A 6.5 mile walk through one of the less visited dales in the heart of the White Peak.
Starting from Tideswell, take the footpath between houses on Sherwood Road that climbs up into rolling filed full of sheep and dry stone walls. The path crosses several fields until you reach a track marked for the Limestone Way. Turn right and follow the track for 400 yards until you reach the road.
Turn left and follow the road steeply downhill until you reach the valley bottom. You are now at the top of Monk’s Dale. Take the footpath on the left that follows the valley floor, and head towards the woods.
The woods of Monk’s Dale are a mystical place, completely covered with verdant green mosses and lichens. The damp micro-climate almost makes you feel like you are in a rainforest. It’s other-worldly atmosphere is enhanced by the lack of other walkers, as most seem to head to more famous dales nearby. The path is fairly tough going and progress is slow, with lots of slippery stones and rocks making it ankle-sapping.
After a mile or so you emerge from the woods into a classic U-shaped White Peak dale, with steep sides and the fast moving stream at it’s base. The path now becomes much easier, but the valley is equally picturesque. Continue along the path until you cross the stream on a narrow footbridge, then it climbs up the other side for you to leave Monk’s Dale. You appear almost on top of the church. Descend the narrow steps to reach the road, then turn right and follow the road under the impressive Miller’s Dale viaduct.
When you reach the road junction signed for Wormhill turn right and climb up the steps to reach the old Miller’s Dale railway station. This huge old station is now a car park and visitor centre, and if you are lucky the Ice Cream van will also be there.
Follow the old railway line Eastbound for around a mile until you see a signed footpath crossing it. Turn left and descend the muddy steps to a footbridge across the river. Follow the quiet backroad East, past the Ravenstor Youth Hostel, until you reach a small car park. Turn left here and take the footpath up Tideswell Dale. The path gradually ascends through a park with some curious wood sculptures and then through a field until you get to the outskirts of Tideswell. Here you join the main road to come back into Tideswell, where you can try out one of several tea shops and visit the “Cathedral of the Peaks”.
Probably one of the most iconic walks in England, this seven and a half mile circular walk provides excellent views across the White and Dark Peak divide.
Starting from Castleton itself, go past the church and take the narrow path into Cave Dale. This spectacular deep dale (which is also the start of the Limestone Way) climbs sharply up, the path a rugged mix of stone and mud. The steep sides of the dale give it an overbearing atmosphere, which is enhanced by the sight of Peveril Castle sitting at the top of the cliffs to the right. After nearly a mile the path flattens out and you enter a more typical White Peak scene of sheep in fields surrounded by continuous stone walls.
Having passed over a stone stile, follow the tarmac track past a farmhouse as you head directly towards the imposing figure of Mam Tor. You cross a couple of roads before starting your ascent of the steep pathway to the top of the “Mother hill”. The stone steps lead through the old Iron Age ditches all the way up to the Trig point that marks the summit.
From here you follow the ridge, the stone paving that lines the route a necessary reinforcement of one of the most walked paths in the country. The path traverses Hollins Cross and Back Tor until eventually reaching the conical top of Lose Hill. At the summit the path turns 90 degrees to the right and starts to descend back towards Castleton.
Drop down the slope towards Losehill Farm, using styles to cross a couple of stone walls. After the farm the path follows a metalled track to Spring House Farm. From here take the track that contours along the valley side to Losehill Hall. Don’t follow the track when it turns left but continue straight ahead along a soggy footpath. This emerges into another track that reaches a outdoor pursuits centre before curving left and returning to Castleton along Hollowford Road.
This is a perfect Peak District day walk, suitable for almost any season or weather. Having done this route in thick fog, snow showers and glorious sunshine, I can honestly say that I enjoyed it every time.
Any Asterix fan will tell you that a menhir is an ancient standing stone. Whilst they are spread all across France, there is a curious concentration of them in the northern Cevennes and this walk takes in many of them.
The “Balade au pays des Menhirs” is a 3.5 mile circular walk in the Lozere department in southern France. It takes about two hours to complete the loop, but you will travel back in time through Millennia.
The walk starts from a signed car park on the road from Le Pont de Montvert to Mende. From here you cross a couple of fields, then turn left and follow a farm track with hedges on either side as you descent downhill into dense pine forests. Almost as soon as you enter the woods you start to see menhirs, standing upright in small clearings in the forest. Modern man has worked around these ancient landmarks, leaving them untouched over thousands of years.
The track continues to descent until you emerge into rolling farmland, with a wide vista of the resplendent Gorges du Tarn opening out before you. After 2 miles you reach the tiny hamlet of Combettes, which provides the pretty rustic idil that seems to typify rural France. As you enter the hamlet, a small building on your left (which is actually an old bread oven) houses a permanent exhibition on “Mont Lozere before history”. (continue reading…)
This has to be one of the most interestingly named walks I’ve ever done. It is a 7 mile woodland walk in the heart of Norfolk, taking in a disused railway line and a mix of wooded trails.
