Peak District walk - Grindleford and Padley Gorge circular

Autumn colours at Padley Gorge

Autumn colours at Padley Gorge - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Takes a ramble through a part of Derbyshire as pretty as it is historic.

Derbyshire is criss-crossed with historic tracks enjoyed by ramblers.  

Some of them have left only the faintest trace of their existence, such as the grass-covered Roman road crossing Green Lane near Friden.  

Older still, the ancient Portway (now part of the Limestone Way) meanders through some of the Peak District’s loveliest scenery, passing pre-historic sites.  

Centuries-old packhorse routes also provide ramblers with easy walking. In Edale (where lodging could be paid for in cheese at the Cheshire Cheese Inn), large slabbed pavements and tell-tale packhorse bridges remind us we are following long-established trading routes.  

More sinister, burial processions followed the so-called Coffin Trail from Edale to the parish church at Castleton via Collins Cross, now making for carefree walking in beautiful surroundings.  

The bucolic lane that leads from Thorpe to Cheadle via the long, arched Coldwall Bridge is an old coach road linking Ashbourne and Cheadle.  

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Old farm tracks, created for herding animals, take ramblers over quiet hills and through dales away from the hurly-burly of urban living.  

This circular walk from Grindleford Station is just one such walk taking advantage of Derbyshire’s quiet, history-steeped green lanes.  

Fuel up at Grindleford Café, renowned for its pint-sized hot drinks and generous portions. The full English or breakfast-in-a-roll will set you up for the day.  

Continue over the railway bridge where Totley Tunnel swallows up the train in the countryside and spits it out on the edge of Sheffield. 

Pass the Padley Gorge trail, restored 18th century mill house and a row of houses until you reach Padley Chapel next to the ruins of Padley Hall.  

Sheep by the River Derwent

Sheep by the River Derwent - Credit: Helen Moat

Only the foundation stones, flagstone floor and a few other features such as the fireplace remain of the hall but you can feel the hand of history in this place.  

William the Conqueror gave the land to the De Bernac family, who changed the family name to that of the estate – Padley.  

Through marriage it became the residence of the Fitzherbert family, devout Catholics who resisted pressure to convert to the Church of England.  

Defiantly, they hid two priests – Nicholas Garlick and Robert Ludlum – in the walls of the hall. Sadly, they were found and publicly hanged, drawn and quartered in Derby for high treason.  

Brothers John and Thomas Fitzherbert were imprisoned and the house confiscated by the Crown (later returned to the family).  

While the house fell into disrepair because of fines and family debt, the Grade I chapel is still very much intact. A pilgrimage takes place annually to commemorate the Padley Martyrs.  

Continue along the track through woods, farmland and moor until you reach the A6187. The pavement drops you down to the bustling village of Hathersage. If you continue straight on, you can enjoy a hot drink and a cheeky cake in one of the town’s tearooms.  

Padley Chapel and hall ruins

Padley Chapel and hall ruins - Credit: Helen Moat

Otherwise, cut across town via Crossland Road. The street sweeps left to become Oddfellows Road. If you’re walking in summer, Hathersage’s outdoor swimming pool on the left is a great way to break up your walk. It’s a God-send on hot days. Continuing on, the road meets the B6001. Turn left. 

Leaving Hathersage behind, follow the B600l past the state-of-the-art David Mellor cutlery factory, museum, shop and restaurant.  

Mellor isn’t just renowned for his exquisite tableware – it’s strange to see his celebrated urban street furniture in the middle of the Derbyshire countryside: traffic lights, litter bin, bus shelter and post-box. Admire the clean contemporary but functional designs of the creator. The factory is also a delightful circular building, constructed on the foundations of the old Hathersage Gas Works. 

Continuing on, look out for a sign on the left, reading ‘Harper Lees – Public Footpath Private Road’. Follow the lane then grassy paths across flood plains by the River Derwent.  

On entering woodland, look out for a left turn that rises up through wooded hillside, crossing the bridge over the railway track before continuing to climb upwards to the lane you started out on.  

Retrace your steps back to Padley Chapel, then Grindleford Station. 

Padley Chapel and ruins of Padley Hall

Padley Chapel and ruins of Padley Hall - Credit: Helen Moat

Is Padley Gorge the best place to visit in the Peak District during autumn?

COMPASS POINTS 

Start point: Grindleford Railway Station.  

Parking: Available on the approach road to Grindleford Station. 

Map: The Peak District White Peak Leisure Map: OL 24. 

Terrain: mostly flat with one short sharp ascent. 

Distance: 5 miles. 

Useful information: If you prefer a shorter ramble, walk the (Windses Estate) green lane to Hathersage and return by train to Grindleford Station. 

Refreshments: A plethora of eateries in Hathersage if you continue down through the main street; Hathersage Swimming Pool; the David Mellor Design Museum Café and Grindleford Railway Café.