The Beeley & Chatsworth Estate

I've explored these parts many times on the road bike, both the road and rough-stuff from the top of Beeley Moor. I've noticed a few footpaths and bridleways that I thought would be worth checking out on foot. 

The influence of Chatsworth house on the surrounding villages of Pilsley, Edensor and Beeley can be felt in this area, for over two centuries Beeley was effectively an estate village belonging to the successive Dukes of Devonshire. 

Many of the properties now have been sold-off but the village pub, The Devonshire Arms, has been brought back into the Duke's control in recent years. Formally three separate cottages, these were knocked together. King Edward VII and Charles Dickens are both said to have stayed there and this is where we started our walk. 

The first part of the route leads up through the plantations, running next to Beeley Brook and Moor Farm, before opening up across the open fields of Beeley Moor. From there you can visit Hob Hurst's House, a Bronze age burial mound named after a mischievous goblin (or giant) which lives in the nearby woods. 

Dropping back down into the woods across Beeley Brook you cross the road and take the bridleway for approx 1 mile, eventually encountering the remains of industry in the woods just beyond Fallinge Farm. As early as the mid-1600s a lead smelting mill has been established on the hillside, fuelled by coal dug from a seam on Beeley Moor. 

Once you leave the woods you cross several fields and across numerous wall stiles,  heading back towards the village. The Devonshire Arms serves Jaipur, or you can nip in The Old Smithy Cafe for homemade cakes and tea. 


Start + Finish ~ Grid Reference SK265676 

All words and photos by Thom Barnett 

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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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The Upper Derwent Valley

We started our walk at the Cutthroat Bridge car park on the A57. I have walked and cycled around the woodland-fringed parts of the Derwent and Ladybower reservoirs many times so I decided a different approach was necessary. 

I have never been up to the Millstone grit escarpment that lies on Derwent Edge and when you get up to the junction and the moors that lie above, it feels altogether different in contrast to the valley, much of which is clothed in woodland and braken.

The steep-sided valley edge gives way to miles of bare and largely featureless moorland apart from the occasionally weirdly shaped rocky outcrops that the locals have given names to. At regular intervals you are faced with extravagantly shaped gritstone that has been weathered over many years to produce extraordinary formations. 

Their names reflect what some would say resemble their shape and outline - The Wheel Stones, Salt Cellar, Hurkling Stones and Cakes of Bread. Some have less prosaic names (but are no less striking) including Dovestone Tor and Back Tor (the name of the first Mamnick shirt!). 

The views from the top are certainly worth the effort of scrambling up there, taking in Kinder Scout, Bleaklow and Win Hill to the west as well as down to the reservoirs. It's a fantastic view this time of year. 

We headed east down the valley side, the path turns into a track that leads to Foulstone Farm and onto The Strines. We stopped for a half of pale-ale and a pork-pie in the Strines Inn before taking the footpath off Mortimer Road, cutting through another farm. By this time the sun was setting, silhouetting Win Hill and the wooden pylons. A nice walk that takes 3/4 hours depending on how long you stay in the pub! 


All words and photos by Thom Barnett.


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Alport Castles - The UK's Biggest Landslide

We started our walk at 10am in the Derwert Valley beneath the stone ramparts of the Derwent dam with a cup of tea. Fairholmes car-park apparently has a history of its own, I found this out afterwards after noticing the crumbling foundation of the farm and doing some research when I got home. During the construction of the reservoirs the car-park was a masons’ yard it would have likely reverberated the sounds of workers' cutting and shaping stone for the the dams. 


Leaving the valley our route climbs up through Lockerbrook Coppice. Leaving the trees, the route follows the top edge of the vast Hagg Side spruce plantation, before climbing further to Bellhag Tor. We saw a numbers of British finch and Kestrels' all the way across the top, before getting the first glance of the slips in the area. Having crossed the over the stile onto Rowlee Pastures, here you get the first glimpse of the largest landslip in England and our destination for today’s dinner - cheese and pickle on a white bap, plus a pork pie (Thanks Lulu!).

It is called Alport Castles and you can see why when you are stood on The Tower. You look across at a chaotic jumble of tumbled gritstone boulders and grassy covered mounds; It’s a real spectacle. We ate our sandwiches on The Ridge before climbing down to the path that leads to Alport Castles farm. By this time it has started to rain. 

We followed the track down past the farm and followed the valley, seeing and hearing a number of large Jays’. Although they are classed as vermin, I think they are quite a beautiful bird. By this time the rain was torrential and we were both getting quite wet, but still smiling!

We crossed the A57 Snake Road, followed the track and took the bridge over the ford. We continued on the path past Upper Ashop Farm and followed the grassy road called Blackley Hey. Entering the Pinewoods, it smelt great due to the damp and the light was really atmospheric. This path took us all the way down to Yorkshire Bridge and back to the Lady Bower reservoir - back around our car and home for a cup of tea and a well-deserved bath!

