DISTANCE: Approximately 3 miles
After exploring the pretty village of Elton which is situated where limestone and gritstone meet at 900 feet above sea level, the walk follows paths and a quiet lane to the popular Cratcliffe Rocks and Robin Hood’s Stride known locally as ‘Mock Beggars Hall’. After passing other ancient remains the walk crosses fields and stiles to return to Elton on a quiet country lane
1. Start the walk in the centre of Elton which is a sprawled out village, making your way to the church which is located opposite the Duke of York. All Saints was rebuilt in 1812, the original church having caved in when the steeple fell in 1805 after local lead-mining seriously weakened the foundations. One of the bells in the peal is recorded as being pre-reformation and inscribed ‘Jesus be our Spede’. Inside the church there is an unusual font which has a small side stoop. However this is but a copy, the original was cast out when the church was rebuilt and found its way to Youlgreave. When the Elton parishioners asked for it back, realising their great mistake, Youlgreave refused! Thankfully the late Mr Thornhill of Stanton Hall provided funds for the copy to be made.
2. Follow the footpath between the Church and the small school built in 1862 and notice the gravestones, some of which are very old, their wording being hard to read at times as the letter s was commonly written using the old form which looks like an f, and gives a whole new meaning to words such as ‘soul’!
3. Cross a small lane and head straight on. Ignore the sign pointing down the valley and continue instead around the left-hand side of the village playing field before gently descending and crossing a stile onto Dudwood Lane. Turn left and walk down to its junction with the B5056. An ancient route known as The Portway, which ran from the Derby area up towards the Hope Valley, passed behind the Miners Standard at Winster and is thought to have followed this route to Alport before ascending Dark Lane and then passing over Haddon fields towards Bakewell.
4. Down by the junction with the main road to your right you head up a drive opposite, taking you on a track to Cratcliffe Rocks, at the foot of which is a medieval cave carved out by a hermit that contains a crucifix, stone seat and a niche for a candle. Access to this has to be gained by entering the small wood near the top of the track and walking to the right, not by following the wall side by the cottage.
5. Pass to the right of Robin Hood’s Stride, the great towers of which are named ‘inaccessible’ and ‘weasel’ and stand some 22 yards apart. From the top of the rise glance to the north at the stone circle which is like a miniature Stone Henge. Now cross stiles and a field to the road. Notice the wonderful views and see the distant Stanton Hall standing impressively on the side of the hill. Turn down the drive of Harthill Moor Farm and around the side to the left. Follow the path to the bottom of the hill. The paths and stiles are very well defined and easy to follow as they are well signposted and often walked.
6. At the bottom of the hill turn left and cross fields and stiles to the side of Tomlinson’s Wood, passing over the drive to Cliff Farm at one point, eventually arriving at a stile onto Cliff Lane.
7. Follow Cliff Lane which is a quiet little road, passing a disused quarry with spoil heaps of large gritstone blocks. See Gratton Dale over to your right which is etched into the hillside. Also, in the bottom of the valley is the almost square shaped building which was a former cheese factory.
8. Over to the left is a field that at one time was used in winter as the Elton Ski Run. Organised by a local club it operated a generator-run winch to pull skiers back up. Follow the lane back to Elton, turning left at the top of the hill to walk back up the village to the church.