Peak District Walk - Winster

Characterful cottages in Winster

Characterful cottages in Winster - Credit: Archant

Known for its secret gardens, Shrovetide Pancake Race and numerous listed buildings, Winster also has a labyrinth of gennels, jitties and yards to explore

DISTANCE 6 miles

PARKING Public car park next to Winster School on Wensley Road DE4 2DH

TERRAIN Four gates, Six stiles. Woodland path with trip hazards. Slippery boardwalk. Roadway without pavement. Livestock grazing.

REFRESHMENTS The Druid Inn & Red Lion, Birchover; The Bowling Green & Miners Standard, Winster; Winster Village Shop

Winster Market House

Winster Market House - Credit: Archant

TOILETS Public toilets, East Bank, Winster

MAP OS Explorer OL24 (White Peak)

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WALK HIGHLIGHT Higgledy-piggledy Winster

DESCRIPTION This winter wander, mainly following paths, tracks and quiet country lanes, is an exploration of Winster which is tucked away in the limestone hills followed by Birchover that nestles on the edge of a sandstone oasis topped by mystical, magical Stanton Moor.

Map by Kate Ridout @earlybirdgraphics

Map by Kate Ridout @earlybirdgraphics - Credit: Archant

1. On leaving the car park turn left and walk into Winster along Wensley Road, heading for the Old Market House which dominates Main Street. Built in the early 18th century and used for trading local produce under its once open arches, this building was acquired by the National Trust in 1906 for £50, and was the first National Trust property in the Peak District.

2. Turn left and walk up East Bank passing the Bowling Green Inn. Follow the road uphill going left as it divides, and this will bring you to the top of Winster from where there are far reaching views over the village to the north. On reaching the road coming up West Bank, turn left and walk past the small car park with bottle banks. Just beyond this is the Old Parish Poorhouse built in 1744. One of the old rules stated ‘no persons shall be allowed any relief out of the house unless in sickness or on some very extraordinary occasion’. On the other side of the former village green is the Miners Standard public house which dates back to 1653 and was named after the dish used by miners to measure ore, the original being kept in the Barmoot Hall in Wirksworth.

3. Follow the pavement as it joins the main road and then cross carefully over to a stone building with gated front which is reputedly the best preserved Ore House in the Peak District. Used as a nightsafe, miners would have deposited their precious ore using the chute at the rear and then claimed it back the next day. Walk up the minor road to the rear of the Ore House and then turn right on reaching a track with a fingerpost for ‘Limestone Way to Elton’ and follow a stretch of this 55-mile, long distant trail from Castleton to Rocester. Notice on your walk several small stone buildings dotted around the landscape - Winster is noted for its field barns, many built by lead miners who were also part time smallholders.

4. This walled path also follows part of a prehistoric trackway known as The Portway. Its route has been traced from Mam Tor in the north to the Hemlock Stone on the edge of Nottingham and is thought to date back to the Bronze Age when used by early man travelling between distant hill forts. This section known as Islington Lane passes a rock formation on the right known as Grey Tor before crossing the drive to Westhill Farm.

5. Emerging onto the road leading into Elton at Chadwick Hill, carefully cross over and descend Dudwood Lane passing beside the site of the now disused Portaway Mine. At the bottom of the lane you may wish to extend your walk by a mile or so and continue on the Limestone Way to explore the rock formation known as Robin Hood’s Stride or to visit the medieval hermit’s cave located in woodland by heading up the drive towards Cratcliff Cottage and then following fingerpost directions.

6. Returning to the bottom of Dudwood Lane carefully cross over the main road and turn left to walk past an area of roadside parking. Just beyond the triangular road sign for horse and rider go through a little gate and walk along a short section of boardwalk then follow the footpath which leads steeply uphill.

7. Cross over a stile at the top of the bank and turn left to follow a track to Birchover, eventually passing the tiny church dedicated to Saint Michael, and emerging onto the main street by the side of The Druid Inn. Cross over the road and turn left, walking towards an unusual round stone sculpture on the grass verge. This is the Birchover Millennium Stone designed as a reminder of the millstones that were once quarried hereabouts. The carving on its base is a copy of a Romanesque carving discovered in a wall at Uppertown. Just before the stone turn right to follow a steep woodland footpath as indicated by a fingerpost.

8. Continue uphill, ignoring paths leading off on either side and as it levels out notice the ivy clad ruins of old quarry buildings. This brings you to the car park of Birchover Stone Limited. Exit the car park turning left and walk on the road past the office buildings and yard where stone is cut and dressed to be used as building blocks.

9. Walk along the road until you come to a path on the right at the side of a tall decaying tree trunk and then head on the footpath past the sign for Stanton Moor to an information plaque beyond and then walk up the sandy path to the famous Cork Stone, a natural monolith of gritstone shaped over time by erosion from the elements. Stanton Moor is a Scheduled Monument because of its national importance as an area that has been farmed for thousands of years.

10. Bear right at the Cork Stone and continue to a junction of paths where there is a small waymarker cairn of stones. From this hilltop oasis of stone boulders and rocks dotted amongst bracken and heather, there are distant views over limestone hills towards Bonsall Moor and Riber Castle. All around are dips and hollows being the scars of old quarry workings as well as the remains of ancient tumuli where early man buried their dead as close to the heavens as possible.

11. Turn right at the cairn and follow the path to exit Stanton Moor. Turn right on reaching the road and walk 50 yards as indicated to a stile. Head down the footpath to Barn Farm campsite where you may well see resident peacocks strutting around or lined up on rooftops. Continue straight ahead beyond the farm yard and Hill Carr Barn and then follow a footpath sign for Birchover, leading you down the drive.

12. Turn left on reaching the road and head downhill to a junction with tiny triangle of grass where there is a stone tank that held Birchover’s water supply before mains water came to the village. Just before this on the left you will have passed a tiny walled Pinfold where stray animals were locked up to await being collected by their owners who had to pay a small fine for their release.

13. Turn left at the tank and head past the playing field to Uppertown, said to be the oldest part of the village. Notice the old stocks which were restored in 1951. Continue on the road which now descends steeply and becomes an extremely narrow holloway, barely passable by cars. This quiet lane leads back to Winster. On reaching the end of Birchover Lane turn left and walk past the grand entrance gates to Oddo House before heading through the churchyard to emerge at the side of the Elizabethan Dower House.

14. You may wish to end your walk by heading back to the car park along Winster’s main street, passing the impressive Winster Hall and excellent community shop. Alternatively, why not explore the maze of little paths that dash between houses, cut through terraces of cottages and eventually wend your way back to the far side of the village.