Early on an August morn I climbed up from the beautiful town of Bakewell on my final leg of the Peak Pilgrimage. The steepness of the route for the first few miles surprised me and challenged me a little. On reaching the golf course (a difficult one to play, I imagine) I was somewhat confused which way to turn but a groundsman pointed me in the direction of the wood through part of the Haddon Estate.
The route continued steeply through the wood. It was difficult to pick out an exact path and I just followed the general upwards direction balancing across rocks and stones until I emerged into a field full of grazing sheep.
As the early morning mist began to clear and the heat of the sun filtered through and cast a gentle pale yellow glow on the landscape I crossed over pasture land and through another wood until I climbed over a stile. The guidebook states the view which awaited me to be “one of the fairest views in all of England”. Who am I to argue? Before me was Capability Brown landscaped parkland backed by the wilder vista (which I much prefer!) of Curbar and Froggat edges and views across open moorland towards Sheffield and Chesterfield. Nestled down in the manicured landscape sat Chatsworth with queues of cars backed up along its approaches waiting to park for their visit. Oh, how lucky to be me on my own, up on the hills, looking peacefully on.
Time for a sit down and some of my Bakewell pudding!
It was a fair walk down the hill and into the pretty estate village of Edensor. I followed the Church spire and passed the tea rooms before climbing up and following the path into the church and its graveyard.
A grand church and a churchyard full of graves of “notables” – this is the place of worship of the Dukes of Devonshire as well as the village and there were memorials to the Cavendish family; the grave of Joseph Paxton (designer of the Crystal Palace), one of the Mitford sisters and the sister of John F Kennedy.
Looking closely at the memorial to Joseph Paxton I was surprised to see that he was born just a short hop away from Harlington, the Bedfordshire village in which I live – Milton Bryan!
I forsook the lure of the tea room as the weather was warming up and I knew that I had another six miles ahead of me. A long walk through the grounds of Chatsworth and through the Cannon Kissing Gates followed.
Eventually I skirted the village of Baslow and after visiting the Church I returned down to the world of the river – this time the Derwent.
Away from the Chatsworth parkland I found myself alone again wandering alongside the river.
I had to make a decision here whether to take the higher and longer route along the Curbar and Froggat Edges or whether to stay down in the river valley. Whilst the heat was becoming oppressive the skies were darkening and I could feel a storm in the air – I decided to stick with the valley route. As I reached Curbar I was beginning to flag a little and worried about the weather so I decided that it was time for a break. I stopped for a while in the charming tea rooms in Curbar whilst the storm blew over.
After collecting my next stamp in the Church of All Saints I resumed my walk along the river bank.
The storm stayed away but the weather was a little dark and dreary as I ambled along. I was, however, in good spirits, tired but connected to nature; footsore but full of joy.
Continuing along the river bank the closer I got to Stoney Middleton the more walkers I began to pass. Conversations gave way to hellos and nods and eventually to lack of eye contact – strange how that happens.
Once in Stoney Middleton I reached the octagonal St Martins Church .
I stopped here and rested a while – and they upwards again!………..
A long and steep final climb into Eyam.
At the top of the slope I reached the boundary stone. I was so pleased that I reached the village this way – it really bought home to me how secluded the village was and it was very moving to still see the holes in the stone in which people would leave money soaked in vinegar during the plague. An interpretation board told a tragic love story and out alone in the field I felt a connection with the history of the place. Stones were put in various boundary places around the village where people would pass no further in or out to stop the spread of the plague.
I learned a lot more about the history of the village when I reached the village and church and have written about that in a separate post.
I took the last mile into the village slowly and proceeded straight to St Lawrence’s Church Eyam – my destination!
Here a very knowledgeable lady called Jacqueline told me some more about the village and Church. I hoped for “the momento” the guidebook described, but it seemed a tad childish to make a fuss! And before long, I was ready for a rest – but before that another very, very long climb up to my Youth Hostel.
Bakewell to Eyam : (shorter valley route) – 10 miles (hillier than expected)