Peak District walk - Curbar Edge and the Derwent River
- Credit: Helen Moat
Curbar Edge may not be alpine high but teetering on a rocky slab high above the Derwent Valley is a dizzying experience. This route leads the rambler through a wonderfully diverse landscape of upland, forest and river. After the expanse of exposed moorland edge, the oaks and birches below the escarpment feel snug and intimate, the harsh cries of raptors replaced by the gentle song of woodland birds. The riverside stretch back to Calver is a fine finale with Curbar Edge stretching out across the skyline above the Derwent.
1. From Calver Bridge, climb Curbar Lane, passing through the old Rutland Estate village of Curbar, where it becomes Bar Road. When the road bends left, continue straight on through a squeeze stile to ascend fields. Where the path meets the road again (now Clodhall Lane), continue upwards, taking the first left-hand track up onto the escarpment.
2. At the top follow the finger post pointing towards Curbar Edge. Join the wide stony track heading northwest along the escarpment. Take time to explore the jumble of rocks and look out for abandoned millstones – the doughnut-shaped gritstone wheels once used to grind grains into flour.
3. As the track descends, enjoy views across the valley to White Peak villages tumbling off the hillside. Look out for a small signpost on the left. It leads off along the bottom of a rockface. Keep your eyes peeled for a small path leading steeply down through the trees, just a short way along the base of the rocks.
4. Head down the path until you reach the A625, near the Chequers Inn. The inn you see today was frequented by the notorious Eyam body-snatchers of the late 18th century – they called in for a flagon of ale before continuing on to Sheffield to dig up corpses they then sold on to medics. Where you emerged at the A625, climb the stile over the wall on the opposite side of the road and continue downhill.
5. The path meets a second road; Froggatt Lane. Turn right here, then left to cross Froggatt Bridge. Linger on the bridge, taking in the broad sweep of the Derwent. If lucky, you might glimpse a water vole emerging from the riverbank. The river may not be glacier-deep, but still has enough depth to allow river swimmers to plough the section between Froggatt and New Bridges.
6. At the end of the bridge a gate leads to the riverside path. Continue to New Bridge with the river on your left. Cross the road, to pick up the path again, the Derwent still on your left. Pass Shuttle House, built to house machinery that controlled the flow of water, then the snake-shaped Calver Weir. The scheduled monument is particularly impressive in winter when the water cascades off the stone face.
7. The path now follows a goit (leat) before emerging at Stocking Farm. The striking building with its bellcote was built as a Sunday school before being converted to a day school for the children of Calver Mill’s employees. Join a lane here, passing the imposing mill that produced cotton up until 1923. The lane emerges at Calver Bridge – and the end of a very satisfying walk.
Distance: 4 miles
Map: OS Explorer Map OL24, White Peak
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Grid Reference: SK246744
Difficulty: Moderate. After the initial climb up to Curbar Edge, the wide stony track along the escarpment is fairly level. In contrast, the steep drop down through the rooted woodland path requires careful footing. Once down, the riverside stretch is an easy stroll back to your starting point.
Parking: There’s some roadside parking around the bridge and Curbar Primary School.
Refreshments: The Chequers Inn at Froggatt; the Bridge Inn and Eating House at the Derbyshire Craft Centre at Calver Bridge (Covid-19 restrictions permitting).
Easy alternative: Go along Dukes Lane and through the wooden gate on the left to follow the right bank of the river. Reach Froggatt Lane, cross the bridge, return to Calver along the far bank.