Rowsley and Stanton Nine Ladies, Peak District
Distance: 14.5km/9 miles l Ascent: 275m/900ft l Time: 4½ hours l Walk type: woodland, farm and moor
Follow the Derwent Valley Heritage Way along the River Derwent, passing the Peak Rail Heritage Railway along the way to Darley Bridge and its ancient yew tree. Then climb to atmospheric Stanton Moor with its ancient burial mounds, unusual rock formations and Bronze Age stone circles, meeting the Nine Ladies before returning through White Peak pastures to Rowsley.
Navigation level: Easy l Difficulty: Moderate l Type: Circular
Start/End location: Rowsley car park (free), Old Station Close, DE4 2EL (SK258658).
Where: Circular walk from the Peak District village of Rowsley. Hourly Transpeak bus TP3 (highpeakbuses.com) from Bakewell and Buxton - stop at Peak Village, Rowsley. By car, A6 from Buxton or Bakewell.
Maps: OS Explorer OL24, OS Landranger 119.
Visitor information: Bakewell Visitor Centre: 01629 813227 www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/visitor-centres/bakewell.
Guidebooks: Walking in the Peak District: White Peak East by Paul Besley, (Cicerone, £12.95, ISBN 978-1852849764).
1. Follow footpath from corner of Rowsley public car park to join Derwent Valley Heritage Way (DVHW), which leads along River Derwent towards Darley Dale.
2. Continue straight on through woodland, following route of dismantled train line, to Rowsley South station on the Peak Rail Heritage Railway. An information board explains the history of the railway, built in 1867 and closed in 1967.
3. From station, continue along DVHW, which leaves woods and crosses a series of fields to Abbey Farm Equestrian Centre. As the farm drive leads out to a junction, continue straight on past St Helen’s Church, home to the 2,000-year-old Darley Yew. Turn right onto public footpath immediately after churchyard, continuing across fields and round cricket pitch to Darley Bridge.
4. Turn right along road past Square and Compass pub and over bridge, then first right down Oldfield Lane opposite Three Stags Heads pub (take care as no pavement). Left at fork, along quieter road which ends and becomes a track. At this point take a slight right then continue left on steep, stony public footpath. At crossroads just before Uppertown Farm, turn right and follow footpath all the way up to Barn Farm campsite at Birchover. Continue straight on through campsite, following signs for Stanton Moor.
5. When path meets a road, turn right then cross stile on left to head up onto Stanton Moor - an information board explains its history. Now rare heather moorland, this moor has been used for thousands of years for farming, wood and stone.
6. Follow sandy path to top of moor. At obvious crossroads take left turn which leads directly to the Cork Stone. Turn right here, past remains of old quarry, then detour up narrow path on right to highest point on moor, marked by a trig pillar and rewarded with a panoramic view. From trig, head left to return to main path and follow it down right through birch woodland. This curves right to Stanton Nine Ladies stone circle, created c.4,000 years ago. (See information board about significant cluster of cairns and stone circles across Stanton Moor.)
7. With the stone circle behind, go straight on through trees and over stile on left where a narrow flight of stone steps behind tower leads to a footpath. Turn left and follow it as it descends via hairpin bend to road. Turn right at road, then take first public footpath on left, through trees before opening into a wide grassy path. The footpath descends to impressive Stanton Moor Farm, where a private road curves steeply down to meet a quiet road. Turn left and stay on road to Rowsley, where it joins main road opposite Peacock pub. Turn right here, crossing bridge and passing Grouse and Claret pub and Peak Village shopping centre, opposite Rowsley car park and the start.
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