A Walk Discovering Watering Holes – Monyash to Taddington.

7.75 miles, mostly easy, but with many stone stiles to climb.

This walk takes you from Monyash to Taddington and back, discovering “watering holes”, in every sense of the phrase, through some magnificent limestone scenery.

Starting out from the Bull’s Head, (on the green in Monyash) turn right out of the pub and then right onto Chapel Street, past the Methodist Chapel.  You will pass by some very old and historic houses along here, including one of the earliest surviving Quaker meeting houses  (though you will need to be a bit of a detective to spot this small, barn-like building on the opposite side of the road, as there is nothing to announce its significance – look for the long rectangular window on the South side.) John Gratton (1640-1711), one of the founders of the Quaker movement, lived in Monyash between 1668 and 1702 and set out from the village on his missionary tours throughout the land.  The meeting house was erected not long after his death, in 1717.  Besides the large window there are two smaller ones, all glazed with square leaded panes.

Chapel Street then dips suddenly down to end at a junction with Horse Lane, at the top of Bagshaw Dale, (which is in effect the uppermost part of Lathkill).  A stile on the opposite side of Horse Lane takes you onto a footpath in a small field, heading uphill by a wood.  Continue on this path, over roughly half a dozen more stiles, passing below a large dairy farm.  Not long past the farm, the path turns sharply right, over yet another dry stone wall, and heads across the middle of a field, (you are aiming to just clip the corner of the woodland ahead of you).  Past the wood, you might take a slight detour to the right to look at a fine example of a preserved dew pond, brimming with wildlife.  Back on the course in which you were heading, the path becomes a pleasant stone-walled track.  Fields either side are littered with strange mounds and depressions – evidence of former quarrying and mining.  The ground over which you are passing has the baffling name of “High Low” – “low” of course being an Old English word for “hill”, though it is really not much more than a slightly higher area of the Limestone Plateau.

The track eventually meets with a minor metalled road; cross over this, to where the way continues, downhill, now under the name of Wheal Lane.  To your right, Deep Dale pulls away sharply – a fine dale for another exploration, but for now, keep left on Wheal Lane.

images/church-at-taddington-039.jpg“Wheal” suggests Cornish tin mining, to anyone familiar with the Poldark novels and certainly, the land is pock-marked with old mine shafts, while just along the road at Magpie Mine, is the ruin of something that looks straight out of that county.  Many lead miners from this part of Derbyshire went to work in Cornwall and brought back Cornish words and expertise with them.

Wheal Lane climbs up to Wheal Farm and then crests the hill down towards the village of Taddington.  About a third of a mile past the farm, you might like to take a left-hand fork, which climbs the hill slightly, before curling down the gradient, to meet up with Wheal Lane, once more, at the start of the village.  (If you do take this route, don’t miss the sharp right-hand bend downwards – it is easy to be lead all the way up the hill to a dead-end at a gate into a field).  Whichever fork you take, you can’t fail to notice the very narrow fields, which are a remnant of the Medieval system of allotting a strip of land to each household to farm for a year.

Taddington is a really pretty village, so typical of this part of The Peak.  The Queen’s Arms on the main street is a perfect resting and fuelling point, midway on this walk – plenty of home-cooked food and fine local ales; they also run a small shop in the pool room and it is generally open all day.

Coming out of the pub, head over the road, slightly to your right, and up the green lane, past a camping barn.  At the top of this lane, at a junction with a path that skirts the south of the village, is a gate into a field – land given to the village for recreational purposes, at the end of the first world war.  Go past some rather decrepit slides and swings and follow the path as it curves to the right.  Here you will find a wonderful old village well/spring, called “High Well” that must have been one of the villagers’ main sources of water for hundreds of years.  Continuing on, you will meet the quiet Monyash road.  Turn left along this a short way uphill, to discover images/taddington-high-mere2.jpgTaddington High Mere.  An idyllic spot, now beautifully restored and once an important watering place for drovers and travelling packhorse trains. In summer, dragonflies dart about among the bullrushes and kingcups, hawking for flies.

Now, retrace your steps a short way, back to the road junction, to find a footpath pointing you diagonally across a field, on the other side of the road.  This will take you over a series of stiles and stone walls, past the farm buildings of Rockfield House, to meet Flagg Lane.  Turn right up this a short way and then cross the road to another footpath, leading you on a straight course, down into the centre of Flagg village.  Straight the official path maybe, but at Flagg Hall Farm there is a sign-posted diversion around a very mucky farmyard, which you would be advised to take.

Emerging into the very centre of tiny Flagg, at the crossroads, continue on the road, in more or less the same direction, down the side of Flagg Nursery School (which shares a building with the Methodist Chapel) and past the village hall.

Flagg used to have a pub, sadly no longer with us, but if you want a cup of tea and some homemade cake, then the road past the front of the school / chapel, called Main Road, will lead you up to Flagg Tea Rooms, about two hundred yards on your right.)

/images/frere-mere-monyash.jpgBack on our official course, having gone past the village hall, Mycock Lane, as it is called, bends very sharply to the left.  The pavement runs out, but it is a quiet enough road, with some pretty wild flowers in its verges in spring and early summer.  You are now on a long distance footpath called “The Limestone Way”, and as such it is well marked and well trodden.  The Way leaves the road at the next bend to continue in the same direction down an asphalt farm track towards Knotlow Farm and Flagg Indoor Riding School.  Just before you reach the farm bulidings, the path forks off onto a wide grass verge and then through two fields to join an ancient track between stone walls, shaded by young ash trees.  This track arrives at a large and very old stone barn, where five ways meet.  Continue on the Limestone Way, passing across the front face of the barn and down the hill towards Monyash

Not far past some more farm buildings, you will detect a footpath across green pastures to your left, through a stone squeeze-stile.  This is a delightful short-cut off the hurly-burly of The Limestone Way, so take it.  It is a well walked route at all times of the year, so should be easy to pick out, passing as it does through small fields, over and through ancient stone stiles of great variety.  The last section of this path looks like it will terminate in the back garden of a terrace of cottages, but don’t be alarmed, as, on reaching the end of the terrace, the path takes you over a wall and down the side of the last house.  Either walk down past the front of the terrace, or a stile opposite will also bring you back to Chapel Street, at the car park that was once Jack Mere – a small information board there will tell you all you need to know.  See also the article on this website “Dewponds and High Meres”, for more information on the “watering holes” described in this walk – including the one remaining mere in Monaysh village, Frere Mere, which is a short walk down Chapel Street and over the cross roads, past the school.  A very picturesque spot indeed.

images/village-pump-at-monyash.jpgIf you are very observant, you will notice that the red telephone box on Chapel Street stands within the walled enclosure of the old village pump.  It is tempting to wonder whether this “watering hole” synonymous with gossip, was seen as the natural place to site a telephone box, when that medium of verbal communication arrived in the village.

The Bull’s Head in Monyash back on the green is an excellent place to end this watery adventure, open for lunch until three and in the evenings from six – but normally all day at weekends and at very busy times of the year.