Derbyshire Walk - Ogston Reservoir

Ogston Reservoir's dam wall

Ogston Reservoir's dam wall - Credit: Archant

Amble beside the Amber and hike to Highoredish with Sally Mosley for far-reaching views on this summer circumnavigation of Ogston Reservoir

DESCRIPTION: This rambling circuit around Ogston Reservoir will lead you off the beaten track. It takes you through meadows laced with wild flowers and alongside woodland where the remains of an old derelict chapel lie hidden. Along the way be sure to scan the skies for the sight of an osprey as this rare bird has been known to visit Ogston during the summer on its return from its winter nesting grounds in West Africa.

DISTANCE: 7.5 miles

PARKING: Ogston Reservoir North Car Park beside B6014 (DE55 6FL is the nearest post code) Grid Ref: SK374610

TERRAIN: 10+ stiles, 10+ gates. Moderately strenuous hike along country lanes and roads without pavements, woodland paths with trip hazards and across fields and stiles where livestock may be grazing. Fields planted with crops.

REFRESHMENTS: No refreshment facilities en route. Rucksack snack required

TOILETS: No public toilets

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MAP: O.S. Explorer 269 (Chesterfield and Alfreton)

WALK HIGHLIGHT: Wild flower meadows

1 Exit the car park and turn right along the main road. With EXTREME CARE walk beside the road until just beyond the sharp left-hand bend, then turn right and proceed along South Hill Lane. On your left is Brummit Plantation which is owned by the Woodland Trust. This small quiet area contains a mixture of beech, ash, alder, sycamore and oak, whilst to the right look across to where fishermen can regularly be seen on the shores of the reservoir.

2 After passing South Hill Farm on your left you will arrive at a metal gate on the right by a sharp bend. From here you can see the dam wall of Ogston Reservoir which was created in 1958 by flooding the valley. Most of the village of Woolley was submerged, including Woolley House Hydro, a village store, blacksmiths, joiners, laundry and ‘Napoleon’s Home’ – the village pub! The reservoir covers some 200 acres and can hold 1.3 billion gallons of water. It was here that Dame Ellen MacArthur, the solo long distance yachtswoman, learnt her sailing skills.

3 Continue on the lane until just before Reservoir Houses. Notice the traffic on the elevated A611 near Clay Cross. It is following the line of the ridge and travelling along the route of a former Roman Road known as Ryknild Street which then ran from the Fosse Way at Bourton-on-the-Water to Templeborough in South Yorkshire. At a red sign advising ‘no unauthorised vehicles beyond this point’ turn right and walk down the road past the water treatment plant.

4 Arriving at the private drive to Ogston Hall, turn left. Go through a gate and walk to Ogston Bridge to cross over the River Amber which has been released from the captive hold of the reservoir and is heading south to join forces with the Derwent at Ambergate. In the 14th century the Ogston estate was held by the Revell family of South Normanton before passing by marriage to the Turbutt’s following the death of William Revell in 1706. The present Hall dates back in parts to around 1500 but was much altered and extended over the following centuries. It stands proudly on the hilltop but is shrouded by trees and out of view, although you may just catch sight of the five-storey castellated tower built in 1851.

5 Immediately after Ogston Bridge turn right, descend steps and proceed to follow a footpath through riverside meadows where livestock graze on a diet of lush grass flavoured with wild flowers and herbs. Listen to a serenade of bird song which is regularly accompanied by a fortissimo instrumental sound as express trains whizz past on the nearby railway line.

6 Re-cross the Amber by means of a metal footbridge and then walk on a well-defined path through fields and stiles followed by a fabulous track between mature hedgerows towards Brackenfield.

7 Emerging onto a lane, cross over to follow a footpath through fields heading around to the right that will lead you to Brackenfield Church which was built in 1856 and dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

8 From the lych-gate head uphill, walking away from the junction of Butterfield Lane and Ogston New Road to ascend Church Lane. This takes you to the heart of Brackenfield which lies around an extensive village green, reputedly the largest in England.

9 Beyond the Village Hall follow School Lane up to the junction at Mathersgrave, a tiny hamlet consisting of only three properties. Built into the garden wall on the corner is a badly eroded guide stoop and a weatherworn stone with reference to a highwayman named Mather who was hanged and buried here. His bones were evidently discovered during road repairs in the 1920s. Follow the road sign for Ashover and walk along White Carr Lane.

10 Just beyond a footpath leading down to the right, go over a stile by a gate on the left and head uphill to the right of a sparse line of trees, bringing you to a path leading up the side of a wood. A little way up the path a gate on the right provides access to an old derelict building (notice warning signs about entry to the site). This former chapel-of-ease dated from the 13th century and was known as Trinity Chapel. A pilgrimage takes place once a year on Trinity Sunday when members of the parish walk here to pay worship.

11 Continue uphill towards Trinity Farm but turn right just before it to follow a diverted path through a steep field where benches at the top provide a well-earned rest and fabulous views over east Derbyshire. Walk on a footpath through the plantation of trees beyond to emerge on Coldharbour Lane, heading toward Highoredish, a name with its origins in lead-mining terminology.

12 Turn right down Berridge Lane and as you gently descend admire wondrous views. Look for a glint on the horizon as sun shines on the glass of Hardwick Hall.

13 At the junction turn left and rejoin White Carr Lane. At a fingerpost sign turn right and walk up the drive to Clattercotes Farm. Bear right to walk through the yard passing to the left of a most unusual old building with ecclesiastical features and old stonework reputedly acquired long ago from the derelict Trinity chapel. Beyond a large modern barn, continue on the footpath through a bank of woodland and then follow a well-defined path through fields and stiles which may be planted with cereal crops.

14 Arriving at the bottom edge of a field with a fingerpost pointing towards you, turn left and walk to the corner where there is another footpath sign. Go over a stile and then turn right to follow a lovely elevated path to an old barn. Turn left and walk past Yew Tree Farm to the remains of Woolley village.

15 Turn left and follow Quarry Lane back to the B6014 with the reservoir now over to your right. On meeting the main road turn right to return to the car park. When the roadside pavement ends, keep well into the side and in single file as vehicles may well be travelling past at speed.