Peak District Walk - Bakewell

Coalpit Bridge

Coalpit Bridge - Credit: Archant

Most famous for its puddings and tarts, Bakewell is the only town in the Peak District National Park. It straddles the River Wye and sits snugly between the rolling limestone hills of the White Peak and the dramatic escarpments and moors of Dark Peak gritstone. On home ground, Sally Mosley takes us on a lovely walk along beautiful Lathkill Dale and back to the town

DISTANCE 6.5 miles

PARKING Various long stay car parks in Bakewell

TERRAIN There are 10 stiles and 10+ gates as well as uneven terrain. Riverside paths are prone to mud and occasional flooding may occur. Some sections of road and lane walking are without pavements.

REFRESHMENTS Bakewell has numerous tearooms, pubs and food shops. The Lathkil Hotel at Over Haddon

A view of Lathkill Dale from above

A view of Lathkill Dale from above - Credit: Archant

TOILETS Public toilets in Bakewell. Public toilets in Over Haddon (located in the pay & display car park at the far end of the village from the pub)

MAP OS Explorer OL24

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WALK HIGHLIGHT Aerial view down onto the river and weirs of Lathkill Dale

DESCRIPTION This scenic walk with riverside paths, historic buildings and elevated footpaths over the Derbyshire hills, incorporating a pub with far reaching views, is rambling paradise. End it with a wander around the shops and a sample of Bakewell Pudding for sheer perfection!

Map by Kate Ridout @earlybird graphics

Map by Kate Ridout @earlybird graphics - Credit: Archant

1. Start your walk at Bakewell’s five-arched bridge that has spanned the River Wye for 700 years. Proceed downstream with the river on your left and cross a modern metal footbridge which has recently become decorated with padlocks – a new and romantic custom that has spread from Paris for lovers wanting to lock tight their love for one another. Look in the river for huge brown or rainbow trout which enjoy the deep shadows on the downstream side of the bridge.

2. From the footbridge continue ahead to the Agricultural Business Centre, constructed when the livestock market was moved across the river in the 1990’s because the town centre had become conjested on Monday market day. Bakewell was awarded its market charter in 1330 and is one of the best in the County. Head out past the new Show Office building by the cattle grid and cross meadows beside the showground and river where there is a choice of routes, most are clearly marked and well walked.

3. After passing an ancient ash tree, fenced off to protect passers-by from falling branches, you should reach a farm drive. Turn right and walk a few yards to resume your riverside path which eventually emerges at a stile onto the side of the A6 main road. Turn left and follow the pavement down to the entrance and gatehouse for Haddon Hall, considered to be the best example of a medieval manor house in England.

4. WITH EXTREME CARE cross the main road using the island between carriageways to help you, and head up the old coach track leading to Haddon Fields. Glance behind from time to time to enjoy views back towards Haddon Hall. With its castellated turrets, towers and romantic legend of lovers eloping, it is little wonder that Haddon has been used as a setting for numerous films and television dramas.

5. After gently ascending for almost half a mile, the track becomes a bridlepath leading past a cluster of isolated farm buildings before descending steeply on a zig-zag path through woodland to Coalpit Bridge, one of the prettiest packhorse bridges in the Peak District. The little private summerhouse nearby is occasionally the venue for fishing parties from Haddon, whilst across the river is Raper Lodge which was used as a set in the 1970 adaptation of DH Lawrence’s novel ‘The Virgin & the Gypsy’.

6. Cross the bridge and turn right just before the house to follow a footpath which emerges onto a very narrow road without a footway. Turn right and keep well under the side as you walk down to Conksbury Bridge. Dating back hundreds of years, this ancient structure with very low arches appears more like a long low wall spread across the river.

7. Continue on the road as it ascends steeply on the other side of the dale until a sharp right-hand bend. Go over a little stile on the left and head up the short, steep path through trees and shrubbery to elevated fields.

In 1854 the slope here took on a ‘Klondike’ appearance. It was claimed that gold had been found in a bed of volcanic toadstone, resulting in the £1 shares in the mine escalating overnight to £30 each. After much publicity and excitement the gold was analysed as iron pyrite or fool’s gold. Within a short while the mine was closed, thus ending the Lathkill Gold Rush!

8. Follow the footpath with amazing aerial views of the river below, aiming for the long white building in the distance which is the Lathkil Hotel, where you may wish to rest awhile to drink in the scenic landscape as you sample some local brew!

9. A little cottage once stood hereabouts which was home to Martha Taylor, also known as the ‘Derbyshire Non-Such’, ‘Fasting Damsel’ or ‘Mirabile Pecci’. She gained nationwide interest and curiosity when in 1667 she began a fast that is said to have lasted more than a year, existing only on a few drops of water with sugar or the juice of a roasted raisin. Martha gained nationwide interest, resulting in a documented record of the case that is reputedly held at the British Museum. Return to the stile at the side of the pub and head up past the little ‘millennium tree’. The uneven ground hereabouts marks the site of Over Haddon Hall. Built in the 16th century but demolished sometime in the 1800s it must have been an amazing place to live.

10. Walk across a couple of fields to emerge onto a narrow lane not far from New Close Farm, reputedly built with recycled stone from the demolished Hall. Turn right and with extreme care, follow the narrow lane to a junction opposite Noton Barn Farm.

11. Turn left and keep well under the side as you walk on the road to a sharp bend. Go through a heavy metal gate on your right to follow an indicated bridlepath down the field. This then becomes Intake Lane, a rough stone track between fields that were long ago ‘taken in’ from common grazing land. The lane provided farmers with a means of access to their land.

12. Arriving back at Bakewell beside Haddon Road, carefully cross the A6 and follow the pavement to Agricultural Way. Do not cross Meaden Bridge but follow instead a footpath between allotments and houses which takes you to the recreation ground being an area of some 5.25 hectares that was given to the town in the 1920s by the Duke of Rutland for public enjoyment. Bakewell is appreciated and enjoyed by residents and locals as well as being a magnet to visitors because of its high percentage of independent shops, regular special events and festivals together with a thriving community spirit. During June and early July the town is a riot of colour and revelry. This is the time of the year to celebrate well dressings, the annual carnival and Bakewell’s sensational Day of Dance.