Dramatic scenery, castle remains and two counties in a day!
I’m Helen and I’ve been lucky enough to live in the Peak District for the last 35 years. I love walking, jogging and cycling – and what better place to be to enjoy those pursuits! I’m part of the marketing team at Experience Peak District and Derbyshire and this is my Insider’s Guide…
The Dove Valley is a popular and well-loved area of the Peak District and has long been a favourite of mine, from family strolls to the ‘Stepping Stones’ at Dovedale to circular walks dipping in and out of the valley passing the well-known beauty spots of Beresford Dale, Wolfscote Dale and Milldale.
However the walk that I’m going to share with you takes you north through the lesser known and quieter, but no less beautiful, Upper Dove Valley.
The walk starts in the popular village of Hartington. There is car parking around the village and there is also a pay and display car park; opposite this car park are the (all important before setting out on a walk) Public Conveniences. There is also a bus service that runs between Buxton and Ashbourne which serves Hartington.
There are pubs, tearooms and a couple of shops in the village, should you need to fuel up for the walk or refuel afterward. And if you’re a cheese lover don’t miss a visit to the cheese shop, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
So, setting off from the pretty and much-photographed pond in the centre of the village .
Head north along Dig Street for a short distance and on your right you will see a green public footpath sign, take this to join Hyde Lane.
Turn left and continue on this minor road until you reach a footpath sign on your left signposted to Pilsbury and Crowdecote…
Go up and over this stile and the onward route is straightforward crossing fields on the side of the valley with splendid views of the river Dove meandering on its way. Passing the remains of former mine workings you descend into a side valley to reach a junction of paths, follow the path for Pilsbury and Crowdecote to reach a road by some farm buildings.
Continue over the stile, across the road and through the gate…
… and carry on down the waymarked path where you will reach the remains of Pilsbury Castle.
Pilsbury Castle is one of the best examples of a motte and bailey castle in Derbyshire, only the earthworks are now visible and the castle’s history is a bit of a mystery, although it was probably built around 1100 by the Normans on the site of an Iron Age fort, there is a handy interpretation board that will tell you more:
This is a great photo opportunity with the impressive Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill in the distance …
Then, from the Castle head south along a farm track …
…to the road and continue down through the hamlet of Pilsbury.
Then, turn right to reach the footbridge over the River Dove- you are now crossing from Derbyshire into Staffordshire!
Follow the green lane for about 150 metres before crossing the first stile on your left. The path now climbs quite steeply diagonally across fields until you reach the road at the side of a property called High Close, make sure you take plenty of ‘breathers’ on this section to look back into the valley, the views are stunning. Turn left on the road and you will soon reach Harris Close Farm, turning into the drive.
You will see a stile on your right signposted to Hartington, follow the footpath (with the wall on your right) through several fields before descending along the edge of a small conifer plantation where the path descends back into the valley and joins a farm track passing by Bridge End Farm on the outskirts of Hartington.
The path now crosses fields and you will emerge by the now deserted dairy where Stilton Cheese was once made. Turn left along the lane and you are back in the centre of the village for a well- earned cup of tea and slice of cake! And perhaps a visit to the Cheese Shop?
The walk is about 6 miles in total and I think an official grading would be ‘moderate’. Take your time, fill your lungs with the fresh air and soak up the fantastic views, and beware you’ll probably be back as it’s likely to end up on your favourites list, like it did for me!
Remember to always take a map and compass with you whenever you walk in the Peak District- Although Helen has lived her all her life, she is not an accredited walking guide!