Peak District walk - Rudyard Lake and Bradwell Moor
PUBLISHED: 16:19 28 September 2020
Why this 5-mile scenic hike is the perfect autumn activity
Distance: 5 miles
Parking: Roadside at Old Dam SK17 8EN (Grid Ref: 114795 (please respect access and private parking for residents)
Terrain: 10+ gates, 2 stiles. Easy to follow paths, tracks and quiet lanes without pavement dominate this rural walk over high ground. Livestock grazing. Short section of verge walking beside the A623. Old mine workings.
Refreshments: Devonshire Arms, Peak Forest
Toilets: No public toilets
Map: O.S. Explorer OL24 – White Peak, O.S. Explorer OL1 – Dark Peak
Walk highlight: Stupendous views from Bradwell Moor
Description: This is the perfect walk for a crisp autumn day to enjoy big sky views. The route passes numerous old mine workings evidenced by lumpy bumpy earthworks and capped shafts. Once part of the Royal Forest of the Peak, this landscape is now an undulating patchwork of fields with occasional belts and pockets of woodland.
1. Walk up Church Lane to the small circular road island at Old Dam. This part of Peak Forest is the oldest with a mixture of farmsteads, houses and cottages dating from the 16th century onwards. There is reference to a dam here as far back as 1405 and a ‘great pond’ in 1440, at one time used to power a corn mill and as a sheepwash. Although the outline of these man-made structures can still be made out, all is now grassed over and utilised as pasture. Turn right to walk along Old Dam Lane.
2. Turn left down the drive to Oxlow End.
3. Go through a gate on the right to follow the bridleway through Oxlow Rake where the spoil heaps of former mine workings are camouflaged by a belt of mature trees. This area abounds with old mines, some of their names providing a reference to their nature such as Starvehouse, Hazard and Clear-the-Way mines. Away to your left was Portway Mine, its name referring to the prehistoric track through what is now Derbyshire that linked Bronze Age hillforts. A further gate will follow then a section of trackway.
4. Pass through a gate and walk through mainly open pasture keeping the wall to your left along a section of the Limestone Way toward its start at Castleton. Notice how Mam Tor emerges like a huge mound to the north, whilst the summit of Win Hill is a giant pimple almost directly ahead in the distance.
5, Arriving at a combination of ways do not go through the gate but turn sharp right to follow a footpath as indicated by a fingerpost sign. Passing through a succession of gates, this ascends to Bradwell Moor. From this elevated position there are far reaching views over a vast area of the National Park encompassing both White and Dark Peaks. The footpath will become a grassy path then a rough track.
6. Emerge onto Clement Lane, which follows in part the route of an almost straight Roman Road known as Batham Gate, laid between the forts of Navio near Brough and Aquae Arnemetiae (Buxton). Turn right and follow this quiet road and enjoy views over Tideswell Moor and to the mast on top of Tides Low where archaeologists discovered a bowl barrow probably dating from the Late Neolithic period.
7. Arriving at the A623, walk in front of Mount Pleasant Farm and then keep to the grass verge as far as a gate leading onto a fabulous walled grassy track. Look north-west to the left of Oxlow Rake for a view of Eldon Hole in the distance which appears like a gash on the side of a hill above a band of trees. Eldon Hole is listed as being one of the Seven Wonders of the Peak, but for a long time it was known as the Bottomless Pit as no one who dropped stones down could hear them reach the bottom. The entrance mouth is some ninety feet by forty feet and it was not until the reign of Elizabeth I that anyone dare venture down into the abyss. The Earl of Leicester then employed a local peasant to be dangled on the end of a rope on a voyage to the centre of the earth. Such was the shock to him that it is said he was rendered speechless, his hair turned grey and he died within days and before he could give an account of what he saw.
In 1780 a Mr Lloyd descended Eldon Hole and wrote a narrative of his adventures which was published in the ‘Philosophical Transactions’. He reported finding the bottom at a depth of 180 feet, however later explorations have discovered that it is in fact far deeper and reputedly Derbyshire’s largest and deepest pothole.
There are many stories appertaining to Eldon Hole, some debateable, some embellished. One refers to a goose belonging to a local woman that flew down into the hole when chased. It is said to have reappeared some time later out of Peak Cavern at Castleton with its wings singed. One fact that is probably true is that a local farmer berated the fact that two whole walls had totally disappeared during his lifetime down the hole, stone by stone, as a result of sightseers!
8. Arriving at a roadway turn left and walk down Old Dam Lane to end your walk. Peak Forest could be described as a village divided because it is neatly bisected by the main road. In 1657 it acquired its church dedicated to King Charles the Martyr, reputedly built on instruction of the Countess of Shrewsbury (formerly Elizabeth Cavendish) as a memorial to Sir Charles Cavendish, her son, who had lost his life at the hands of the Parliamentarians in 1643. The Countess, a Royalist, named the chapel King Charles The Martyr after the monarch. For many years it had ministers with the grand title ‘Principal Official and Judge in Spiritualities in the Peculiar Court of Peak Forest’ and was famed for marrying runaways, affectionately gaining it the title of ‘Gretna Green of the Peak District’.