DISTANCE: Approximately 4 miles
Initially this walk is on an ancient packhorse route sheltered with high hedges and very old trees. The ascent towards Stanage Edge is gradual and easy going, resulting in the most breathtaking views towards a miniature mountain range which forms the north of the Peak District region and is known as The Dark Peak.
After following a road towards Bamford Edge you will descend back to the village on a track that is very steep – goodness knows how any form of transport managed to use it.
Bamford nestles on the hillside north of the River Derwent with the impressive Bamford Edge as its canopy, and is surrounded by spectacular countryside. Although a cotton mill was established here in 1780 making use of the river, its extensive growth over the last century has resulted more from the employment provided by the construction of the Ladybower Dam and the introduction of the railway in the valley bottom which opened up the Hope Valley and provided easier access for commuters to Sheffield and Manchester.
One of Bamford’s notable buildings is the Church of St. John the Baptist, designed by William Butterfield and built 1856-60. It has a slender steeple over 100 feet high which seems to spear the sky and vie to reach higher into the heavens than the surrounding peaks.
Start your walk at Ye Derwent Hotel and walk up to Bamford’s little village green. See the Fidlers Well and gritstone stile. Head up Fidlers Well Lane to the crossroads then turn right at the surgery along Joan Lane. Follow the road along and bear right after about 100 yards. This takes you past some of Bamford’s more select residences.
At a junction where Saltergate Lane heads uphill from Bamford Railway Station down near the river, go straight ahead along Hurstclough Lane with the golf course on your right.
You are now on an old packhorse route where ponies laden with panniers full of salt from Cheshire headed through Bamford and then across country toward Sheffield and towns further east. It is thought that this route was in fact used even earlier by the Romans who forded the Derwent then ascended Hurst Clough, passing the Gatehouse before climbing up to Stanage Edge and then heading eastwards on the Long Causeway to their fort at Templeborough in the Don Valley.
Up to your left are the well camouflaged filters which treat the waters of the Ladybower Reservoir before they continue down the Derwent Valley towards Nottingham, Leicester and Derby. Bear right where the road becomes private and follow the muddy track which shortly afterwards descends into Hurst Clough.
Follow the track which is flanked by high hedgerows made up of ancient bushes and trees whose exposed roots form a perfect habitat for birds and small mammals.
At a bend and junction of paths continue on the track around to the left. Down to your right are a cluster of old buildings and farmhouse which form Nether Hurst.
Continue along the lane until you emerge at Gatehouse where you meet Jaggers Lane from Hathersage at an area known as Outseats. If you glance behind you the ‘mountain range’ of Kinder and Bleaklow dominate the horizon to the north-west., whilst in the foreground are the easily distinguishable Win Hill, Losehill and Mam Tor together with the conspicuous Hope Cement works.
Turn left and walk along the road past the stone water troughs. Pass Outlane Farm on your right and continue around the hill. This gives you the opportunity to see over the wall on your right.to where nestling on a rise and sheltered by the surrounding hills stands the battlemented North Less Hall. It is thought that a medieval building occupied this site although the present Hall dates mainly from the late 16th century (set in the plasterwork in a ground floor room is the date 1594). It has three storeys above a basement and mullioned and transomed windows. At the back of the building is a possibly earlier tower, whilst to the side is a two-storey wing that was probably added at a later date. The Hall was restored in 1965 by Lt. Col. G G Haythornthwaite but later passed into the hands of the Peak National Park.
North Lees Hall was used by Charlotte Bronte as the setting for ‘Thornfield’ in the book ‘Jane Eyre’ – here was the fictitious home of Mr Rochester with his demented wife. Charlotte Bronte came to Hathersage in 1845 to stay with her friend Miss Nussey. She also used Hathersage as the village of ‘Morton’ in her novel.
To the north of the Hall are the ruins of a Roman Catholic chapel built by members of the Eyre family in 1686 who were at that time living at North Lees.
Follow the road around the hill then go through a black metal gate by the footpath sign on your left. Head up the grassy track towards a disused quarry but just before it take a path on your left which brings you back around Bolehill above Outlane Farm. At a junction of paths with a signpost, go straight on along the indicated path which takes you above the sparse wooded area having Hurst Clough rising up the hillside in front.
At the road, turn left and then follow this around towards Bamford Edge. After the dip on the bend the road will ascend to a corner then descend towards the valley with Win Hill rising to 1520 feet directly in front.
Just after High Lees Farm on your left take a track on your left which crosses the farm drive and descends between two small conifer plantations. Shortly afterwards it drops dramatically back to Bamford. Just follow the road straight down to return to the village and the end of your walk.