Peak District Walk - Hartington

The duck pond at Hartington

The duck pond at Hartington - Credit: Archant

Chosen years ago by Coronation Street scriptwriters as the perfect retirement home for Hilda Ogden, Hartington is a quaint little village surrounded by fabulous footpaths

Description Curled up in the valley of the Dove, Hartington is betwixt rollercoaster limestone hills and a ridge of gritstone. Being a traditional farming area, this walk is an undulating amble through a succession of fields and stiles to Sheen followed by the heady heights of Sheen Hill before descending an old packhorse route to finish with a gentle wander on a very quiet gated road amid a scenic landscape beside the meandering Dove.

Distance 6 miles

Parking Market Place, Hartington or Parson’s Field Car Park, Hartington SK17 0BE (pay & display)

Terrain Fifteen or more gates, eight stiles. Long stretches of quiet country lane without pavement. Fields where livestock may be grazing. Some areas prone to mud in wet weather. Farm dogs.

Map by Kate Ridout @earlybirdgraphics

Map by Kate Ridout @earlybirdgraphics - Credit: Archant

Refreshments Choice of hotel, pub, tearooms and shops in Hartington.

Toilets Near pay and display car park on Mill Lane

Map O.S. Explorer OL24 – White Peak

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Walk highlight Gargoyles at Sheen Church

1. From the duck pond in the centre of Hartington walk to the left of The Old Cheese Shop and down Stonewell Lane towards the disused premises of the former Hartington Cheese Factory. A cheese factory first opened here in 1870 with an initial daily intake of just 50 gallons of milk. Expanding over the years, it was at one time producing 1,600 tons of cheese a year, most of which was Hartington Blue Stilton. Following the factory’s closure in May 2009, the new Hartington Creamery was established in 2012. Sited a few miles away at Pikehall, it is still within the Hartington parish boundary, and produces Peakland White and Peakland Blue cheeses which can be purchased from various outlets including the little nearby shop.

2. Go through a small gate on the right and follow the sign for footpath 293 to Sheen, taking you across fields and over the River Dove by means of an interesting metal footbridge.

3. From the river walk in a virtually straight line across a field and then up the grassy bank beyond. Near the top you will pass through a gap where somewhere in the gorse bushes to your side are sure to be flowers, hence the age old adage ‘When gorse is in bloom, kissing is in season’! After crossing a further field, follow the farm track to Sheen, passing through the farmyard at Lower House.

4. Turn right and walk to Sheen Church dedicated to St Luke. The first house of worship here dated from 1185 and the oldest grave slab from 1200. However, the church you see now was rebuilt 1828-32 by Berresford Hope to one of William Butterfield’s designs. Its weathered copper spire is a local landmark. Notice also the wonderful gargoyles at the base of the tower which are probably medieval in origin. Continue on Sheen’s main street known as Pown Street to Manor Farm, one of the oldest farmsteads in the village. It was here that the Sheen Farmers Tug-of-War Club was formed in 1971.

5. Turn left on a narrow lane signposted Brund. At the first bend where it twists and descends, go over a wall stile on your right. Aiming towards the trig point on top of Sheen Hill which rises to 1,247 feet, cross fields and stiles and a wide earth bridge over a brook.

6. Walk beneath telephone wires stretching between telegraph posts and after the next stile turn left to walk around the side of Sheen Hill with Slate House Farm down to your left. Experience an ‘on top of the world’ feeling as you observe spectacular far-reaching views over the Staffordshire Moorlands. Go past a cottage and descend steeply down a grassy bank from the drive to access a stile in the wall leading onto a lane.

7. Turn right and follow this lane uphill until it meets a junction from where there are sweeping aerial views over the valley. Notice Broadmeadow Hall which is a fabulous 17th century manor house with mullioned windows. Beyond it on the other side of the river are the bumpy earthwork remains of Pilsbury Castle. This was a Norman motte and bailey construction, erected to control an early trackway through the Dove Valley. Built in the late 11th or early 12th century, the defensive buildings would have been of timber construction containing a garrison and watchtower.

8. From the junction walk a few yards to the right and then head down a footpath on the route of a former packhorse track and saltway from Cheshire, that lead through the ancient settlement of Pilsbury and on to Derbyshire. Re-cross the Dove by means of a narrow wooden footbridge beside Pilsbury Ford which was an important early crossing of the river.

9. Walk up the track known as Marty Lane to the tiny hamlet of Pilsbury and turn right to follow a quiet gated road back to Hartington. Watch out for rabbits on the grassy banks where in spring wild flowers flourish and snow-like blossom adorns the wizened hawthorn bushes. Lambs frolic in the riverside meadows whilst buzzards can often be seen circling in the skies above.

10. Just before arriving back at Hartington you will pass Moat Hall which was formerly Poole Hall, and for a time home to the De La Pole family and Lords of the Manor of Hartington from the 14th century.

You might like to end your walk with a wander around the village. Hartington’s market charter was granted to Earl Ferrers in 1203 and is one of the oldest on record in the Peak District, earlier even than Chesterfield which acquired its charter a year later. In the market place are former coaching inns – The Devonshire Arms and the Charles Cotton Hotel. On the left at the bottom of Church Street is the Old Vicarage with mounting block beside the gate. This house was built in the 18th century on the profits from local mining and was home to Cornelius Flint who was the agent of Ecton copper mines from 1779-1811. The mines, situated to the south-east, were owned by the Duke of Devonshire who used the revenue from them to build The Crescent at Buxton and associated stabling which we now know as The Dome.

St Giles Church is mostly 13th century with a 15th century tower and contains an unusual effigy of a lady thought to be that of Margaret de Ferrers, Countess of Derby. Dating from the early 13th century it appears as though the woman is in her coffin with only head and feet exposed. Hartington Hall on Hall Bank was built in 1611 and is said to be the oldest surviving Youth Hostel, being opened in 1934.