Mable meanders from Grindleford to Hathersage
Time taken - 3 hours
This walk, from Grindleford out to Hathersage and back, in its various forms, has been a long time summer favourite for Mable, in her menu of Peak District walks, as half of it is taken alongside her favourite natural element – water! The River Derwent runs through Grindleford on the north edge of the Peak District, and as it is mostly shallow and slow running, has been a great play pool for her on hot days, high days and holidays. Many walk has been left incomplete in summer weather as she has decided to move no further than the first field and to stay in the water.
Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself as I haven’t explained properly where we are. We normally start the walk at a small gate almost opposite the front of Grindleford’s church, just over the bridge from Grindleford Pavilion.
On entering you will find yourself walking through a succession of sheep meadows, although quite often the sheep have taken themselves off to higher ground making it ideal for some off lead walking - which is Mable’s favourite, unsurprisingly. She is a pretty well behaved hound in her later years, but I do not trust her with sheep as a glint in her eye, when they are around tells me, she is still capable of a chase, which cannot be tolerated. I would say that these days, a chase would be short and ineffective, but that is not the point is it? Sheep have the right to going uninterrupted by our visits to their territory
In walking the meadow section at whatever time of year, whether muddy or hard underfoot, you can glory in the trees that line the river. The banks of trees off to the left up Sir William Hill and towards Leam Lane, alternate in depth and colour throughout the year. You can also look off to the right and take in the grassy banks up to Grindleford station and train line that leads through to Hathersage. On summer weekends in the early part of the walk you can hear the noises from the Pavilion playing fields as cricket is played in the village - in winter, football. It is what I would describe as a “charming” section and one that provides Mable with endless fun as she takes herself in and out of the river, chasing sticks and stones.
Having walked through the three meadows, alongside the river you eventually get to a small wooden gate that takes you to the next part of the walk – as different as chalk is to cheese – into a wooded section, which more often than not is damp and muddy underfoot, so come prepared. This part doesn’t lend itself to Mable’s water antics but she always manages to find plenty of interest in the undergrowth and ground cover of ferns and wild garlic. Walking along the well worn path which is occasionally adorned with embedded rocks or travelling tree roots, it is worth watching out for the ants underfoot – I never like to squash them, but they can be in abundance around their hidden nests. Also watch out for the bare Bear tree, stripped of its bark way above head height. I am not sure what has caused it to be stripped but I always think it was caused by a bear!!! Yes, I know, not possible. But this walk does allow your imagination to wander!
Half way into the woods there is a walk off to the right, uphill, which will take you passed Padley Chapel and will take you passed a great cafe at the railway station, before bringing you back into the village, but that is for another day. Continuing on through the woods, with its accompanying babbling river and rivulets occasionally across the path, it eventually widens out to reveal more sheep meadows which are accessed via a kissing gate. This is the stretch that takes you on into Hathersage, is flat underfoot, and again is a good stretch for thinking (or chatting) as you do not need to worry where you are placing your feet.
Walking passed the lovely house that is Harper Lees, you get to another gate that takes you onto a long driveway – this is normally a gate that Mable and I fall out as she quite often has walked the fields with a large stick or half a tree in her mouth. We rarely make it through the gate without an argument - always pretty one sided and rarely satisfying for either party, as Mable is made to leave her stick and I end up with filthy hands from the grizzly, chewed, wooden ex-toy. Hey- Ho! but the walk must continue over cattle grids towards the Hathersage Road, coming out just before entry to Hathersage and just before David Mellors who manufacture fine cutlery on site, but who also have a shop and stylish cafe.
Next you turn right at the road and walk over Hathersage Bridge, away from the village. Hathersage is busy village with shops, cafe and pubs and is worth a visit, but is not to be entered on this walk. Instead we head off over the bridge to a road opposite The Plough Inn. It is an uphill lane, is very narrow and seldom do you meet traffic on it, although as the hedges are high it is worth keeping alert for any cars or farm vehicles that can sneak up on you. I find it is also worth keeping to a steady pace as it continues uphill for quite a time and wends its way passed fine horses in their fields and stables and passed a lovely house on the left with its iron work and leaded windows.
Just above the house, you have an option, you can continue on the road, which continues to wind uphill, or you can be brave and climb over the stile in front of you and hike uphill via the field – it is shorter, but it is steeper and allows you do feel sanctimonious when you get to the top – a good bums and thighs work out when you come out at Leam Lane!
The return back to Grindleford in pure “pawdicure” as it is road all the way. It is far from boring, however, especially along Leam Lane, which becomes wooded off to the left and shows hilly moorland off to the right. In autumn, the overhang from the trees and the low light provides a glorious gold and bronze display of seasonal beauty with fallen leaves and those still aloft surrounding a walker with gilded glory. In spring, the fresh lime green of newly burst forth leaves, along with the strengthening light, create an almost blinding fluorescence which never ceases to amaze me.
Turning downhill at the top of Leam Lane, Sir William Hill brings you back to the Hathersage Road, to the Sir William Pub, opposite, and Grindleford Primary School to the right. Cross the road with care and if needed, you can make use of The Sir William’s hospitality for food and drink before continuing down the lane, accessed at the bottom of its car park which will bring you down to Grindleford Pavillion, back to Grindleford Bridge and full circle to your initial start.
At this stage, I have known Mable want to go back through that small gate opposite the church, to start it all again. Nowadays, she is happy enough to be lifted into the car for her journey back to Tideswell for a “strenuous” nap to dream the dreams of the righteous and of more adventure, sticks and stones to be found in the Peak District National Parks profusion of alternate walks!