Historic walk Around Belper, Milford And Blackbrook

A walk through the countryside around Belper means going fairly easy route, with a walk full of interest, both man-made and natural. It’s possible to see the heart of the Industrial Revolution in many of Belper’s building, if not the actual industries and the history still remains giving the place a very historic atmosphere. Once outside the town, there is open countryside and small villages which are just as pretty as lots that are offered in the Peak District National Park.

Starting off at the car park of Belper River Gardens of A6 Matlock Road on the north side of Belper, there is a walk which features tracks, lanes and field paths with a little road walking. This particular walk is about 7 miles long and will take around four hours, but there are lots of shops, take aways and pubs in Belper. Also, there are toilets in Belper.

If the car park is full there are lots of others in the town centre. A short distance away, but from the car park ,walk into the main road and go back to the traffic lights and turn right to follow the A517 until the bridge over the River Derwent is reached. The imposing buildings on the right are the remaining parts of Belper mill and the tall brick structure is the East Mill. The North Mill, the oldest part of the complex houses a heritage museum which is open most days. The stone bridge you pass under used to connect the two mills, the East and West, which stood on either side of the road where the modern factory is now set.

After taking a long, leisurely look at the wonderful weir, cross the road and locate the riverside path with green railings on the opposite bank to the factory buildings. Follow the path along the river and passed a small brick building where the path becomes a track between fields. Cross the stream and go through the stile into a field with a number of houses and continue straight ahead to walk through the field with the river on your left.

Follow the path through more flat riverside fields into an area called The Meadows, for obvious reasons. This is a beautifully quiet spot just a short distance from the town and a great spot for a picnic. Always keep the river on your left and you will notice the large town of Belper is built almost entirely on the eastern side of the river, when it might be expected to straddle the waterway like most other towns. This is because the area was owned, like the mills, by the Strutt family and they wanted to keep this part of Belper as farmland.

The footpath becomes sandwiched between the river and the high fence surrounding the sewage works. Keep to the pound and pass under the metal bridge and reach a minor road near some cottages. Turn left and walk along the road until the village of Milford is reached and just before the village you cross the railway line, with a good view of the dark Milford tunnel.

Walk through the village, near the school and just before the main A6, a road called Sunny Hill joins on the right. Go up the hill and the road levels turn into a track where there is an interesting stone tower to the right. No what really knows the history but it is generally thought to have something to do with surveying during the construction of the railway. Continue along this track for about a mile and a half, passing through the golf course and enjoy the extensive use all along the stretch. Because of its height, this is one of several high stone walls, which were used for target practice by local regiment in the first half of the century.

The track turns left, passes a house and emerges onto the road and turn right and follow this for 100 yards and crossed to the other side to follow a thing post which is marked for the Derwent Valley walk. Cross the tracks to go into the field and walk along the right-hand side to the top right corner and go over the stile. The gorge on your left is called the ‘depths of Lumb’ locally and is reputed to have been haunted by the whith called Padge Barber.

Eventually you emerge into a field cross a stile and then a gateway and turn right and follow the track to the road crossing Black Brook by the bridge -of course now you know you have entered the village called Black brook! Turn right and follow the road until Longwalls Lane is opposite, which climbs to reach a line of houses. Just after passing these, leave the lane by a stile to enter a field and walk-through diagonally left to find a stile in the middle to go into a second field. Walk in the same direction to locate another stile at the top of the field in the centre of a wall. It is marked by two standing stone set into the grounds and this field has a lovely array of wild flowers in summer.

Go through into another field keeping a line of gorse bushes on your right and leave this field by a stile in the side wall, going over several fields and descending until you find yourself on a minor road.

Cross Dally Lane and go through a stile at the end of the track. This path is initially paved with stone flags. Go through the stile in the wall under a line of trees and continue through three fields using a level path cut into the sloping hillside. There are some wonderful views just here and you may see a hare if you’re lucky. Carry on and you will come to a road called Shire Oaks and follow this to find yourself on the main A517 again. Turn left and walk on the pavement down the hill back to the River Bridge by the mills and from here the car is only a short distance, the end of the delightful walk in some countryside you probably never knew existed.