Bretton and Abney Circuit


Route Info
walk mapDifficulty level: 3  (1 to 5 scale - 1 is easy)
Distance: 10.00 km    Ascent: 250m
Estimated time: 3:00 hours
Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 map sheet(s): 110/119
The Outdoor Leisure Map 1 - Dark Peak & Outdoor Leisure 24 - White Peak 1:25000 scale
map covers this walk also

This walk is approximately 10 kilometres over a mixture of gritstone moorland and deep valleys, starting and finishing at the Barrel Inn in Bretton, a spectacular viewpoint overlooking Foolow and Wardlow Mires.

Start from near the pub, which is dated 1537 and is a nice place for a drink or lunch on a sunny day. Walk for about 1 kilometre west along the narrow road which takes the crest of the ridge until a path comes up steeply on the left from Foolow, and there is a stile in the right wall. Go over this stile and down a very steep descent to a small footbridge over Bretton Brook. Continue along the path, which goes uphill nearly as steeply as it descended, and over a stile to emerge on a narrow road near to Abney Grange farm.

The Barrel Inn, Bretton
The Barrel Inn, Bretton
Turn left and head across the Y of the road junction to a stile opposite with a commemorative seat just beyond it. Cross the stile onto the open moorland of Abney Moor on an undulating path in a fine situation. After about 1.5 kilometres you reach a stile and a cart track. Turn right over the stile and follow the track for nearly 1 kilometre until it makes a sharp left turn. Turn right here along a path across Shatton Moor, on the uphill side of a stone wall. Follow the wall for nearly 1km until it takes a sharp turn downhill, and then strike off across the moorland, often amongst tall bracken, heading for Oak Farm which you can see in the distance.

The large tree at Oak Farm is a sycamore, but never mind - take a stile across a fence just below the farm and follow the track below to eventually join the narrow road which leads up to Abney. Cross the road and another stile to take a diagonal line across the field below. A further stile leads to a tree-covered path which emerges at a small footbridge across Highlow Brook - this is known as Stokes Ford.

View to Abney from Bretton Edge
View to Abney from Bretton Edge
This is the low point of the walk - it's all uphill from here and it's a long climb back to Bretton. Maybe the thought of the pub will be sufficient spur! Take the deep-cut zig-zag track which climbs directly up the hillside - this is part of a very old path from Bretton across to Hathersage. Above the zig-zags the vista opens out, and the track follows an escarpment in a fine situation high above Bretton Clough. Eventually it turns left and across a stile into the open moorland of Eyam moor.

From here there are several possible routes. The main path turns right and follows the wall steadily uphill past a wood, to reach a gate and stile in the wall. It then crosses the wall and follows a broad track across fields to eventually reach a stile and a crossroads. Straight on leads to the road from whence a right turn leads directly back to the Barrel Inn. Right takes a cart track round the back of Bretton and a rather more circuitous route back to the Inn to complete the walk.

A slightly longer alternative from the edge of Eyam Moor is to head directly up the hillside on a rather faint path which emerges just to the east of the summit of Sir William Hill with its TV mast. This is a fine viewpoint, and if you turn right along the track it leads directly back to Bretton.

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Bretton - the Barrel Inn
0 - Bretton - the Barrel Inn
Abney Grange - a typical hill farm
1 - Abney Grange - a typical hill farm
Bretton Clough and Abney Low view
2 - Bretton Clough and Abney Low view