Eyam – 2nd June 2019

Strenuous Leader: Rob Rose                                           Distance: 10.00 miles

From Eyam we pass Riley Graves then down fields to the River Derwent at Froggatt Bridge. We then follow the Derwent Valley Heritage Way along Spooner Way as far as Grindleford.  Next, we follow the Sir William Hill Road turning off a quiet lane to Leam from where we cross Eyam Moor to once again join the Sir William Hill Road, down Edge Road and back into Eyam at Town End passing one of the plague stones.

Moderate Leader: Dave Hatchard                                         Distance: 7.00 miles

We start with a climb up the nook to the top, we then go right for about 250 yards and go over a stile into a field. We exit the field, cross over William Hill Road and head towards Gotherage Plantation. Then we turn right to head back towards William Hill Road and make our way to Mompessons Well. Next, we make our way to Riley Graves. We then head towards Stoney Middleton as we head back and pass Lyndgate Graves. We travel along fields roads paths and woods about 4 stiles and around 7 miles.

Leisurely Leader: Hazel Anderton                                       Distance: 6.00 miles

This walk has not been recced recently. But, Ruth and I have lead the moderate here twice, so most of it is the same as that which was done before but with a detour to cut a loop off. 

We go out of the car park and go up a lane called Edge Road for about a mile with a steepish bit early on but then it becomes easier. We will pass Mompessons Well on the way. Look out for Alpacas in the field alongside. They are quite common now, but our first reccee was the first time we had ever seen them. We then leave the road and do a stretch along Eyam Moor where there are some good views. Last time we came across a patch of bracken which was quite tall so if it is wet or been wet it might be an idea to have some waterproof pants to slip on. However, the forecast for next weekend is good at the moment. Next, we divert and go through a small plantation and across fields to pick up the original route which brings us to the Sir William Hill Road. We leave the road and go downhill on fields back to Eyam and pass Eyam Hall. If there is time take a look in the church which tells the Plague story. Generally good underfoot with only a few stiles

Easy Leader: Jackie Gudgeon                                        Distance: 5.00 miles

We start off the walk today with a steep climb to reach Middleton Edge and Sir William Hill Road.  We can take all the time we need to this uphill stretch, with as many rests as necessary.  Once we reach the ridge we are rewarded with outstanding views across the valley as we make our way along the road, past the Barrel Inn, and then down to the attractive village of Foolow, where we will have lunch on the village green. All the way until this point are along quiet lanes and roads. We then have a pleasant and easy walk through dry stone walled fields back to Eyam.  Good tracks, field paths and lanes.  Some stiles, nothing too challenging!

Notes on the area

Eyam is pronounced ‘Eem’ and has become known as “The Plague Village”. It was in August 1665 that the village first suffered from the Bubonic Plague. The disease came to England via the trade routes from China, spreading quickly in London and was caused by bites from fleas which had previously lived on the bodies of infected black rats. It is thought that the disease came to Eyam in a parcel of cloth delivered from London to the local tailor, George Viccars, who lodged with Widow Cooper in one of the cottages by the church. After opening the parcel, George Viccars found the cloth damp, so he put it in front of the fire to dry.  This was possibly his undoing; for after developing a fever, then rashes on his body, he died on 7th September 1665. Others in the same house died within weeks and the disease then spread throughout the village.  Most of you will know that the rhyme “Ring a ring of roses” comes from the plague.  We say “Bless you” when we sneeze as that was the first symptom of the illness.

It was the rector, William Mompesson, together with his non-conformist friend and predecessor, Thomas Stanley, who united the village and persuaded the villagers to stay within the boundaries of the village to stop the disease from spreading throughout Derbyshire. With the help of the Earl of Devonshire, who arranged for food and other needs to be left at the Boundary Stone, now known as Mompesson’s Well, the epidemic was kept within Eyam. Coins, as payment, were left soaking in vinegar so that suppliers of goods knew that they would not be infected. In all 259 people died during 1665 and 1666, but without the heroism of the villagers of Eyam, the plague would have spread all over the county. Not everyone who caught it died.  People who recovered became grave diggers.

Eyam Church is dedicated to St Lawrence, having been used for worship since Saxon times. Inside the 850 year old church is a fascinating exhibition telling the story of the plague. In the churchyard is an 8th century Celtic cross decorated with carvings of angels. There is also a sundial from the late 18th century and many interesting headstones, including one to Harry Bagshaw, a famous Derbyshire cricketer.

Eyam Hall is a beautiful manor house, built in 1671, home of the Wright family. The present incumbents inherited the house in 1990 and two years later opened it to the public.  Interested visitors will see history through the eyes of one family for over 320 years.  Foolow is a former lead mining village gathered attractively around the village green. It boasts a 14th century stone cross, a bull ring and a mere. At the edge of the green is a well with steps leading down.  The Bulls Head Inn is the last surviving pub in the village, at one time there were five.