossroads and follow the road to Pool, yet another small community comprising just a cluster of cottages.
10. Just before a sharp right-hand bend by Ridge End Farm turn left down a grassy path by a footpath sign. Beyond a derelict cottage turn right and cross over a high wall stile.
11. Follow the footpath through meadows beside the Manifold to return to Longnor. The path passes close to Lower Boothlow and then crosses the drive to Over Boothlow. On this side of the valley there are some fabulous examples of narrow medieval strip fields.
12. Leave the riverside path by going through a stile and head uphill to Folds End Farm. Be guided by footpath signs indicating the right of way which passes through the farmyard between large modern sheds. Head up the drive to emerge back in Longnor on High Street.
Distance: 7.5 miles
Parking: Market Place, Longnor and roadside around the village (please be considerate of resident parking spaces) SK17 0NT Grid Ref: 089649
Terrain: 20+ gates & stiles. This walk mainly follows field and stile footpaths where livestock grazes, with some areas prone to mud. Roadway without pavement. Narrow footbridge over the Dove at Pilsbury.
Refreshments: The Cheshire Cheese Inn, Cobbles Café and the Craft Centre Tearoom in Longnor. The Packhorse Inn, Crowdecote.
Toilets: Market Place, Longnor
Map: O.S. Explorer OL24 – White Peak
Walk highlight: Views of dramatic reef knoll hills
Description: Dipping into Derbyshire and strolling through Staffordshire, this undulating rural ramble takes you over a spectacular landscape of isolated hill farms and ancient field enclosures that are dotted with cattle and sheep. On a clear day there are wonderful far-reaching views in every direction.