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Walks In Ashford

/images/walking.jpg Here is a wonderful walk which starts at the beautiful village of Ashford in the Water and visits the Magpie Mine, high on the limestone plateau near Sheldon, a fine reminder of the once great lead mining industry in the White Peak and one reputed to be haunted. A classic six mile White Peak walk which combines stunning scenery, history and a stretch of the legs all in one!

The walk begins in the village of Ashford in the Water, at the most photographed bridge in the Peak District. The 17th sheep wash bridge draws in visitors from miles around to take it's picture is a well known landmark which probably occupies the original ford in the valley of ash trees. Sometimes it is still used for displays of how sheep were washed before the chemical dips that are used today.

From the village centre, cross the river by the bridge and carefully cross the very busy A6.  Turn right and reach the minor road called Kirk Dale on the left and at the first bend, take the path which leads off to the right alongside the river. You will eventually reach the old bobbing mills beneath great Shacklow wood. The partly restored bobbing mills at Ashford were powered by the twin rusting iron waterwheels which can still be visible. Bobbins were made from the local Ash wood specifically for the cotton mills at places like Cressbrook and Litton.

The path will follow the old mill race by the river and eventually you will reach the entrance on the left, to the impressive crater like depression of Magpie Sough. This is the Derbyshire word for a tunnel built to drain a lead mine. The mile long Magpie sough was built to drain the famous lead mine which you will see later on in the walk.

The path leaves the river and climbs steadily up through the mixed trees of Great Shacklow Wood before it descends down into open country again to reach the junction with Deep Dale, coming down from the left by the side of a prominent limestone crag. Signs of an ancient settlement and a prehistoric rock shelter have been investigated there and it's good to take a breather.

The next mile is an easy one and a gradual climb up the Valley of Deep Dale, one of two which would run into the River Wye. Where the Dale opens out, you will enter a bridleway with walls either side and turn left, then left again by a style, to climb steeply up to the horizon. Bear left and follow the wall, passing through several gates and eventually reaching a minor road just short of Sheldon. Turn left to enter the village.

Sheldon is typical White Peak plateau village with limestone cottages standing back from the village green and the simple parish church of St Michael and All Angels. Sheldon was once a mining community and Magpie Mine was the main source of employment for many years. Here take the squeezer stile on the left by the last house, and head through a series of styles towards the buildings of Magpie Mine on the skyline. The mine is famously the site of violence in 1833, when three miners were suffocated by sulphurous fires, deliberately set underground by opposing miners.
 
It is said their ghosts walk there today, but in the quiet and evocative spot on a summers day, it's a beautifully peaceful place with some of the best displays of wildflowers such as leadwort, sandwort nd a mountain pansy.

Walk back to Sheldon by one of the many field paths and turn right down the village street to Lower Farm on the left. Take the stile on the left, just past the farm and go back down to Little Shacklow Wood. Bear right at a fork and take the high path above the wood, dropping gently down into the Wye Valley again, with lovely views of Ashford ahead. The path finally zigzags down to the riverbank near the entrance to Kirk Dale. Rejoin the outward path back into Ashford across the A6.

Start at: Monsal Head Grid ref: SK185 715 Difficulty: Medium Distance: 9 km From the car park in front of the Monsal Head Hotel go to the top of the hill and go through the highest stile to gain a signposted footpath to “Monsal Dale”.  Follow the footpath downhill to a footbridge, passing a weir on the way, and bear left alongside the river. Follow this riverside path to the end of the valley where a signpost to “White Lodge” provides the way ahead. Cross a stile and a road to emerge in the car...
Monsal Head – Sheldon – Ashford in the Water – Monsal Head
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