Walking in Derbyshire
Derbyshire can be best described as consisting of three major sections. These are the southern lowland region, including the county town of Derby, the central Derbyshire Dales, and the northern High Peak region.
The Derbyshire Dales and the High Peak are largely within the boundary of the Peak District National Park. If you are interested in walking in the Peak District National Park go to our National Parks/Peak District section.
Having removed the Peak district National Park area from Derbyshire what is left? Well, not a lot you might say; just the southern and south east regions. But whilst south Derbyshire lacks the rugged grandeur of the High Peak, or the softer beauty of the Dales, much of it is fine walking country with large areas of undulating pastoral scenery through which several rivers meander lazily.
The River Dove flowing south from the Dales swings east in a large arc following the county border and finally joining the River Trent. Further east the River Derwent flows south through Derby, it’s waters also destined to join those of the Trent. The rich deep soil of this area is utilised in growing wheat and barley, much of which is used in the brewing industry based at Burton on Trent. There is much of historic interest in the Derwent Valley, particularly related to the early industrial revolution when the Derwent was an important energy source for mills and clay, coal, iron and stone were all nearby.
The eastern border of the county, south from Heanor is industrialised and has a history of coalmining and is therefore less attractive for walking.
Osmaston is an attractive village with its picture postcard thatched cottages, village pond and photogenic old sawmill. The tower of St Martin's church dominates the approach to the village. The pleasant surrounding countryside makes for enjoyable walks from the village.
A Walk from Osmaston [SK 199439] OS Maps: Explorer™ 259
Leave Osmaston, passing the village pond, and head southeast along a track which descends to the Old Sawmill. After a short climb you continue to descend along a track under trees to reach a peaceful valley. Following the valley westward you will pass a lovely large pond before continuing up the valley to meet a track heading north east which takes you back to Osmaston. About 3.5 miles.
Best Pub for this walk
Shoulder of Mutton, Osmaston Tel: 01335 342371 (Good Pub Guide)
This is a snug and inviting down-to-earth pub offering enjoyable and generous home-made food. There's a wide choice from jacket potatoes, ‘toasties’ and sandwiches to specials such as casseroles and pies.
This walk is fully described in the guidebook 'Drive and Stroll in Derbyshire and the Peak District' by Charles Wildgoose
Matlock is a Victorian spa town set in the Derwent valley and now a very popular tourist destination in summer. Above the town are the famous 'Heights of Abraham' at 250m, named, so the story goes, because of their resemblance to the heights scaled during the capture of Quebec by General Wolfe. The Derwent gorge south of the town has dramatic crags and a fine view of Riber Castle on top of High Tor. It was the cloth manufacturer John Smedley, builder of Riber Castle, who first promoted hydropathy (water therapies) in Matlock. There are several paths to Riber Castle from Matlock.
Derbyshire Greenway Trails
Derbyshire County Council have developed and manage a series of trails in large part designed around old railway lines, tramways and collieries. They allow easy access to some outstanding countryside and provide excellent walking for families. This is part of a greenways project which is being created to provide a traffic free network for walkers and cyclist throughout the county. Serious hillwalkers need not read on.
The Phoenix Greenways are a network of trails that run through Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. They are part of the greenways project and allow you to easily explore on foot some beautiful countryside. An overview map of the network can be viewed here. The following trails are part of this network
The Blackwell Trail is a short trail for walkers, cyclists and horse riders just 1.5 miles in length. This short trail has footpath links to Brierley Forest Park and nearby Blackwell Village.
The grassland areas alongside the trail are being managed to increase their diversity. At different times of the year you may see St. John's-wort, field scabious and knapweed. The wet areas alongside the Normanton Brook are great habitat for water voles and on springtime evenings you may hear the mating calls of frogs and toads.
The trail begins close to South Normanton in Hilcote Village on the B6406. There is a small car park on New Street next to Hilcoe Miners Welfare and Community Centre (OS grid ref SK 452 577).
Five Pits Trail
The Five Pits Trail is another part of the Phoenix Greenways. It has hard surfacing and is suitable for walkers, pushchairs, cyclists and horse riders. The route takes you from Grassmoor Country Park (OS grid reference SK 411 672) to Tibshelf Ponds (OS grid ref SK 439 608), a distance of 5.5 miles. The route passes Williamthorpe Ponds local nature reserve and Holmewood Woodlands. There are car parks at various points along the trail.
The trail will be of particular interest to anyone curious about industrial heritage and there are some information boards along the way to explain features. The trail mainly follows the old route of the Great Central Railway and since the five collieries along the railway closed, the landscape has improved dramatically. Parts of the land were opencast and most of the original railway line removed.
The Silverhill Trail offers great opportunities for walking. It was developed on a former mineral railway that once served Silverhill Colliery. Now you can use it to enjoy the splendid scenery of woodland, wetland and open countryside. The Trail connects the Five Pits Trail at Tibshelf Ponds across the county boundary and joins the Pleasley Trail network at Teversal in Nottinghamshire (OS grid reference SK 479 621).
You will find the Silverhill Trail between the villages of Tibshelf and Huthwaite. There is parking for cars at Tibshelf Ponds, Brierley Forest Park (OS grid reference SK 472 595) and Teversal.
The trails provide important wildlife corridors linking countryside sites. Grassland edges are great habitat for insects, which in turn attract small mammals and birds. You may see a kestrel soaring above looking for a tasty meal. In spring and summer there are wildflowers along the trail edges which also attract butterflies and dragonflies.
More information about the Derbyshire Greenways can be found at
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