DARLEY DALE WALK
A delightful walk, which soon leaves the River Derwent behind to gently ascend the slopes of Oker Hill, where there are excellent views over the Derwent Valley. Much of the return journey is along a permissive path by the railway line, close to the river.
On Oker Hill (sometimes known as Oaker), there stands a solitary sycamore tree, which was featured in one of William Wordsworth’s sonnets. The story goes that when two local brothers left the village to seek their fortune they each planted a tree. One of the brothers never returned, so only one tree survives.
Dr Beeching closed the railway line from Matlock to Buxton, but thanks to the Peak Railway Society the section from Matlock to Rowsley South has been re-opened. It is now used for leisure purposes and is very popular with visitors and railway enthusiasts. A number of special event days are held every year.
Matlock Bridge started life as a packhorse-crossing to replace the ford. Dale Road was once considered one of the most elegant shopping streets in the East Midlands. To the rear are pleasant riverside walks and Hall Leys Park where excellent recreational facilities for young and old are available.
Length: 5 miles.
Start/Finish: Matlock Car Park by Railway and Bus Station (northbound).
Location: Off the A6, Belper to Matlock road, to the right of Matlock Railway Station Car Park.
Terrain: Mostly very easy going with nothing much by way of ascent or descent. Mainly along good paths and tracks through open countryside.
1. Take the riverside path from Matlock Bridge, which is virtually opposite the railway and new bus station (northbound) and close to the pay and display car park.
2. The path leads you along the banks of the River Derwent and under the by-pass and past Peak Railway Station, later passing the works of Permanite Asphalt Products Division.
3. After crossing a stile into a field the path soon divides; keep to the right close to the river.
4. Continue straight ahead to cross two further fields and then walk up an enclosed path, turning left at the top into Aston Lane.
5. Follow the lane, passing another lane coming in from the right, until 20 yards from its junction with Oker Road, then go over a stile on the right into a field.
6. Angle to the right towards the top corner of the steeply rising field and follow a clear path into a small area of woodland.
7. On emerging from the wood, turn right to pass between a derelict barn and a redundant gatepost. Follow the path round to the left past a route marker, along a discernible grass track.
8. Pass through a gap into the next field. Continue down another field and go through a gap in some thorn bushes.
9. Take the path to the right where the route divides at a stile. Follow the well trodden path as it starts to descend and goes through a gap into a second field.
10. Keep almost straight on across the third field; the stile is to be found a few yards to the right of some rushes.
11. Continue along an obvious path to reach an access road. Follow the road for about 100 yards before crossing a stile on the right and walking down the left hand side of a field.
12. Walk down the next field, passing close to the hedge where it juts out, to reach a stile in the bottom left hand corner.
13. Go left and after a few yards cross the bridge over the river. Just before reaching the Square and Compass pub, take the right hand path of two paths by Flatts Farm.
14. This path leads you along the right hand side of a wall, through two fields before turning left and heading diagonally across another field to a stile.
15. From this point follow the obvious route to gain access to the Peak Railway; do not cross the line, but walk to the right by the fence.
16. Continue along the permissive path by the line for approximately a mile. Then with the A6 about 50 yards away on the left and the river close by on the right, go through a wide metal gate, cross the track and pass through a wooden gate.
17. Walk up a short path, cross the A6 and turn right. After a few yards take the surfaced path leading uphill on the left; the finger post sign is to the rear of the bus shelter.
18. Keep on the path over the top of a cul-de- sac and then an estate road, turning right when you reach a road called Hurts Hollow and continue down Dimple Road.
19. On reaching the bottom of the road, turn left along the A6 and follow the road towards the centre of Matlock, going to the right over Matlock Bridge and across the River Derwent.
20. Once over the bridge turn right into the car park where the walk started.
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PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Peak Rail: (Tel. 01629 580381) preserved railway, operating steam trips from Matlock Riverside Station to Rowsley South throughout the year. Please ring for details. Holds a number of special event days.
Red House Stables and Working Carriage Museum (Tel. 01629 733583) holds one of the finest collections of original horse drawn vehicles and equipment in Britain. The collection includes one of the very few remaining Hansom Cabs, a stage Coach, Royal Mail Coach and many others. Open daily, 10am-5pm March to October. Reduced winter opening.
Caudwell’s Mill, (Tel. 01629 734374) powered by the River Wye is the only complete Victorian working roller flour mill in the United Kingdom. There are a number of craft shops as well as a well stocked gift shop, artist’s gallery and café. Open daily.
Square and Compass (Tel. 01629 733255) is an attractive 18th century pub, overlooking Darley Bridge, midway between Darley Dale and Wensley. Food served at lunchtime and in the evenings at the weekend, evenings only from 5.30pm during the week. Two separate beer gardens. Accommodation is available and campsite facilities are located opposite the pub. Walkers welcome.
Regent House Tea Rooms (Tel.01629 583660) on Dale Road, Matlock stock a selection of speciality teas and coffees and provide a good range of hot and cold meals in pleasant surroundings. Open seven days a week.
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DARLEY DALE FEATURE
Darley Dale lies in an attractive part of the Derwent Valley, on the edge of the Peak District between Matlock and Bakewell. The problem for most drivers along the A6 is that they see little of the beauty of the valley on their six mile long journey. Extensive ribbon building hides the view.
The route is lined by rather sombre gritstone buildings and can become very congested at weekends and in the summer.
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