Mable’s trip to Abney
Time taken 3 hours
Being a Peak District resident of Tideswell and a worker in Great Hucklow, with friends in Foolow, and also being an ex- resident of Eyam, Mable is very familiar with this walk having taken it on many a spring or autumn weekend afternoon. It is a walk that can be started in Great Hucklow, Foolow or at Bretton, by The Barrel, depending on your inclination and the difference is merely time – it’s always a great walk, from whatever starying point, with constantly changing scenery and pleasantly challenging underfoot.
If you start at The Barrel at Bretton, you will have parking, a great initial vantage point to oversee much of the length of the Hope Valley and also a great pub to return to for refreshments – a definite Win, Win, and Win!
Take a right at The Barrel, down a lane just below it which leads down over and off to Bretton Clough. Continue down the lane and then take a path just after the second property, off to the left. It first leads down a single file pathway which in summer can be a bit nettle filled, so take care. It widens and eventually leads onto a rivulet and “the lightening tree” at the bottom, which is full of doggy interest and I think quite striking - if you pardon the pun. The lane curves to the right through bottom fields and some, depending on time of year, filled with ferns or gorse making it a lovely remote but refined piece of Peak District countryside.
This part of the walk is great doggy country – few sheep, even fewer people generally and wide open spaces for roaming and wandering. Keep with the path as it takes you across and down the Clough, eventually bringing you, at the bottom, to a small stream and a “Pooh Bear Bridge” – great for a quick stop /picnic if you have time and the spot is not already inhabited - Mable and friends, plodging in the stream, do not lend themselves to sharing space with other visitors.
Continue over the little bridge, which I believe is called Stoke Ford, and through the gate following the path off to the left up, through woodlands, and then through the fields of Abney Clough ( I would say at this stage that it is worth keeping an eye open at the base of some of the trees, to the side, as I have never seen as many ant hills and ant communities as I saw here last year – each tree root possessed its own sandy soil mount, which was alive with the industrious little critters .
Walking up the hillside, it is gentle and in so being gives you a chance to look around at the foliage, which is normally abundant in spring and summer. The experience is no less enjoyable in autumn and winter, though can be quite muddy underfoot. What ever the season it is doggy heaven as in the main it is free from farm animals and it is safe. As you rise up Abney Clough the path opens out and you eventually emerge into the hamlet that is Abney; a farming community set back and on high from its nearest neighbours.
Once in the village take a left and enjoy some “pawdicure” along the narrow and general quiet road that leads out towards the gliding school, across on Abney Moor - it is possible to cut the roads corner if you wish, with a gate into the left hand fields, after Abney Grange. This short cut is a better option for dog walking as long as the farm animals are not in the field or close by. It takes you passed a derelict pumping house before you re-emerge on to the road leading off down to Follow and Great Hucklow.
Once back on this road, just follow it along and keeping left. It is worth pointing out that in late summer, as this road is banked with brambles, and if you have an empty lunch box or spare plastic carriers, you make use of the sweet Peak District blackberries and take some home - blackberry and apple pie (YUM!). Also, worth pointing out that as with the initial view from the Barrel, you do get some lovely views down valley to Foolow and beyond as you walk.
From here, it is just a case of following the road long, which leads back to Bretton, and if you remain vigilant you may be lucky enough to spot some interesting wildflife emerging from the undergrowth – Mable has been shocked by the odd pheasant, rabbit and badger on occasions, as well a smaller creatures like stoats and mice etc. I have also been lucky enough to spot the odd bird of prey in the skies above, as they have hovered over their potential prey.
At Bretton, and to make the walk complete, if you made the decision to start from this point, you have the option of popping into the pub for a swift half, coffee or snack, which, if you have the time, is well worth it – especially in winter when their fire is roaring – before the journey home.