3 perfect Christmas walks in Derbyshire
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Christmas walks are all part of the festive tradition – precious days spent in the outdoors – hatted, scarved, gloved and booted.
In Derbyshire we’re spoilt for choice. Here are three of the county’s loveliest yuletide rambles to enjoy this festive season.
Words by Helen Moat
Yuletide in Tideswell
Highlight: The Suffolk Carvings in the ‘Cathedral in the Peak’
Festive Fare: High Nelly’s, Bank Square
One of the Peak’s highest villages, Tideswell’s renowned for its wintery weather and beautiful surroundings.
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From Tideswell Dale Car Park on the B6049, cross to the fingerpost and head through fields to Meadow Farm. Turn right to follow Meadow Lane, enclosed by dry-stone walls, into the village.
Enjoy views across the uplands, the criss-cross of stone field enclosures like a Mondrian painting. Continue down Sherwood Road, then Sunny Bank Lane into the centre of the settlement.
Head up High Street. How about some Fairtrade coffee or Yorkshire tea from High Nelly’s? The chic café, cheerfully decorated for Christmas, offers tasty home-cooked, home-baked lunches.
Drop into the ‘Cathedral in the Peak’ with its stunning Suffolk Carvings, others dating back to the Middle Ages. Pews, pulpit, stalls and screens are covered in intricately sculpted flora and fauna, biblical scenes and strange mythical creatures, all enhanced with yuletide greenery and candles.
Head south again through Tideswell’s main street. Turn right into Richard Lane, then left along the track running parallel to the B6049. Meeting the road, march the short distance along the pavement to the car park, feeling better for a good post-Christmas work-out.
Starry Skies at Surprise View
Highlight: Carl Wark Hillfort
Festive Fare: Millstone Country Inn
There is something truly magical about stepping out at night under a navy sky, illuminated only by galaxies and the light of the moon.
Other than the starlit sky and shadowy outlines, vision is restricted to the few feet cast by torchlight. It allows us to hone in on the textures and shapes of our immediate surroundings; we see the world afresh.
Few places are more beautiful than the Dark Peak moorlands off Surprise View Car Park, and especially so at night.
At this Dark Sky Site, finish off the year with a bang and step out onto a moorland strung with stars on a clear winter’s evening.
Head across Millstone Edge as the light fades out and on to the ancient hillfort of Carl Wark. Take in the shadowy rocks of Higger Tor before retracing your steps to the car park via Mother’s Cap.
Watch the stars come out one by one. Stop frequently to take in the winter constellations: Orion, Gemini, Taurus and Perseus. It’s unlikely you’ll see the Aurora but there’s a good chance of seeing a meteor shower.
Settle down with a flask drink and enjoy the end-of-year spectacle, then drive down to the bright lights of Millstone Country Inn to warm up.
End-of-year magic in Milldale
Highlight: The Viator’s Bridge
Festive Fare: The George at Alstonefield
The last day of December’s approaching, festivities are drawing to a close and the New Year beckons. It’s time to return to simple pleasures and enjoy the stillness and beauty of Derbyshire’s White Peak.
Head for Milldale, a delightful hamlet tucked into the Dove valley. Before setting out, climb onto the Viator’s Bridge, so narrow it caused writer and fishing guru, Izaac Walton to exclaim ‘What’s here, the sign of a bridge? Do you travel in wheelbarrows in this country? … Why a mouse can hardly go over it, ‘tis not two fingers broad.’
He may have indulged in a little hyperbole but the miniature footbridge sets the scene for this beautiful settlement with its little barn (information point), babbling river and topsy-turvy stone cottages cascading off the hillside.
Head up through the steep dale of cottages, woodland and meadow past Milldale Car Park, looking out for a squeeze stile in the wall on the right, climb up and over to Alstonefield.
Make your way to the George, set behind the triangular green and its spreading tree. With its quarry-tiled floor, lime-washed walls, decorative paraphernalia, crackling fires, woollen blankets, candles and rustic furniture, the 400-year-old coaching inn oozes winter hygge.
Enjoy a steak-and-ale pie and a pint by the wood-burner before careering down Millway Lane back to Milldale. The expansive views over the White Peak will warm your heart.
In December’s Derbyshire Life, Helen Moat identifies 12 perfect festive walks. To subscribe, please click here.