British pubs are unique in the world, many of them oozing character and history, and Derbyshire has more than its fair share of them.

If you are trying to locate the Barley Mow in Kirk Ireton – one of the quirkiest pubs in the county – you might struggle to find it.

There’s no name on the 17th building (it looks like someone’s house) and there’s just a tiny wooden plaque hanging high in a tree to announce its existence.

Step inside and it really does feel like you’ve been returned to the 1800s.

Combine a visit to the Barley Mow with a circular 4.5-mile ramble that takes you along the shores of Carsington Water, quiet country lanes and over fields to the historic village of Kirk Ireton.

The inn is open from 6pm during the week (for drinks only). Food is served at the weekends from midday (phone your order ahead).

Great British Life: Rambling through Carsington Water's circular trail Photo: Helen MoatRambling through Carsington Water's circular trail Photo: Helen Moat


1. From Millfields Car Park (£6 for 2-4 hours; £7 all day) head east to join the wide gravel path (Reservoir Trail) that circles Carsington Water.

2. A short way along, you’ll come to a green signpost informing you you’ve walked 500 metres from the car park.

A little further on, you’ll see a stone building. Detour left along the narrower path and peer into the hut.

You’ll find a wonky world of wooden furnishings: piano, table, chair, an old radio, grandfather clock, standard lamp and fireplace (there’s even a picture hanging above it).

Continue along the path before rejoining the main path, the Reservoir Trail. The path rises and falls, roughly following the shore.

This part of the ramble shouldn’t be rushed: go through gates into waterside meadows and discover more wood-carved sculptures.

3. When the path climbs to a high point with a bench (just before Upperdale Farm) cut across to a gate leading into Oldfield Lane (where you’re unlikely to meet any traffic). Head up the lane until you reach its junction with Blind Lane.

4. Cross over the road and climb the stile into a field. Traverse four more fields until you reach a narrow path that follows the boundary between houses.

Having battled the holly hedges and brambles of the narrow footpath, you’ll emerge at Moor Lane.

5. Cross the road to the pavement and head downhill into the village. Moor Lane becomes Town End, then Main Street.

Great British Life: The quirky Barley Mow at Kirk Ireton Photo: Helen MoatThe quirky Barley Mow at Kirk Ireton Photo: Helen Moat

6. You’ll find the Barley Mow beside the village shop at a triangle of roads, a handsome three-storied building with a double frontage and mullion windows.

Step inside and you’ll find one of the plainest pub rooms you’re likely to ever experience – almost puritanical in its austerity.

There’s a second small room that has a cosier feel. Order a beer, and it’s likely to be poured from a jug that has in turn been filled from a cask kept behind the bar just out of sight.

Sample one of the traditional still ciders and feel yourself slip into the past. Having re-energised, turn right outside the pub and take the road signed ‘Blackwall (only)’.

7. Look out for a field gate and fingerpost on your right. Go through into a field. Cross straight across four fields (the worn grass clearly indicating the way) then between hedge and fence to one last field.

8. On reaching Broom Lane, cross over to Hays Lane. The quiet lane (likely to be traffic-free) drops down to Carsington Water again. Look out for a path on the left that takes you back to Millfields car park.


DISTANCE: 3.25 miles


MAP: OS Explorer Map OL24 Peak District White Peak Area

DIFFICULTY: Easy walking, gently undulating. Some stiles to negotiate and prickly hedges to squeeze through.

REFRESHMENTS: Apart from the Barley Mow in Kirk Ireton, there’s a kiosk at Millfields Car Park that’s open bank holidays, school holidays and weekends.