Autumn Weekend in Ashbourne (Derbyshire)

Following on from the success of our previous weekend in Darwin Forest we booked lodges at Sandybrook Park in Ashbourne. On the Friday afternoon we settled into our lodges and prioritised party plans for the weekend to celebrate birthdays.

Our orientation walk was via the Tissington trail to Ashbourne. We arrived at St Oswald’s church dating back to 1240 and home to many artefacts about local history. We were lucky enough to be shown around by the vicar who was happy to expand on the churches’ historical significance.

We were greeted on Saturday with rain which had been falling for most of the night. However, after our soggy start the sun came out and we were lucky to have a dry day. The Hikers met up with Hilary’s sister Janet from the Nomads walking club who led our walk from Illam, to Thorpe. We crossed the river Dove via Stepping Stones and had morning tea and cakes at Illam YHA based in a 17th Century Manor house on the beautiful Illam estate. Our lunch at Aston Feld was followed by a tea stop thoughtfully provided for visitors by its Parishioners in their church.

On Saturday, the Strollers had an inauspicious start with a damp walk alongside a busy road to Fenny Bentley. However things improved when we caught the bus to Alsop Station from where we walked down to Milldale. There we had some welcome refreshments at the ‘Hatch’ surrounded by numerous ducks looking for titbits. Our walk continued alongside the River Dove to the start of Dovedale. We then passed the attractions of Reynard’s Cave, the Tissington Spires and Lovers Leap before reaching the famous Stepping Stones. We didn’t cross them but instead headed up Lindale to the village of Thorpe and its excellent Old Dog pub. After a fine lunch, we joined the Tissington Trail for a couple of miles back to our accommodation at Sandybrook for a well-earned rest.

Our evening meal was at the Bentley Brooke Pub in Fenny Bentley where we had a room to ourselves and very efficient service.

On Sunday the Hikers met up with The Nomads walking group who led us on a circular walk through local villages and farmland bordering Staffordshire. The walk was slightly marred by a very noisy motorbike race track which happened to be in use that day. The Nomads very kindly gave us lifts back to Sandybrook for us to be in time for our next lodge party of the weekend, followed by a great meal at the Coach House restaurant on the same site.

On Sunday, the Strollers still had a busy road to start with, but a much shorter stretch and the weather was considerably better. We branched off up a steep hill to a pleasant caravan park and then downhill through fields to the village of Mapleton or Mappleton depending on which map one looked at! The landlady at the Oakeover Arms pub kindly provided us with coffee before we headed off on a circular route past Oakeover Hall and through its extensive park. En route we passed through a couple of fields with ‘Mind the Bull’ signs and sensibly kept our distance with those of our number with red clothing! After lunch in the pub, some of the party retraced their steps back to Sunnybrook while the rest took the easy option of a taxi.

On Monday the Hikers went along the Tissington Trail to the very quaint village of Tissington where we follow a circular route identifying the six wells. The village is part of the Tissington estate, Gillian, Stuart and Pam had a chat to the Baronet of Tissington Hall as he popped into the Tea Shop!  The Strollers went into Ashbourne.  The whole group returned to London with Danny following a very busy weekend walking in the beautiful southern peaks of Derbyshire.

Many thanks to my sister Janet and the Nomads walking group for taking us on walks that ensured that we saw many of the highlights of the Peak district. A big thank you to Danny for leading on the strollers walks and identifying some very good Real Ale pubs along the route!

Hilary and Danny