Much of this delightful walk is along the banks of the Lathkill and Bradford; both of these rivers flowing entirely through limestone country are famous for the purity of their water.
After leaving Middleton and walking along Bradford Dale for a stretch, the walk soon takes you into the pretty village of Youlgreave. Leaving the village behind, you are quickly back into open countryside.
Your route leads you across Meadow Place Grange farmyard, which can be very muddy. The original grange farm belonged to Leicester Abbey from the 12th century until the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century.
Soon after leaving the farm, Lathkill Dale is reached. It is well known for its aquatic life. Trout may be seen in the river and the bank sides teem with wildlife.
Before the bridge was built at Alport, where the Lathkill and Bradford meet, the old Portway, an ancient trackway, forded the river on its journey from Castle Ring to the Iron Age hill fort on Mam Tor near Castleton.
The walk along Bradford Dale not only provides an opportunity to admire the scenery, but also to note the varying styles of bridges across the river and to gaze into the crystal clear fish pools as you near Middleton.
Length: 6 miles.
Start/Finish: Roadside car parking in the centre of Middleton.
Location: From the A6 Matlock to Buxton road take the B5056 for the village and then follow the signs for Middleton-by-Youlgreave.
Terrain: Mostly easy walking with only short climbs and descents. Much of the route follows the Lathkil and Bradford rivers. There are some muddy patches to watch out for in wet weather.
1. From the centre of the village, walk down the road opposite to the children’s play area and public toilet facilities. Continue as the road turns into a track, descending steadily with rock faces on either side.
2. As the route levels out, the track bends to the left to run alongside the River Bradford.
3. Follow the riverbank for a short distance until you reach a bridge, which you cross and follow the path on the opposite side of the river.
4. After a few yards the route divides and you turn right to walk along a clear path through the trees, which soon brings you back close to the river, before climbing up to the road.
5. Turn right and head down the road towards Youlgreave, turning left by The Old Hall which faces Holywell Lane, and then left again into Moor Lane.
6. Leaving the village behind, turn to the right along a rough unsurfaced lane running between limestone walls.
7. At the end of the lane go through a stile by a gate and keeping close to the wall on the left cross two fields to reach a tarmac road.
8. Turn right and in 30 yards go over a stile on the opposite side of the road.
9. With the wall close on the right, cross another two fields, heading towards the entrance to Meadow Place Grange farmyard.
10. Pass through the farmyard gateway and follow the signs across the yard between the buildings to leave by a gate into a field.
11. Bearing slightly to the right, cross the field to a gate to enter Lathkill Nature Reserve.
12. The path drops steadily through an area of mixed woodland and after bending back on itself reaches the riverbank.
13. Cross the river by the footbridge beside a ford and turn right and walk down Lathkill Dale for two-thirds of a mile.
14. On reaching a road, go to the right over Conksbury Bridge and as the road starts to climb go through a gap in the wall on the left.
15. The walk continues close to the river, for a mile, through several fields along a clear path to Alport.
16. Cross the road and continue in the same direction keeping close to the river. At a road intersection by a clapper bridge, continue straight on by the side of the River Bradford.
17. On reaching Holywell Lane cross the bridge over the river and follow the path up the other side.
18. After a short walk you will reach the bridge you crossed earlier; this time continue straight on.
19. From this point you will be easily able to retrace your steps back to the start of the walk.
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PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Arbor Low Stone Circle is a huge stone circle, which consists of a ring of stones surrounded by a grass bank and a ditch. No one knows for certain if the stones originally stood upright.
Bakewell Old House Museum: (Tel 01629 813642) built in Henry VIII’s reign, this splendid little museum is packed with interesting exhibits. The museum recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. For full opening details please ring or visit website.
Haddon Hall (Tel 01629 812855) is perhaps the most perfect example of a medieval manor house in the country. The gardens are a delight and believed to be the most romantic in Britain, being the setting for the elopement of Dorothy Vernon and John Manners. Contact for opening details.
Bull’s Head (Tel. 01629 636307) is a large attractive old pub, situated in the centre of Youlgreave. Full range of meals served at lunchtime and in the evenings. There is some outside seating at the front and in the courtyard. Accommodation is available.
The Old Smithy (Tel 01629 810190) at Monyash was formerly a Blacksmith's shop, which has been converted into a very popular cafe. Musical instruments adorn the walls. Bistro evenings take place most Saturdays – telephone for details. The café is now licensed. There is seating outside by the green. Open daily weekdays from 10am, weekends from 9am.
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It is hard to find a more attractive, less spoilt village in the whole of the Peak District. It also is surprisingly quiet as it is situated on an unclassified loop road and at weekend’s walkers often out number motorists. The spaciously laid out main street is lined by pretty limestone cottages, mostly re-built in the 1820s by Thomas Bateman.
The village is only a short distance from one of Derbyshire’s loveliest dales and is surrounded by excellent walking country. A track leads from the village down to Bradford Dale with its six pools of crystal clear water, which reflect the shadows of the mature trees along the steep sided dale. A view of which J B Frith described as “for peaceful loveliness and sheer prettiness nothing in Derbyshire excels it”.
Middleton seems a great place to visit if you want to get away from the stresses of modern day life. But beware everything may not be quite as it appears; from the front door of one house sometimes hangs a notice saying “forget the dog, beware of the kids”. This certainly makes a humorous change from the more usual type of Beware of the Dog notices.
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