Alport, a satellite of Youlgrave, nestles ¾ mile downstream of its larger neighbour at the confluence of the Rivers’ Lathkill and Bradford. It is a sleepy little hamlet which sits quietly between the waters in one of the most picturesque, yet lesser-known beauty spots of the Peak District.
On the “B” road which passes through, you will find lay-bys either side of the road where you may park, and the walk begins where the Lathkill cascades down a series of small weirs before going under the road to meet the Bradford - the locals may correct you here; the river is known as The Dakin as it flows through the village. If you are arriving from Youlgrave, then the path which starts our walk is off to the left and is clearly sign-posted beside a wooden gate.
Initially the path is fenced on either side and leads you slightly away from the river, so, whilst you are aware of its presence, you are perhaps 50 yards from the banks. After passing a small wood on your right and going through a stile, you will find yourself in open fields which slope gently up to the left; on your right, waterside meadows full of wild rhubarb reach down to the Lathkill. On its opposite bank a high tor topped with larches hides the workings of a disused fluorspar mine, a reminder of the area’s industrial past. After a few fields, Raper Lodge appears on your left, just above a beautiful, stone arched bridge. Our route doesn’t cross the bridge, but wander along to its centre to view the river; the low walls almost allow you to feel you are wading in the water - although the fast flowing weir would deter anyone from trying. Moorhens swim in and out of the reeds, kingcups bloom in spring time, as do bluebells in the wood which adjoins the bridge.
Continuing on our way again, the path crosses a very minor road and then follows woodland and fields for a little over a quarter of a mile before reaching a proper minor road at Conksbury Bridge. Here, the wide reaches of the Lathkill are seen at their best - on one side, shallow and tranquil, whilst on the other, the waters loudly tumble down the cascade a little below the bridge, to babble more rapidly on their way to the distant Wye.
After crossing the bridge, the route climbs steeply up round hairpin bends on the quiet lane and leads you away from the river to an open plateau above, where panoramic views take over from the intimacy of the dale. At the top, you will see Over Haddon away to your left - by all means take a detour on the left hand path if you fancy a pint at The Lathkill Hotel - but our walk continues for half a mile until you reach a slight left-hand bend in the road. At this point, look into fields on your right and you will see a trig point. In the adjacent field, a gate leads onto an open track and this is our way back to Alport. The track is closed to mechanised vehicles, but you may encounter the odd mountain-biker. The views now look towards Youlgrave and the lovely, green plantations dotted over the rolling hills beyond the village; it is a beautiful scene.
After crossing two large meadows, you reach what at first appears to be a farm yard, but is in fact a collection of barns and outbuildings, there being no residence there. The track - which can be muddy - passes through and turns into a more defined lane, which, technically, is open to vehicles, although they can legally go no further than this point. Spring is the best time to wander down this quiet lane back into Alport; you will find the hedgerows awash with colour as red campion, forget-me-nots and Jack-by-the-hedge dance in the breeze on both sides.
It is only a short time before you arrive at the “B” road leading out of Alport. Across the road is a lane which takes you to the waterfront of the hamlet, as it wends round to Mill Bridge for a view of the old corn mill - and pond - dating back to the 18th century. At the side of the river are idyllic cottages with gardens sweeping down to the water’s edge and the main street is a collection of attractive, former lead-miners cottages. At the other end is the oddly shaped Monk’s Hall, the oldest building in the settlement, and once you have reached this point, you are almost back to where we started, hopefully invigorated by this short, but incredibly pretty Peak District walk.
Judy & Simon Corble