Baslow, Derbyshire Sunday 30th July 2017

Today’s Walk

Strenuous Leader : Rowland Nock   Distance : 10.00 miles

This walk meanders along the magnificent gritstone escarpments of Baslow, Curbar and Froggatt Edges giving fantastic views of the area & an ideal place to have lunch. This will mean an initial ascent of approximately 250 metres (800ft) from Baslow.
Heading round south west we negotiate the beautifully tranquil Hay Wood (plenty of elves here he he!). Please bear in mind there are a few squelchy bits but most have boardwalks so hopefully it won’t be too bad. On escaping from the Wood we wander down to Froggatt Bridge and then basically head south following the River Derwent via Calvar back to Baslow where tea & tiffin beckons.

Moderate Leader : Peter Denton   Distance : 7.00 miles

We start our walk with a climb out of the town heading up for Curbar Edge. We are not intending to climb to the top. We will go through Bee Wood. (I didn’t see any bees). We then head down to the river Derwent and Froggatt’s Bridge. From there we head back along the river to Baslow for tea and tiffin or a pint, and a look around with an ice-cream. Mummm Rum and Raisin! Happy Rambling.

Leisurely Leader : Jackie Gudgeon   Distance 7.00 miles

We leave the coach park to enter the Chatsworth Estate via a ‘wheelchair’ gate, soon sloping across field to reach a main drive along to Chatsworth House. From here we follow good tracks up into the woodland, zig-zagging up until we reach a gate out onto the moorland at Park Farm. Down a rugged path through trees and bracken to reach Beeley Hilltop, followed by a stretch of quiet lane downhill to arrive at Beeley Lodge. Here there is a very short stretch of road until we turn off once again into the Chatsworth Estate to follow a delightful path along the River Derwent with views unfolding over the parkland to Chatsworth House. After the House we continue along a good path to return to Baslow. All good underfoot except for one tricky downhill path which we can take slowly with great care!

Easy Leader : Dave Hatchard   Distance : 4-5 miles

A pleasant walk from Baslow to Chatsworth House, crossing the bridge here to Edensor (pronounced Enzor) where, weather permitting, we have the perfect spot for lunch. When we tire of looking at the views we will cross over the river again and we can access the gardens, cafe shops and toilets of Chatsworth. Depending on time, we can spend some time looking around here before setting off back to Baslow.
If the group all are in favour we can have nice tea/ coffee before we start the walk in the café by the coach park.

Notes On The Area

Baslow is a busy little village in the Derwent valley with Chatsworth a mile to the south and Baslow Edge to the north of the village. The three settlements of Bridge End, Nether End and Over End which make up the village of Baslow have changed little since the middle of the nineteenth century. Bridge End was the original village, but Nether End grew with Chatsworth when in 1823 it became the northern entrance to the estate, while residential development in the late nineteenth century is centred at Over End on the hillside opposite. Parts of the church, St Anne’s, dates back to 1200.

At one time Baslow had hoped to be as grand as nearby Bakewell, which is on the opposite side of Chatsworth, and a Hydro was built in 1881, but it never became established as a spa. As the building needed a great deal of money spending on it after the First World War, which never happened, the Hydro was demolished in the 1930’s. The old bridge in Baslow built in 1603 is the oldest bridge in the Derwent Valley never to be destroyed by flooding.

The magnificent mansion of Chatsworth House is principally the creation of the first Duke of Devonshire who, between 1686 and 1707, practically rebuilt the original house piecemeal and, also built the great cascade in the woods. The first house on this site was built in 1552 by Sir William Cavendish and his celebrated wife Bess of Hardwick. The fourth Duke had the grounds extensively remodelled under the direction of Capability Brown. Brown altered much of the view from the front of the mansion. He removed a lot of the woodland to make the view more extensive and diverted the river and created the approach to the house. that we see today. The sixth Duke added the famous Emperor Fountain which throws a jet of water 290 ft (90 m) into the air and, when built, was the second highest fountain in the world. The past Dukes of Devonshire and their families lie in a quiet corner of the churchyard of St Peter’s at Edensor (Enzor), but visitors come here to visit another grave, that of Kathleen Kennedy, sister of the President John F. Kennedy and who was married to one of the Devonshires. JFK’s visit on 29th June 1963 is commemorated on a plaque in front of the grave.

To the north and east of Baslow the Bar Brook cuts a nick in the dramatic gritstone scarp, with Baslow Edge on one side and Birchen Edge on the other. A sea of bracken laps the footings of the rock faces, whilst the moorland above the edge is a wilderness of heather and the home of merlin and grouse. It was once the home of farmers too, in the Bronze Age when the climate was a little kinder. It is astonishing to find field systems still visible from more than 3,000 years ago. Below Baslow Bar, just out of Nether End, it is also possible to see narrow fields separated by drystone walls that follow the old reverse-S pattern, the sign of ox-ploughing in medieval times.

Baslow Edge was quarried for gritstone and on the brow of Baslow Edge stands the Eagle Stone, a great weathered block of hardened gritstone. Climbing to the top of the stone used to be a test of character for village youths before they married. Not far away is the Wellington Monument erected in 1866 by Dr Wrench, who sounds like a character out of a Dickens novel, and was also responsible for the replacement of the numerals on the face of St Anne’s Church clock with ‘Victoria 1897’.