This walk provides splendid scenery and regular reminders of the terrible hardships endured by the people of Eyam during the plague.
Having walked down the main street passed the plague cottages, the Lydgate Graves are soon encountered. On reaching open moorland with good views of Stoney Middleton and the surrounding countryside is the Boundary Stone, where neighbouring villagers left supplies during the plague.
Leaving Stoney Middleton behind the path soon rises, steeply at times, through fields and woods.
As the path begins to descend the Riley Graves are passed. Enclosed by a protective stone wall in the middle of a field, seven members of the Hancock family are buried. All of them died within a week of one another and were buried by the mother, the sole survivor.
When it seems your walk is nearly finished on the outskirts of Eyam a path leads up through the woods to Mompesson’s well. Here provisions were left by neighbours in return for coins soaked in vinegar in a pool at the edge of the well.
The return journey takes you through Eyam Churchyard by the grave of Catherine Mompesson, the wife of the rector, the 220th victim of the plague.
Length: 4.5 miles.
Start/Finish: Eyam Car Park, on the western side of the village opposite the museum.
Location: Off A623 Chesterfield to Chapel-en-le-Frith road.
Terrain: Steep in places, but nothing too strenuous. Can be muddy in places.
1. Leave the car park and walk down the hill turning left at the junction to walk through the centre of the village.
2. On reaching The Square keep to the right of Eyam Tea Rooms and walk up Lydgate, going by the Lydgate graves and carry straight on along the lane.
3. At a triangle of grass do not go down the lane on your left, but take the sign directly in front of you for ‘Stoney Middleton – Boundary Stone’.
4. Follow the well-signed track straight ahead and on reaching a large moorland field continue in the same direction passing the boundary stone just before a strand of trees.
5. Soon the path begins to drop steadily to a stile onto a road where you turn right to follow the road round into Stoney Middleton before turning left up another road named ‘The Fold’.
6. At the end of the road go through a gate by a footpath sign and continue close to the wall as it bends to the left. In the next field keep close to the fence on the right and walk straight up the field to a gate.
7. Go half left across the next field to a stile and then continue uphill close to the wall on your right. At the top of the field turn right along an obvious path leading into an area of woodland that can be somewhat overgrown in places.
8. Continue along the path through the wood and near the top of the slope, turn sharp left by the yellow indicators.
9. The path then climbs steeply to join a wall on the right. Here you walk to the left keeping a sharp lookout for some steps in the wall leading onto a road.
10. Turn right along the road and when a left hand bend is reached go through a stile on the opposite side of the road and walk up the field with the wall on your right. At the top of the field go through a gate onto a rough track that soon swings to the left through a wood.
11. Go left at a ‘T’ junction of tracks. A long farm lane is soon joined, passing the Riley Graves on the right, as it descends steadily to join a minor road on the outskirts of Eyam.
12. Turn right towards the village and within 250 yards turn right again up ‘Riley Back Lane’ and where the lane ends continue up a track with a wall on your left.
13. After about 100 yards take the right fork and follow the broad track up through the trees eventually swinging to the left to reach the road.
14. Turn right and walk up the road for about 200 yards to Mompesson’s Well which can be seen on the left.
15. Retrace your steps down the hill and continue along the road as it bends to the right and straightens out. After a short distance go through a stile gate on the left and walk straight down the field to a stile in the bottom right hand corner.
16. Continue down the next field keeping the wall on your left to join an enclosed path leading into Eyam Churchyard, on reaching the road turn right, and walk back to the starting point.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Eyam Hall (Tel. 01433 631976) a fascinating 17th century manor house that has been the home of the Wright family for over 300 years. For further information website: www.eyamhall.com
Eyam Hall Craft Centre (Tel. 01433 631976) a working craft centre situated in the old farm buildings to the hall. Restaurant and gift shop. Open every day 10.30-4.30pm except Mondays.
Eyam Museum (Tel. 01433 631371) tells the dramatic story of the bubonic plague outbreak that so decimated the inhabitants of the village in 1665/6. Local geology, archaeology and social and industrial development are all covered in this excellent little museum. For further information website: www.eyam.org.uk
The Miners Arms (Tel. 01433 630853) a lovely 17th century pub with a cosy public bar, beamed ceilings and stone fireplace. Said to have several ghosts, and was once the meeting place of the Barmote Court where lead mining disputes were settled. Restaurant and outside seating. Accommodation. Open everyday for bar meals during the summer, please check for winter arrangements.
Eyam Tea Rooms (Tel. 01433 630725) popular with visitors for many years and following a short period of closure has now re-opened. Deceptively spacious inside and with additional seating outside. Take away meals can be provided. Alcohol served on the premises. Accommodation available. Open every day in high season 9.30-5pm. At other times opening may vary.
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Any tourist visiting the beautiful village of Eyam for the first time, not knowing of its tragic history, rapidly becomes aware by reading the plaques on the walls of buildings. The people of this village once endured an epic struggle. In a period of only just over 12 months, from September 1665, 260 people died from the plague out of a population of about 800.
The plague started when George Vicars, a tailor, was lodging in one of the cottages next to the church. A packet of cloth arrived, but as it was damp after its long journey from London, he spread it out in front of the fire to dry. This released fleas concealed in the parcel, which were carriers of bubonic plague germs.
Some families fled, but as the disease seemed to be abating during the winter others remained, only for the plague to intensify during the following spring. The Rector of Eyam, William Mompesson and his predecessor Rev Thomas Stanley persuaded the villagers to accept strict quarantine arrangements to prevent the spread of the disease.
When the plague finally was over, whole families had been wiped out and only one sixth of the population remained in Eyam. The plague had been contained within the agreed boundary set by the people of Eyam, but at a dreadful cost.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.