This walk, of just under 7 miles, begins and ends in the Peak District village of Great Longstone. Great Longstone is located about a mile east of Monsal Head, gateway to one of Derbyshire’s best-loved tourist hot-spots, yet mysteriously manages to still be somewhat off the beaten-track. If you have time, do explore this pretty village as there is much to see in terms of historic buildings, notably the magnificent hall and the sturdy-looking parish church of St Giles, which dates back to the 13th century. The church’s pride-and-joy is its gothic woodwork from the latter half of the middle ages - the roof timbers with their moulded beams and bosses of flowers and foliage make it well-worth a look.
Our walk begins in the centre of the village by the ancient cross on the green. If you stand with your back to the cross, our route first takes you over the main road and slightly to the right, where you will see a sign saying “footpath to the church”, pointing you left up the path to the aforementioned St Giles. Once there, cross diagonally right through the churchyard where you will emerge on a quiet lane. Here turn left and go straight up onto a green lane a short distance further on. There are many walking and cycling routes from Great Longstone so it is easy to take a wrong turning; take heed, as you can easily be misled by what appears to be an obvious way. Here is the first instance of this; Instead of following the green lane, take the first path to the right which continues over a number of fields in a north-easterly direction towards the hamlet of Rowland. On the outskirts of Rowland you meet the one lane which serves the village and here you need to turn left. Again you will find a number of other tempting green lanes and paths, but stay on the tarmac until it peters out by the domed space-age-looking water pumping station, then keep on the same route which becomes a stony track and climbs gently towards Longstone Edge. As it levels out, you begin to wonder why this area is not teeming with visitors; the views to the south and east, over a wide expanse of rolling Peak District hills and moorland is balm for the soul and makes you realise what a great corner of England this is.
Don’t turn off this track until you reach a large wooden five-barred gate at Deep Rake. Here, you will discover “A Great Double Dyke”, English Heritage’s scheduled monument 31229 - an unexpected find, which marked the boundary between Ashford and Hope. Unfortunately, off-roaders have caused damage in the past, so large boulders have been placed at either end to protect it. When you reach the dyke, follow the track round to the left on what is known as Taylor Lane; yet more wonderful scenery is now in your sights as you look north and north-east to Froggat and Barrel Edges and the moorland above the Longshawe Estate. Stay on Taylor lane, keeping a band of ancient beech wood on your left until reaching the end of the line of trees at Bleaklow. At this point, you will approach a deep, disused quarry and various alternative tracks and paths to confuse you. Take the central route, which climbs on the right of the quarry, bending left in a north-westerly direction and turns into a broad, grassy track sloping gently downhill. At the end - a place called Black Harry Gate, so named after an 18th Century highwayman, go straight over the crossroad of paths onto a broad, former industrial road which climbs round Blakedon Hollow lagoon, made to deal with waste from fluorspar processing in the 1970’s.
There is little of interest other than the amusing warning signs here, but it is a quiet road and you are soon half way round, where you need to stay on the track, heading west and leaving the lake behind you, not to be fooled into taking the alternative way, a footpath over fields, as this will just take you in a big circle back round the lake. Very soon you will reach a minor road, which you must cross to take a footpath which then turns left over three fields before reaching the edge of Longstone Moor. The views are once more spectacular, this time to the south and west, completing the Peak District panorama of today’s walk. The peaty path through the rushes and heather is fairly obvious and you follow this for approximately a quarter of a mile until you meet another path cutting across this one. Turn right and head for two distant clumps of trees on the horizon, where there is a cairn and tumulus on a high vantage point of the moor. Passing below and to the left of the cairn, you soon reach the exit point from the moorland onto green pasture and as you descend, take the first path on the left, over a stile, which bends round a band of trees and continues on a grassy track to meet another stile.
Crossing the stile you will find yourself on stony Chirtpit Lane, where you turn left, heading downwards. Near its end, the track turns left and joins a minor lane which takes you back down into Great Longstone. You will pass the hall as you walk back towards the cross, and also The Cripsin Inn which has an extensive menu and a fine range of Robinson’s Ales. As an alternative watering hole, on the other side of the cross is The White Lion, another Robinson’s house which styles itself as a gastro pub, using local produce wherever possible. Either one will give you a hearty welcome after your exertions.
This walk was brought to you by Judy & Simon Corble