Outstanding views and fascinating places to visit, this walk reveals much of the heritage of the area and the industrial landscape.
After leaving Wirksworth behind, Bolehill is soon reached. The village takes its name from open hearths or boles where, for 400 years, lead was smelted. Following a short steep climb Barrel Edge is reached, the outstanding view from the trig point making the effort worthwhile.
From Black Rocks you climb steadily up the High Peak Trail passing Steeple Grange Light Railway and the National Stone Centre on the way to Middleton Top, where the Engine House contains a beam engine once used to raise and lower wagons up the incline. The shop is well worth investigation and you can hire a bicycle here for exploration of the trail.
After leaving the trail the route soon drops to follow the perimeter of the quarry road before descending to follow a fenced path through a shallow part of the quarry. Soon you will see the houses that survived the ‘Big Hole’ quarry excavations, many others having long since disappeared from sight. A feature of this part of the walk, are the marvellous views over Wirksworth and beyond.
When you reach the Heritage Centre do try to pop in, to see for yourself the truly remarkable story of this little town. Refreshment is available in the adjoining café.
Length: 4.5 miles.
Start / finish: Car park on B5035 next to the Vaults in Coldwell Street.
Location: On the B5023 road from Duffield to Cromford.
Terrain: The section from Bolehill to Barrel Edge is quite steep, as is the descent back to Wirksworth, otherwise the walk is easy.
1. Go left at the top of the car park into Chapel Lane - left again at the junction with North End - within a few yards right by an infant school down past North End Mills Factory Shop.
2. Cross an old railway bridge to take a surfaced path to the left through the fields, eventually leading to a lane up to Bolehill.
3. Keep straight on at the cross roads past the Methodist Chapel, up the road between two cottages - before turning onto a narrow winding path on the left - leading up to a flight of stone steps and going to the right up Oakerthorpe Road.
4. Continue for a short distance until just past a wooden shed at Lantern Cottage on the left take the stepped path up towards Barrel Edge, following the waymarked route to enter a wood.
5. Bear to the left close to the front of the wood, to reach the trig point where the views are outstanding. Remaining on the left of Black Rocks take the path which brings you down to an information board by the High Peak Trail and the Black Rocks Car Park.
6. Follow the High Peak Trail to the left to ascend Middleton Incline. If you wish to divert to the Rising Son for refreshment go to the left, opposite an information board, which quickly brings you onto the road into the village and the pub.
7. Continue past Middleton Top Engine House, until you reach a rough track that crosses the trail. Turn left and in about 20 yards go to the right to descend a small flight of steps, before following a waymarked route to the left leading across the fields down to the road.
8. Go over the stile on the opposite side of the road to follow the path to the left over two small fields and continue across the next field alongside a fence on the left to join a fenced path close by the quarry.
9. On reaching a minor road, follow the clearly marked path by the side of the road downhill, eventually swinging to the left along a fenced path through a short tunnel in the quarry.
10. Follow the fenced path to the road, which loops round a hairpin bend. Take the higher of the two roads, to drop down a very steep descent into Wirksworth.
11. Just before reaching Babington House, go right along a path with a handrail and at a road junction turn left for about 20 yards before turning right along Bowling Green Lane. Take the next left turn down a walled path past the Heritage Centre to the Market Place.
12. Go to the left and then left again at the main street, turning to the right in front of the Red Lion, down Coldwell Street back to the start of the walk.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Wirksworth Heritage Centre: (Tel. 01629 825225) where the ‘Wirksworth Story’ is told taking you on a fascinating journey through time on three floors of the centre. The special displays are excellent and if you want something different you can always try a computer game. For further information see the special feature
The National Stone Centre: (Tel. 01629 824833) tells the story of stone, its geological and industrial history. The exhibition inside shows how advanced technology makes use of stone in an incredible number of ways. Outside the visitor centre, the quarry trail takes you back over three hundred million years. Open all year seven days a week.
North End Mills: (Tel. 01629 824731) one of the largest factory shops in the country which sells clothes for all the family. Visitors to the Mills can still see hosiery being made, have a coffee and admire the display of old photographs of Wirksworth. Open seven days a week.
Crown Yard Kitchen: (Tel. 01629 822020) located next to the Heritage Centre. Please telephone for details or visit website. Seating outside. Art and craft displays.
The Rising Sun, Middleton: (Tel. 01629 822420) walkers and cyclists are very welcome at this popular pub within easy reach of the High Peak Trail. Open all day. Meals served at lunchtime and in the evenings during the summer. There is a beer garden and a secure lock up for cycles.
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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The small town of Wirksworth does not perhaps make much impact on the busy traveller driving through. All those visitors, however, with time to explore the narrow streets and maze of interesting alleyways, to admire the old buildings and lovely views, to visit the ancient church and the cathedral–like close, will soon find themselves falling in love with this fascinating old town.
As lead mining declined, the limestone quarries provided work for people who lived in the area. The great upheaval came in 1925--26 with the re-opening of Dale Quarry, when mechanisation was introduced and a stone crusher installed in a hole between two hundred and three hundred feet deep. Inevitably the whole of this densely populated area declined and the town was badly affected by dust, dirt and noise.
Help was at hand and the remarkable story of the regeneration of the town is told at the Heritage Centre.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.