A lovely relaxing walk through rolling South Derbyshire countryside, starting from Melbourne’s medieval market place. Two of the county’s gems, Melbourne Hall and the Parish Church of St Michael’s, are passed in the early part of the walk.
But it is Melbourne Pool in its beautiful setting, with its abundance of wildlife that attracts most visitors. Originally a medieval mill pond it was enlarged in the 1840s. The old mill stands in a deep hollow, now a private house along Pool Road.
After leaving Melbourne behind, the walk passes through good farming country, partially wooded in places, which provides excellent cover for wildlife. The view of Breedon Church, just over the border in Leicestershire, standing in its high cliff top location, is very impressive. As is the glimpse of ‘The Birdcage’, a marvellous piece of wrought iron work by Robert Bakewell, which can be seen as you pass Melbourne Hall gardens near the end of the walk.
Length: 4.25 miles.
Start/finish: Castle Square Car Park off Potter Street.
Location: On the B587 just off the A514 Derby to Swadlincote road.
Terrain: A relatively flat walk, but can be muddy in places.
1. From Castle Square walk past the White Swan, down to the main road and carry straight on, going between Melbourne Hall and St Michael’s Church, through the gateway to Melbourne Pool.
2. Walk past the pool and follow the road as it bends to the left, and then in about 40 yards, go over a stile on the right straight across two fields, along a clearly defined path.
3. The route continues past Moat Wood until, just before reaching the corner of the field, descending six steps on the left to cross over a stile.
4. Continue in the same direction as before to cross a stile into a grassy lane, turning sharp left as you enter the next field.
5. Keeping close to the fence on your left, go over the stile in the bottom left hand corner of the field.
6. Follow the path over a footbridge and a stile and walk up the field keeping close to the hedge on your left to go over a stile slightly to your right into a wood.
7. For about 60 yards head slightly to the right up a steep and rather slippery slope to a stile out of the wood into a field.
8. Head straight across the field, soon Breedon Church comes into view on the skyline. On reaching the far side of the field, turn left and follow the track as it leads into the next field.
9. Now with the hedge on your left follow the track along, eventually slanting slightly to the left before joining the surfaced lane leading from Park Farm.
10. Continue down the lane past Breedon Priory Golf Club and within a few yards of reaching the main road at Wilson. Go through the gateway on your left, and aim up the field about 15 yards to the right of a line of trees. The stile at the top of the field is at approximately the midway point in the field boundary.
11. Go over the stile and walk down the field keeping close to the hedge. Go over two more stiles in quick succession.
12. On reaching a large open field turn right at an angle of 45 degrees and head for a stile into an area of woodland. (12b. Alternatively carry straight on down the road. After leaving the field, follow the road road to reach an intersection, cross over and walk up Castle Street back to the starting point of the walk.)
13. Bear left over two more stiles to a kissing gate into Blackwell Lane and go left along the pavement back to Melbourne.
14. Turn right into the road you used at the start of the walk to return to Castle Square.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Melbourne Hall and Gardens (Tel. 01332 862502) once the home of Victorian Prime Minister, William Lamb. For full opening details please ring or visit website.
Calke Abbey and Grounds (Tel. 01332 863822) ‘The place where time stood still,’ was the phrase used to describe this property when The National Trust opened it to the public in 1989. One of the most unusual of English country houses with large collections of birds, ornaments, paintings and photographs. For further information website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Foremark Reservoir a 230 acre reservoir provides footpaths, picnic facilities, sailing and good trout fishing. A recent addition is an area of woodland planted with 10,000 trees. Visitor Centre and children’s play area.
The Blue Bell Inn (Tel. 01332 865764) is owned by the Morgan family who brew their own beer at Shardlow. The walls are adorned by an interesting collection of old sporting pictures. Meals served at lunch times all week and in the evenings, Thursday Friday and Saturday. Seating outside.
Melbourne Hall Tea Rooms (Tel. 01332 864224) situated in what used to be the washrooms and bake house of the hall. One of the old baking ovens still remains in these delightful old tea rooms that have built up an enviable reputation for light meals and teas. Open from Easter Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays. Reduced winter opening.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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Set among pleasant rolling countryside in South Derbyshire is the fascinating little town of Melbourne. It has a wealth of historic buildings, a famous country house with formal gardens, one of the finest Norman churches in the country, a lovely 20 acre Pool where you can feed the ducks, or just rest awhile and admire the scenery.
A prominent landmark in the town is Melbourne Hall with its fine furniture and paintings. It is the birthplace of Lord Melbourne, Queen Victoria’s first Prime Minister, who gave his name to a small settlement on the River Yarra - Yarra, which is now Australia’s second city.
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