This walk begins just off the A515 Buxton to Ashbourne road in a large lay-by at the end of Crosslow Lane at Alsop Moor. The route is slightly undulating and travels through some of the finest scenery the southern Peak District has to offer - especially if done in Autumn when the colours are at their finest.
Anyway, we begin by crossing the busy road - beware of the fast traffic, it really comes at a pace along this stretch and a slight bend either way makes it more hazardous - but once negotiated, you are instantly into calmer waters. There is a short footpath opposite the lay-by up onto the Tissington Trail - the thirteen mile-long cycle / walking route on the former railway track, which closed in 1967. Head south and you will soon find that the trail loops away from the road, the traffic noise becoming ever more distant. Although you won’t yet be aware of it, there is a valley deep down below on your right, Cold Eaton - which feeds into the upper part of Dovedale. After about ¾ of a mile, the sides plunge down steeply to the unseen waters of the Dove, enticing you to explore; however, look to your left as equally enticing views of rolling hills and gentler dales stretch as far as the eye can see, and it is to these beautiful parts of the Peak District that our explorations will take us today.
The trail continues, nearing the A515 once again, but this time safely crosses underneath it and soon after arrives at the former Alsop-en-le-Dale station; there is nothing left of it now, except a useful car park for anyone wishing to begin a hike or bike ride from here - perhaps it should be pointed out that any nice weekend of the year, the trail is extremely busy with cyclists, so anyone out with dogs might want to pick a quieter time to attempt this walk.
The next section is tree-lined and offers tantalising glimpses of the dale below the trail; eerie buzzard calls and the “prruck” of circling ravens lend atmosphere to the otherwise quiet world and the easy walking allows time to soak in the peacefulness of the surroundings. The odd relic of the railway is visible here and there and a row of old workers’ cottages peer down near Newton Grange, but it is otherwise hard to imagine how different it would have been fifty years ago.
There are various paths off the trail, but the one on this walk is at Crakelow Farm. You first pass under an access bridge to the farm, then turn left up the embankment to walk along it for a hundred yards back to the bridge. Here, there is a footpath on the right which leads into pasture land. The path descends diagonally to the right, then heads straight down to cross a stream in the valley bottom. It is quite a muddy descent at certain times of year and also boggy in the bottom, so pick your way carefully. Continuing straight up the other side, the route then bears right on a slight diagonal through more pasture before meeting a small gate leading onto a narrow, stony lane. After fifty yards or so, the lane turns left at a right-angle - you can either stay on this, or head off into the fields once more by taking a path on your right. This route stays on the lane, but both ways lead to the nearby village of Parwich. The lane descends quite steeply and can be very wet, but perhaps a welcome alternative to muddy fields! It emerges on a quiet road about ¾ mile from Parwich. Turn right here and head into the village. It is pleasant to walk on the road and admire the fine stone dwellings along the way, but there is also a footpath which runs alongside a stream, and this also takes you into the heart of the village - emerging at the pond and green. Whichever route you choose, you will no doubt gravitate towards The Sycamore inn - which not only serves real ale and food, but also doubles as the village shop in this thriving Peak District community. Behind the inn is the fine church of St Peter’s - mainly Victorian in structure, although parts date back to Norman times.
Our walk leaves the village the same way it entered, on the very peaceful Dam Lane. It is about a mile and a three-quarters to Alsop en le Dale and is a very gentle walk, slightly ascending by the side of the broad Alsop Dale. There are a few large houses and barn conversions-cum-holiday cottages en-route, but little else to see except the lovely views. On reaching Alsop, barely a hamlet, you will pass a large farm on the left then round a bend past another farm, a few cottages and then, tucked away behind trees on the left you will discover the delightful little church of St Michael and All Angels. It is Norman in origin and the lovely door arch dates from this period, although it was heavily restored in the 19th C. Inside is a plaque to a local resident who lived to a hundred and two; perhaps the rarefied air helped his longevity; although having said that, the steam trains that rattled along the trail above the village may have polluted it in his day and the now-peaceful graveyard may not have been once so…
As you leave the church yard, you may suddenly become aware of Alsop Hall, straight across the road. It is a magnificent building and not one you would expect in such a tiny place. It is late 16th C, former home of the Alsop family and in a minor way is reminiscent of Hardwick Hall.
Turning right out of the church yard, retrace your steps to Manor Farm, on your left. The path goes through the farmyard, keeping straight and then leads into the fields above, still on a straight line up the steep hillside. After the first field, as the ascent gets easier, it bears diagonally left and then continues on that line over the hill and onwards towards Crosslow Lane and Alport Moor Cottages which will now be in your line of sight. Crosslow Lane emerges at the lay-by where the walk began.
Judy & Simon Corble