I'd recommend this route for anyone looking for a full-day Yomp, it was 14.5 miles round trip with some really scenic views from the very beginning. There are a number of get-out routes on the A57 if you get into any difficulty.

I'd recommend finishing the walk with a pint in the Lady Bower Inn! 


All words and photos by Thom Barnett

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Pedestrian - a person travelling on foot; walker.

Pedestrianism - The act, art, or practice of a pedestrian; walking or running; travelling or racing on foot.

Pedestrianism was a unique sport which is said to have come from aristocrats in the late 17th century pitting their carriage footmen, constrained to walk by the speed of their masters' carriages, against one another.

This became a firm fixture at country fairs much like horse racing, where pedestrians with support from trainers would grind out gruelling distances of up to a 100 miles per day and night for 6 days. This was over indoor sawdust tracks, getting just a few hours rest per day in makeshift huts beside the track, literally eating on the trot and undergoing tremendous hardships.

In its heyday in the 19th Century where big prize purses, a share of the gate receipts and dazzling ornamental gold belts lured men to put themselves through rigorous training all in the name of sport.

Often referred to as ‘walking matches’ or ‘go as you please’ races these events took place in the big cities of America, the UK and Australasia. Madison Square Garden in NY and the Agricultural Hall in London were just two of the many venues which attracted the best contestants; but to be at the top of their chosen career a competitor had to be tough, very tough!

Sheffield ‘ Peds'

George Littlewood

George was born on 20 March, 1859, in Rawmarsh, Yorkshire, England. This phenomenal athlete, who is already being talked about as probably being the greatest ultra long-distance foot athlete the world has ever seen, was to become a sporting superstar of his day travelling over to America on several occasions, where, at Madison Square Garden, New York, in 1888, he produced a scintillating performance to beat the then current six-day world record of 621¾ miles held by the American, Jimmy Albert, by running another two miles on the 8-lap to the mile sawdust track. The 623¾ miles he made that week that wasn't beaten for 96 years was just one of his amazing achievements; one of which is still being the current owner of the 6-day walking record from 1882!

So what made Littlewood tick and where he did he get his inspiration from?

It was at the age eight that he began showing an aptitude for running whilst chasing the hounds in local hunts. He also excelled in other sports including boxing, wrestling and cricket, but it was in the field of athletics, and, in particular, running, which he displayed a real talent for.

His father Fred, a handy handicap runner himself, knew his son was something "special" and took on the task of training him seriously. The regime he fashioned for him was both daunting and vigorous, and when the boy complained to his dad that his muscles were sore one day, his dad offered him the carrot of a financial reward. "If you can catch me, you can have this halfpenny. If you really want it, you can get it," he told his son. His father set off and the lad went after him. When the boy caught him up and passed him, he was given his prize for his effort. George had proved to himself that he could overcome the pain barrier to reach his goal and that experience would prove valuable for his future career.

Littlewood's dedication to perfection in the art of race walking soon paid off when, at the age of 16, he won his first long distance event and was given a silver cup donated by several Sheffield publicans. A judge at the time said this of the lad as he performed on the track: "He is completely genuine, without any deviation from the strict laws of walking."

Littlewood's preparation during the next four years involved both running and walking over 200 miles a week. He would train by running to Doncaster and back three times a week in a 38-mile round trip. On his arrival in Doncaster, he would call into a local butcher where he would buy mutton which he would run back home to Darnall with. There were reports that he had a food fetish and that his mum used to go to his races and cook for him to see that he ate properly! One of his trainers Fred Bromley said of him: "If you want to raise a lot of steam and power, you must stoke the coals on the fire!”

In November, of 1879, Littlewood starred in his first race as a budding long-distance athlete in a six-day, 72-hour, 12 hours per day, "go-as-you-please" event in which he came in fourth of 28 contestants winning a prize of £4 for scoring 275 miles in the allotted time on a 19-lap to the mile track at Wolverhampton.

He then went Nottingham, in February, of 1880, where, in a 7-day, six hours per night contest, he came in 5th of 19 runners winning £2.

A couple of months later, he went to Leeds where he won his first race in a field of 13 contestants and created a new 12 hours per day, 72-hour world record of 374 miles on an 38-lap to the mile track in a circus rink. For winning, he secured the £35 first prize — plus an extra prize of £10 for beating the record. Littlewood would later remark that this was the greatest race he ever won.

His next event which was his first venture to London, where in September of the same year, and competing in field of 29 at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, he won the Sir John Astley, "Champion Gold Medal" and a prize of £60, which included £10 for beating the then world record of 405 miles.

Now established as an up-and-coming figure in his chosen sport, his connections entered the then 21-year-old into the 6th international version of the Astley Belt — the blue riband 142-hour, six days, "go-as you-please" contest again at the "Aggie". He would be up against the reigning long-distance champion — the formidable Charlie Rowell — a man, who only the year before at Madison Square Garden, New York, had secured phenomenal prize money of $50,000 in two races in that city. During the race, in which he finished as runner-up with a score of 470 miles, George also took on the great "Blower" Brown of Fulham, and some very good American athletes.

