Journal

  • Lathkill Dale & The Limestone Way

    “Lathkill is, by many degrees, the purest, the most transparent stream that I ever yet saw either at home or abroad…” ~ Charles Cotton, 1676 

    If you park at the Lathkill Hotel at Over Haddon as we did, you can walk down the winding lane to the Lathkill lodge, or you can ride here but you’ll need a change of shoes in your saddle bag, or cycling shoes that are ok for walking (the route is approx 8 miles). 

    Before you reach the lodge, you will turn right onto this beautiful limestone dale next to the River Lathkill. Down here, there is a scene of ash trees, growing beneath limestone crags, scree and pastel coloured grassland. You’ll notice the crystal clear stream and if you stop to inspect, you may even spot some darting trout. 

    Lead miners came here in the 18th and 19th century, some of the mine caves are still there for you to inspect. They drilled shafts and adits into the rock and built pump houses, aqueducts, waterwheels and even tramways. Due to overseas competition, the price of lead slumped and by 1870, the pistons stopped.

    There are remnants of that time here, the Peak District’s industrial past, now surrounded by lush plants. The valley is full of sycamore and ash trees. Amongst them you’ll see the mossy pillars, remains of the aqueduct built to supply water to the Mandale Mine which is close by. You can cross the river in places, a nice bridge allows you to inspect Bateman’s House, the former mining managers dwelling.  

    I have since been told that in dry periods of summer, the river disappears completely beneath the bed of limestone to be replaced by purple orchids, cowslips, primrose-like flowers and rock rose. Although, truth be told, I’ve never witnessed it. 

    When you exit this twisting valley you will arrive at Monyash. Here you will find a pub ‘The Bulls Head’ and a cafe ‘The Old Smithy’, a popular cycling destination for local riders. The pub once held the miners special Barmote Court. 

    The return leg of the walk is along high pastures overlooking the valley that you’ve just walked through, via Cales Dale and Calling Low this is know as the Limestone Way. You can nip through Meadow Place Grange to get back to the lodge where you started your walk. 

    If you want to make a weekend of it, there is Haddon Hall nearby, home of the Duke of Rutland. One of the finest and unspoilt medieval manor houses in England and used as a location for countless films and tv drama including Jane Eyre and Price and Prejudice. 

    All words by Thom Barnett

    Photos by Lulu Watson

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