Peak District walk around Chatsworth Park and Beeley Edge, Derbyshire
This short walk starts from Calton Lees at the south end of the park, goes past the house and up the hill behind, and returns via Beeley edge (7km). A diversion over Beeley Moor is also described.
Many thousands of people visit Chatsworth each year, but many of them never enter the house or its gardens. This is because it is quite possible to enjoy Chatsworth simply by walking around the park, an activity which is perhaps best done in winter when the area is less crowded and the house is in any case closed.
This short walk starts from Calton Lees car park at the south end of the park, goes past the house and up the hill behind, where you obtain an excellent view of the whole setting, and returns via Beeley edge (7km). If you want to lengthen the walk or are interested in wildlife or archaeology then a diversion over Beeley Moor is also described, which lengthens the walk to about 11km.
From the car park walk over the cattle grid into the park and cross the road to take a path which heads directly across the fields to the house, a distance of approximately 2 kilometres. The setting is very fine, with the Derwent below you and the house ahead, while flocks of sheep and deer roam the park around you. There is no particular path - simply make for the bridge over the river in front of the house by whichever route you please.
Pass across the cattle grid and into the wood, following the road as it curves around to the right. About 300 metres above the cattle grid you should see a path climbing off left into the woods and signposted to 'The Dell'. Take this path, which climbs steeply uphill, zigzagging beneath the mock aqueduct which conveys water to the cascade in the gardens below. You eventually emerge at 'The Dell', a spot by an artificial waterfall on the crest of the edge overlooking the house. The view of the house is very impressive - best viewed in winter when the trees are without their leaves.
Retracing you steps towards the Dell, you will see tracks going off to the east (left) - one not far from the Huntingtower and another just before you arrive back at the Dell. These take you to the Emperor Lake, built by the 6th Duke to provide the water for the Emperor fountain which rises to a height of 300 feet in front of the house. However, the main interest for the visitor is the wildfowl which live on the lake - notably geese, swans and coots.
Returning to the Dell, the route now takes us southwards along the edge which overlooks the park below. A choice of paths is available for you can either follow the land-rover track which runs a little way back from the edge, or take a smaller footpath through the woods which clings almost to the edge itself. Either way, after a distance of about 700 metres you meet the metaled road which you started on by the stables as it zigzags its way up the hillside. Turn left and follow it until it comes to a crossing of paths after about 200 metres. Turn right here and after another 100 metres you leave the wood and emerge onto Beeley Moor.
A wide track leads along a small edge on the fringe of the moor, heading approximately southeast. After only 200 metres a branch turns off to the right and descends to a small road by Beeley Hilltop farm. The quickest way back is to follow this path and then on down the road to arrive at the bridge just opposite Calton Lees. Alternatively, a diversion to the pretty village of Beeley is possible by crossing the road and taking the footpath which passes through the top of the farmyard and then across the fields to Beeley. From Beeley return to Calton Lees by following the path across the field by the Derwent - this starts opposite the parish church.
However, Beeley Moor is an interesting place in its own right and worth a further look, if you have time and the energy. The moor is a wildlife sanctuary and is home to a range of birds, so in spring or early summer you can see Curlews and Skylarks here, for example. It is also dotted with Bronze Age monuments, for the climate was warmer and drier in that period and this area was thickly inhabited.
To visit the moor, follow the track out of the woods for about a kilometre. Then a sign marks a path which branches left towards Open Country and Harland Edge at the top of the moor. Notice just on the other side of the path a low ring of earth which is a Bronze Age enclosure, while about 200 metres to the east there is a fairly well-preserved stone circle. Follow the path, which crosses a section of moor to the edge of a wood, and then along the wood edge onto Harland Edge. Note that this is a protected area for wildlife and you should not stray from the path or you will disturb their habitat - dogs are a particular problem in this respect.
At the crest of the hill you meet an old packhorse track which comes across the moor, and just to the right lies Hob Hurst's House. This burial mound was one of the first in the area to be scheduled as an ancient monument and was excavated by Thomas Bateman in 1853. Unfortunately little is known about it, but it is unusual both in that it is quite well preserved and that it is square, whereas most burial mounds are round. You can see why this spot was chosen, for the view is splendid, situated as it is on the watershed between Chesterfield and the Derwent valley.
To return you must retrace your steps along the edge of the wood and then take a footpath which branches off left, signposted to Beeley. This arrives at the unmade road which comes up beneath the moor just at the point where it crosses Beeley Brook. Cross the brook and take the path which descends into the trees on the right. The path follows the brook down to Beeley village and you can return to Calton Lees via the path across the fields by the Derwent.
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