The walk starts from the Great Eastern Pingo Trail car park on the A1075 at Stow Bedon. From the car park the first part of the trail follows the old railway line. As you walk along you can see how wet and marshy the surrounding woods are. After one mile you reach a crossroads, where you continue along the old railway line passing the ruins of the old railway keepers cottage.
After another two miles you will enter a cutting, with the embankments rising up either side of the old line. Just before a road bridge over the line, follow a set of wooden steps up to the right. This path takes you to a minor road, which we follow for a short way. When you reach a fork, take the right track (marked as a no through road). The tall pine forest soon gives way to farmland, although the area to the left of the track is actually Stanford Firing Range. Originally cleared during the Second World War, the “temporarily” evacuated Stanford village has never been returned to normal use. You will see glimses of Thompson Water through the hedge on your right, and shortly afterwards a path to the right going behing the lake. (continue reading…)
A relaxing six and a half mile walk along the River Cam, from Waterbeach to the centre of Cambridge.Starting from Waterbeach railway station, cross the level crossing away from the village and take the path through the car park on the right hand side of the road. The path follows the road for a short way until you reach Cow Hollow Wood.
Turn right and follow the path through the centre of the wood. Go through the gate at the other end and follow the path straight on until you reach the river. From here you turn right and follow the river bank towards Cambridge.
This six mile cirular walk takes you through some of the best Cambridgeshire countryside, including part of the Ouse Valley Way.
We start in the centre of Hemmingford Abbotts, next to the Axe and Compass pub. From here, follow the quiet road of Common Lane for approximately a third of a mile until you see a public footpath signpost on your right for “Houghton”. Take this path (down Meadow Lane) and cross the bridge to enter the meadow. Follow the path across the meadow until you reach a small gate and footbridge, next to the river lock at Houghton.
The path continues around a small island until you come out at Houghton Mill. Go through the passage at the mill, and then carry on across the car park. Follow the left hand side of the field until you come to a gate with a sign for the Ouse Valley Way. Turn immediately right after the gate and follow this alleyway for 200 metres until it ends. Turn left for 20 metres then right to continue along the Ouse Valley Way. The path now continues for nearly two miles, past “The Thickett” until you emerge at the back of a Scout hut.
Tucked away in the northern edge of the Cotswolds, this formal garden has a variety separate gardens to suit most tastes.
The resting place of Henry VIII’s wife Katherine Parr, Sudeley Castle is set on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment just above the village of Winchcombe. Split into numerous distinctive individual gardens, it feels like visiting multiple different gardens in quick succession. And the gardens are also home to St Mary’s Church, where Katherine Parr’s body lies.
“The Queen’s Garden” is quite a large formal rose garden, with yew hedges surrounding several rose beds. (continue reading…)
This circular 6.5 mile walk through West Suffolk gives you quintessential English countryside and postcard-perfect villages. Taking in the villages of Gazeley, Dalham and Moulton, the rolling fields are separated by thatched cottages and three beautiful churches.
Start from the village of Gazeley, where there is roadside parking near the church. Take Higham Road (opposite the church entrance) and follow the path that veers off the the right (signposted for the Icknield Way). This path winds through Tithe Close until you go through a small alleyway to reach a gate that opens into a field. Follow the signed path across the fields until you reach a small wood. THe path then ducks into the wood – continue until you reach a crossroads at the far end.
A six mile circular walk, taking in the cliffs of Beachy head with the quiet country tracks of deepest Sussex.
The walk starts at East Dean, either at the Village Hall car park or the adjoining bus stop. From here take the road up to the A259. Cross the road and turn right, going up the hill for 200 metres until a track veers off to the left. Follow this track, which starts of as a driveway to several houses on the left but soon reduces to a grass track through a chalk down. The track gradually climbs until after about a mile you emerge from a hollow to find yourself in the middle of Eastbourne Downs Golf Course.
Turn right and once again cross the A259. The track on the opposite side is slightly to your right, and goes over the brow of a hill to a trig point. From here you have views across the heathland, with ancient woods and the town of Eastborne below you. Bear right at the pond, and follow the track to slowly descend towards the small road junction for Birling Gap. Cross the road, keeping to the seaward side, and continue along the path until you eventualy join the South Downs Way that tracks the coast. If you want a break, you can stop for lunch at The Beachy Head Inn or stop at the Beachy Head visitors centre.
A beautiful and easy 9 mile walk along the Kennet and Avon canal from the centre of Bath to Bradford upon Avon.
Starting from Bath railway station, turn right out of the main entrance and go through the underpass beneath the station. This comes round to a footbridge that crosses the River Avon. Go across the bridge and turn left, following the road until it crosses the canal. Turn right onto the canal towpath and go up past a couple of locks. As the path levels out and you start to go past the backs of houses you catch glimses of the historic centre of Bath across the valley.
The rest of the route follows the tow-path, so it’s very easy to follow. Although it is all along the canal, the character of the walk evolves as you progress. Starting out you feel you are sneaking through the back streets of Bath, seeing a side of the City that many visitors miss. You go through a tunnel underneath an impressive house that straddles the canal, and after a short way emerge from the City to suddenly find yourself in the countryside. (continue reading…)