Peak District – Cromford & Via Gellia

The Peak District has a wealth of routes to take, interesting spots to see and has historical tales by the bucket load. I do feel lucky to live within a close proximity of this great national park and I’m reminded how lucky I am on a regular basis. The area I have frequented the most over the years is the eastern peak, Bakewell, Chatsworth and Matlock. I have many happy memories that are burned in my mind in these scenic spots and new entries are being added all the time.

Sir Richard Arkwright's Mill number 1 built in 1771
Sir Richard Arkwright’s Mill number 1 built in 1771

Although not officially in the National Park the area around Matlock, Matlock Bath and Cromford are places I have spent the most time. There is plenty to do and see around there. Cycling the High Peak Trail, ride the cable car to the Heights of Abraham, do a spot of climbing at Black Rocks or take in the historic Cromford Mill.

Cromford Mill Buildings from Mill Lane
Cromford Mill Buildings from Mill Lane

Cromford Mill which was built by the Legendary Sir Richard Arkwright was the starting point for today’s walk. He built the first mill way back in 1771 and he became the Farther of the industrial Revolution. From the Mill Car Park (Proceeds go to the Arkwright Society) we then headed up to the cross roads in Cromford itself, We crossed the road and walked up past the Greyhound Hotel which was built by Richard Arkwright in 1778. After passing the Inn you then walk past the Workers Cottages which are also sites of historic interest. We joined the footpath which runs at the back of the house and continued to climb out of the valley.

We climbed up hill towards Black Rocks, joined the High Peak Trail and then followed it until we came to the bottom of the Middleton Incline. The Middleton Incline is a 1 in 8 slope where the trucks with their loads were pulled up to Middleton Top. They were taken on this voyage while being dragged upwards by a beam engine built by the Butterley Company in 1829. I once hid a Geocache up here but sadly it is long gone. We continued along the High Peak Trail after a brief stop to check if the cafe was open at Middleton Top, sadly it wasn’t so we had to make do without caffeine 🙂

Middleton Top
Middleton Top

I haven’t been along the High Peak Trail for a few years and if I’m completely honest I’d forgotten about Hopton Tunnel. It’s only a very short tunnel but still impressive and it reminded me of being in the very similar ones on the Monsal Trail.

High Peak Trail - Hopton Tunnel
High Peak Trail – Hopton Tunnel

After passing through Hopton Tunnel we made our way along towards Harboro Rocks, another spot I visited over a decade ago in search of a Geocache. It wasn’t long before we were leaving the High Peak Trail and heading northward on the Limestone Way to Grangemill.

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We walked over the fields while getting a great view down into the valley at Via Gellia, I’d not seen it from this angle before as last time I was here I was in low cloud. We descended down to Grangemill, crossed the road and then climbed back up a steep path towards the road that leads to Ible. Ible is a sleepy little farm hamlet, it’s a lovely peaceful area and I can imagine not a lot of traffic comes through here. Great looking stone farm buildings, cattle being drive down the road and it looked to me like it could have been straight out of BBC Radio 4’s The Archers 🙂

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After you pass through Ible the Limestone Way goes back across fields again as it works its way across to Bonsal. I think I lost count of the amount of gates we went through, its small field after small field across the moor here.

We eventually turned off the Limestone Way and headed along the path which takes you through the old Bonsall Mines. It’s a fascinating spot with some great history. Hundreds of little sunken holes that look like bomb blast pits. They are however old disused Lead mine shafts dating back around 150-200 years. The site itself is called Fool’s Venture and you can find a great run down of what is at the site by looking at this PDF from the Peak District Mines Historical Society Newsletter. To find out more about Mines in the Peak visit http://www.pdmhs.com

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After the mine field we descended down towards Slaley, once again we found another idyllic High Peak village. It is a small group of houses perched on the hillside with great views across the valley. There looked to be some fantastic houses here, they would require a lottery win I think to be able to afford one.
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We eventually arrived down in Bonsall, turned right down towards the Via Gellia Road and came out at the old Mill building. A short wander down the road and we then crossed over the river near Slinter Cottage, it is owned by the Arkwright Society and you can find out more details there website at http://www.arkwrightsociety.org.uk/content/slinter-cottage-details.

After a nice wander through the woods following Bonsall Brook we arrived back in Cromford. We passed the Mill Pond, rounded the corner, crossed near the Greyhound Inn and then crossed the A6 to walk back to the car near Arkwright Mill / Cromford Canal.

A great little afternoon wander that takes in some great historical parts of this corner of the Peak District. I have since been back and paid a visit to Cromford Mill so keep and eye out for my blog post from there. Thanks for stooping by 🙂

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