The Ecclesbourne Way
Martin Phillips Grand Opening
The Ecclesbourne Way is a new walking route, following the course of the River Ecclesbourne, whose source is near Wirksworth and which then flows into the Derwent at Duffield. The idea evolved a few years ago as a natural progression of an environmental project developed by the Environment Agency (EA) and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) to improve the water environment of the Ecclesbourne Valley and raise awareness of the river and its wildlife.
In July 2013 Friends of the Ecclesbourne Way was formed to establish the walk in collaboration with Amber Valley (AVR) and Derbyshire Dales groups of the Ramblers, Derbyshire County Council (DCC), EA, DWT and the National Trust. After many days of surveys, and more days on a computer, and much help from DCC, AVR produced a comprehensive leaflet at the end of 2015, which is now available from several libraries and tourist locations in the area.
Ecclesbourne Valley Railway (EVR) have made generous donations, used to set up a website, and with further use planned for waymarking.
Starting in Duffield, the 11 mile walk follows the full length of the Ecclesbourne upstream, northwest, to Wirksworth. It was originally planned to take in Alport Heights, but, due to practical difficulties with paths, was rerouted over Hilltop, at 650 feet, which gives panoramic views.
The highest point is 768 feet. On reaching Wirksworth, there are hourly buses back to Duffield. But you can also use the EVR, and it is hoped that for many this heritage railway will become a feature of the outing. The walk can easily be done in one day, or can be divided into sections. Cowers Lane (Shottle) and Idridgehay, the latter just over halfway, both have access to buses and EVR trains, so are convenient start/finish points. The route is not yet waymarked, but plans are in hand. Earlier this year DWT obtained substantial funding from SITA Trust and other sources for a major year long project to design and erect interpretation boards along the route, and make physical improvements to the walk (stiles, gates, etc). There are likely to be interpretation boards at each of the four EVR stations, and one near Turnditch. It is hoped that part of the funding can be used for the necessary improvements to paths at Alport, which can then be reinstated into the route as an optional extension.
The website gives the background to the project, practical information on how to go about the walk, and a detailed description of the route with maps suitable for downloading.
Derbyshire Dales Group