Littlewood then went over to the U.S.A. for the first time to compete in the "2nd O'Leary International Belt" contest at Madison Square Garden, in 1881. Although starting the favorite, Littlewood only managed to make 480 miles due to a foot injury.

Then in 1882, between March 6 and 11, Littlewood achieved the unthinkable. Not only did he beat the then 142-hour heel-and-toe world walking record of 530 miles, he still holds it! The 531 miles was made on a 13-lap to the mile track at the Norfolk Drill Hall, Sheffield.

He then competed in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th "Astley Challenge Belt" races. The belt was the prize for winning the 12 hours a day, 72 hours per week version of the "Long-Distance Astley Belt" and the events took place in Birmingham, Sheffield and London between April of 1882 and November of 1884. Littlewood would eventually win the belt outright.

In 1883, he also raced against a horse called Charlie in a 17-mile race from Doncaster to Sheffield. He lost by three quarters of a mile.

After that, and in April of 1885, Littlewood took on Rowell again in the "International Pedestrian Tournament" (won) and then again in February of 1887 in the "International Pedestrian Go-As-You-Please Tournament"; both races being held at the Westminster Aquarium, London.

After those races he went back to America for the second time; firstly to Philadelphia where he annihilated the opposition in November of 1887 in the "Championship of the World Sweepstakes" before returning to New York to compete in his last two races at Madison Square Garden in May and December of the following year, 1888.

The May race saw Littlewood breaking the 600-mile barrier despite running on a raw bone in his foot and when he brought the Fox Diamond Belt back from America to England, they called him "Littlewood the Lionheart”.

In 1966, and referring to his 1888 world record, a physiologist, B. B. Lloyd, writing in Advancement of Science, described Littlewood's feat as "probably about the maximum sustained output of which the human frame is capable".

George Littlewood died on the December 4, 1912. His funeral was attended by 3,000 people.


Peter Crossland - ‘The Sharp Sheffield Blade’ 

Peter worked in Sheffield’s cutlery industry. When he wasn’t working, he was in training or competing as one of the finest heel-and–toe walkers that Britain ever produced.

Peter beat the, then world-champion, Daniel O'Leary, of Chicago, USA, at Manchester's Pomona Gardens in late February 1876 in a 300-mile, £100 a–side sweepstakes in front of thousands of spectators.

Taken from the New York Times dated May the 15th 1879;

“He is of medium height, but of magnificent physique. His shoulders are broad, and his form is perfect. Crossland comes from Sheffi eld, Yorkshire County, England. He brings no trainer with him. He is 40 years old, and began to walk in matches three years ago. Previous to that time he had worked at his trade, a cutler. At the match in the Pomona Palace, in Manchester a walk of 72 hours, he beat O’Leary 19 miles. He walked at that time 120 3/4 miles and 200 yards without a rest. This was September 11 and 12 1876. He has made the best record in England for 242 and 284 miles having made the former in 57:02:37, and the latter in 68:40:19. He has made the best 33, 34, and 35-hour times in England making in 33 hours, 151 miles and 4 laps; in 34 hours, 156 miles and 1 lap, and in 35 hours, 160 miles and 6 laps. Crossland has received the Champion Cup of the Midland Counties in Nottingham, England, for making 322 miles in a six day’s walk of 14 hours a day. He says he comes to this country to walk, not to run.”

Paul Marshall documented the history of Pedestrianism in his book “King of the Peds' and kindly allowed us to share his work.

Further information is available at;



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The Round of Kinder Plateaux

The majority of Yompers leave Edale village by way of Grindsbrook. On the 16th December myself, Andy Mac and Pat took the same path at 0712 and headed up the Pennine Way highway. In winter conditions the hillside of Grindslow Knoll is probably the most popular ski-slope in the Peak District. On this day, skiing would have been possible. 

Our route lie North-West near the head of Crowden Clough. Black ice was underfoot, our speed was probably a-third of normal pace. We looked for and found 'wool packs' or 'The Mushroom Garden' or 'Whipsnade', depending on what you like to call it and then onto Kinder Low - the highest such pillar of the Southern Pennines. The highest upland here is unmarked, it is incidently the highest top in England south of Fountains Fell (Yorkshire Dales).

On the frozen peaty waste of Kinder Low, we could only see about two meters in front of us. Total whiteout. We made our way slowly to Kinder Downfall, a nick point where the Kinder River pours over a corner of the escarpment near the Great Buttress. We watched the climbers go up the frozen waterfall and considered eating our lunch.

This is where the story ends, but I did take my 35mm camera and documented the day. Of course, we had a few pints when we returned to the car in total-darkness some twelve hours later. 

(click on photos to enlarge)

All words and images by Thom Barnett 


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