First Footing the Boundary Walk

David Selkirk

We have a new long distance trail in our area, the Peak District Boundary Walk, which not surprisingly follows the boundary of the National Park. It is the brainchild of Friends of the Peak District who long ago planned the original boundary of the Park, allowing the Peak District to be the first national park to be created.

I was one of many supporters who helped survey and design the route. I wanted to call it the Peak Round Walk which is more elegant and less of a mouthful, and to use the Park’s millstone logo for waymarking, but neither of these excellent ideas found favour.

The launch date was Saturday 17 June, with an official opening ceremony in Buxton and a market and music all day. Meanwhile groups of walkers were simultaneously first footing each of 20 sections of the almost 200 mile route. I led the section from Millthorpe to Beeley. There were 8 of us, 5 from the U3A but sadly no other Ramblers.

On a glorious day, we were greeted at the start by the landlord of the Royal Oak, a community pub. Millthorpe’s most famous son (from nearby anyway) is GHB Ward, a founder member of the British Labour Party and legendary walking pioneer. The route follows the road west, then through woods and up to Shillito Wood where there is a well preserved wayside cross. These crosses were erected between the 9th and 15th centuries to guide travellers and remind them of the all pervasive presence and protection of God. We were pleased to rest there out of the sun.

Shillito Cross

You have to walk on the road then to get to Curbar crossroads. An off-road route would go across Leash Fen (access land), site of an ancient sunken village, but I had tried to find a route across and soon realised why the village sank.

Next it is up to and along Birchen Edge, with great views. You pass Nelson’s Monument, a poor thin little pillar, and three large boulders with his ships’ names engraved on them – Victory, Defiance & Royal Soverin – more impressive. Eventually you drop down steeply to a track leading to the Robin Hood on the A619. Then it’s over the road and along a quirky permissive path on the other side of the valley and up to the aqueduct which supplies the water for the Emperor Fountain at Chatsworth.

1709_Footprints 5 Nelson's Three Ships 3

Nelson’s Three Ships

A long uphill track takes you to Hob Hurst House which is the only square Bronze Age barrow in Britain. It was one of the first ancient monuments to be officially protected. There are stones marked VR at each corner. Hob Hurst was a hobgoblin, some say friendly and some say fearsome. I’ve yet to meet him to find out which.

Then it’s downhill all the way (that’s leaderspeak, believe it at your peril) to Hell Bank Plantation and a lovely walk down through woods above a ravine to Beeley. The Old Smithy CafĂ© was waiting to welcome us, and we were well ready to be welcomed. Tea, coffee, ice cream and certificates all round. An excellent day.

No-one has yet walked the whole route. Now there’s a challenge!

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Derbyshire Dales Group