Peak District Walk - Tideswell and Wheston
PUBLISHED: 00:00 13 December 2019
This perfect winter walk follows a 'wandering' of paths, tracks and quiet lanes over a wonderland of White Peak countryside.
1. Begin your walk at Tideswell Church, affectionately known as the Cathedral of the Peak, which dominates the centre of the village. Standing on the site of an earlier Norman structure, the present building was built between 1300 and 1400 and is dedicated to St John the Baptist. The Black Death delayed its completion with the tower and west window being the last parts to be built. Within are wonderful late 19th century carvings by Advent Hunstone, an accomplished local wood carver. Sir John Betjeman called it a 'grand and inspiring church'. The church is always decorated for Christmas and welcomes visitors during daylight hours.
To the rear of the church is the former Grammar School founded in 1560 by Bishop Purseglove, now home to the famous Tideswell Male Voice Choir. On the front wall of the library building is a plaque to the orphaned children who worked at the infamous Litton Mill in the late 18th and early 19th century and were buried here in unmarked graves.
Leave the churchyard, going through the metal gate at the side of the tower by the footpath sign. Notice that under the wall on the right and topped with a stone cross is the grave of William Newton, who managed Cressbrook Mill and was known as the Minstrel of the Peak for his poetry. Walk towards metal bollards but then turn right and head between houses behind the Star Inn, emerging at Market Square. Tideswell was awarded a market charter in 1250. Notice on the left the elevated former Oddfellows Hall - originally a meeting place for the mutual friendly society - which dates from 1872. In 1921 it became the local Picture House.
2. Walk through the former market place and continue on Manchester Road before turning left up Wheston Bank. Notice on the right of the junction is a house with CONSTABULARY carved on a stone window lintel. This well-built property was originally the local police station.
Notice on the left after a bend is an information plaque for the Tideswell Community Orchard scheme. The orchard and wildflower meadow was planted in 2018 to mark the centenary of the Armistice and to honour the 75 men of Tideswell parish who fell in the Great War.
3. Turn right at a footpath sign and walk along a fabulous old accommodation lane, laid so that farmers could access fields on either side. Notice a few surviving small stone field barns.
4. Turn left onto Water Lane and then left again into Wheston which is only a small hamlet but located on a very old route. A short detour to the right and you will find Wheston Cross. It is said to be one of the earliest in the county and is located in a small enclosure on the left where it was placed in the last century for safe-keeping. The cross probably dates from the 14th century when it marked the way from Tideswell to Buxton on the forest road, then known as Kirkgate or Crossgate. This era of the Middle Ages is referred to as the 'Age of Faith' because no traveller would have passed a cross without offering a prayer for their safe journey. Until the 18th century Wheston was known as Whetstone, recorded in Domesday Book as being an outlier of Hope under the King's manor of Tideswell.
Wheston Hall was built in the late 16th century and consisted at that time of a tower three storeys high. In 1727 a new nine-bay range was added to the north, giving the house a Georgian façade. Two further gables were created to the east and the land around was transformed into a country estate with an avenue of trees that ended in a fine pair of gate piers with pineapple finials. Over the following centuries the house fell into disrepair with parts disused and ruinous. In 1952 the west wing and north front collapsed in a gale, resulting in sections of the house being demolished to reduce it to a more manageable size. Most of the landscaped grounds have now returned to farmland but the stone pineapple finials can still be seen.
5. Turn up a track to the left of Wheston Hall to follow a stretch of the Pennine Bridleway. When joining Monksdale Lane this will then become a sound tarmac surface.
6. At the crossroads continue ahead along the restricted byway which is part of the Limestone Way long distance walk, which runs south from Castleton to Rocester in Staffordshire. From this elevated track there are fabulous views stretching way to the south and over to the west beyond Monk's Dale that lies hidden only a field away.
7. Bear left at a T-junction and continue to follow the grassy track until it eventually emerges onto Meadow Lane.
8. Turn left and then almost immediately right to descend a narrow, single track lane which passes between walls and fields in an area reminiscent of Greendale in a scene from Postman Pat, the CBeebies TV programme!
9. Take the second turning right to walk along Sherwood Road. It is lined with the characterful properties that make Tideswell such a unique hotchpotch of buildings, constructed over a span of several centuries and divided up by a network of ginnels and alleyways.
10. There are several options for descending to Cherry Orchard Square that allow further exploration of this picturesque village. These include Sunny Bank, where you emerge close to shops. From here it is a short walk back through the heart of the village to return to the church.
Distance: 5.5 miles
Parking: Roadside around Tideswell - please be respectful of resident parking and designated spaces for shops etc.
Terrain: Tracks, trails and quiet lanes without stiles or gates. Some areas prone to mud and uneven terrain. Roadside walking without pavement.
Refreshments: Pubs, tearooms and village stores in Tideswell
Toilets: Public toilets in Queen Street, Tideswell
Map: O.S. Explorer OL24 - White Peak
Walk highlight: Medieval roadside cross at Wheston
Description: After exploring the centre of Tideswell with the option of seeing inside the Cathedral of the Peak, this amble passes between a long succession of fields encompassed by mile upon mile of painstakingly erected drystone walls created from locally quarried limestone. The easy-to-follow route follows mainly green lanes and single track roads, offering plenty of opportunity to 'sightsee' for miles across a dramatic landscape created by nature but fashioned by farmers.