This is a fine long circular walk which starts and ends in the pretty village of Bradfield, not far from Sheffield. The walk takes an ancient bridleway which leads right up onto Derwent Edge, follows the watershed south, and then returns via another old bridleway which was once one of the major routes over to the Upper Derwent valley.
Start from the car park which lies along Sandy Lane, behind the cricket ground in Lower Bradfield. Walk along Sandy Lane (which can be a muddy track) to the stream and turn left to head upstream a short distance. Cross the footbridge and head up the steep bank on the opposite side, following the path which leads uphill towards High Bradfield. This takes you across a small road and uphill over the fields to eventually reach a stile at the west end of the churchyard.
Turn left (west) to join a path which has come behind the church and which heads out towards Bailey Hill, the site of the Norman castle here. Where the path enters the trees, a right branch leads to the Bailey, which still impresses after all these years. However, the main path continues on into the woods, gradually descending before turning sharply downhill at emerge at a stream.
Turn left and cross the stream almost immediately to follow an old cart track enclosed by walls on either side. Continue until the track enters the woods at a small gate - turn right here and head sharply uphill for 30 metres before turning through a stone gateway and picking up a path which continues north-west across the fields below the cliffs of Agden Rocher.
The path passes an old barn and eventually crosses a small road. Continue straight on across the fields until you emerge on another small road, and this time continue along it, still heading about north-west. You soon meet the Strines - Midhopestones road, just below a large house known as Agden Lodge. Turn right up the hill and follow the road for about half a kilometre to come out at the top of the rise at an area know as Smallfield, where there is an ancient earthwork and enclosures.
From here the Bradfield path leads off across the moors. It is an old bridleway and one of the old routes into the Upper Derwent. It's also a fine wide track with grand views across to the Loxley reservoirs and Stanage Edge to the south, the Stocksbridge and Penistone area to the north and glimpses of Sheffield to the east. Follow the track easily right up onto the crest of Derwent Edge, a distance of about 6 kilometres from Smallfield.
The top of the Bradfield Path
You arrive on the watershed where several paths meet at a spot marked by a stake. Ahead, a path drops down to the stream (Abbey Brook) and follows it down into the Derwent Valley. To the left another, rather indistinct path heads south along the Derwent Watershed to Back Tor. To the right another, even more indistinct path, which is not marked on the maps, continues north along the watershed.
Turn left and head almost exactly due south to pick up the path to Back Tor. This is fairly hard going and not always easy to follow, but generally takes the line of the watershed, starting a little to the west of the crest and ending up slightly to its east, before climbing back up to Back Tor, which is about 3.5 kilometres from the path junction. This is a wild place in bad weather with tricky routefinding, boggy paths and lots of deep heather if you stray off route.
Back Tor is an impressive jumble of rocks and a fine place from which to view the valley of the Upper Derwent - if you can see it, that is! However, the path is mostly paved from here and the route-finding becomes easier.
Back Tor, Derwent Edge
From Back Tor continue south along the watershed for a short distance, but after only about 300 metres you arrive at another path junction where the Foulstone Delph path crosses from Strines into the Derwent Valley. Like the Bradfield path, this is one of the old bridleways across to the Upper Derwent, and is a wide, well-trodden track. Turn left and follow it downhill across the moors and into the woods to emerge on the Strines - Midhopestones road again, this time just to the north of the Strines Inn, which lies about 300 metres distant.
You may wish to visit the inn but our route turns left and follows the road for about 800 metres, before heading off downhill along a farm track which leads directly down to Strines reservoir. Follow the track down to the dam and then take a path which turns below the dam to cross the river by a small footbridge at the head of Dale Dike reservoir. This path then makes a gradually rising traverse across the hillside to meet a single track road which leads you back to Bradfield after a further two kilometres.