Walk 5: Middleton to Bakewell via Bradford and Lathkill Dales


Conksbury Bridge

An easy walk through the tranquil and lovely Bradford and Lathkill Dales, with plenty of paddling spots; then up a steep hill and through the village of Over Haddon and descending over the fields to Bakewell. 9.5km or 6 miles, about 3 hours. This is a walk with several variations; it can be made shorter by starting at Youlgreave or shorter still by starting at Alport, and there is an alternative route from Over Haddon down into Bakewell. See the notes later on for descriptions of these.

ADDITIONAL INFO:. Starting at Youlgreave to shorten the walk (or taking a diversion from the main route) will give you a chance to see All Saints church, widely admired as one of the most impressive in Derbyshire. Parts of it date from about 1300, and while it has been rebuilt in places this has been carried out with care and sympathy.

If starting from Youlgreave, there are two possible routes. One is to go down Bradford Road, which runs past the side of the church (you can walk through the churchyard if you got off the bus just before it), then, where the road forks, go to the left and further along take the signposted bridleway (which starts from the same place as a public footpath). The bridleway runs to the left of Braemar House and down to a low arched bridge; cross that and turn left onto the track, following this to the main road at Alport. Then follow the walking instructions from step 3 – this will make the walk about 7.5km or 4.5 miles. Alteratively, go down Holywell Lane (by the bus stop and just after the Youth Hostel) and follow it to the river Bradford. Turn left through a gate, so that the river is on your right. Then follow the instructions from step 2; this will be slightly longer, about 8km or 5 miles.

To start at Alport, which makes the walk about 6.5km or 4 miles, walk forwards from the bus stop for 50 metres, then follow the instructions from step 3.

The alternative route from Over Haddon is quieter near Bakewell and finishes closer to the town centre, but there is one point which can be quite muddy and, if it has been wet, have standing water; cattle converge there as well, so, in anything but the driest weather, good boots are essential. To follow this alternative, at step 7 of the original description, go to The Lathkill Hotel and follow the route below from there.

At the top of the road past the Lathkill Hotel, where the road turns left, cross the stile straight ahead of you and take the left track across the field to the waymarker. Keep heading in the same direction over another 2 stiles and a gate until you reach a lane, turn right down it to a T-junction (opposite Noton Barn Farm). Turn left and walk about 100 metres along the road to a public footpath marker and gate (ignore the first gate you pass); take the footpath.  Where it forks, take the path heading left across the field – in summer this is filled with wild flowers. Go through 2 gates and a couple of gaps, keeping to the main track. Eventually the footpath ends up between 2 stone walls which lead past a cemetery to a church and road. Keep straight on the road past 2 churches, then, at the T-Junction, turn right down the walled footpath, Head downhill and you will come to a T-Junction – turn right and follow the road down into Bakewell town centre.

Rather strangely, even in the wettest weather stretches of both the Bradford and Lathkill rivers can be completely dry, while elsewhere other parts are in full flow. Opinions differ as to why this happens, but it is very likely connected with the large number of mine workings into which the rivers drain, only to re-emerge further down their course. They are both home to a fair variety of water birds; as well as the usual mallards, coots, moorhens (which are smaller, but if you can’t remember which is which, just call them both ‘moots’), swans and so forth, you may see dippers, which feed by walking on the river bottom, using the flow of water to keep them submerged; also herons, tufted ducks, little grebes, grey wagtails and others. Best of all, if you’re lucky, the halcyon, or kingfisher as it is now commonly called.

The wonderful old Conksbury packhorse bridge is named after the nearby but now vanished village of the same name; it was abandoned when the mines in the dales stopped being productive. Estimates as to it’s age vary between 18th century and medieval, which could make it several hundred years older.carfree