Our circular journey from St. John’s Road via back lanes and tracks
Only three of us were able to experience walking through slushy snow (myself wearing wellingtons) on a mild, sunny Sunday in March, after the bitterly cold winds and snow drifts sent to us by the “Beast from the East”, and it was well worth it.
We made our way towards Hotel Casa, Chesterfield’s only independent 4 star hotel, which opened in October 2010, before turning right onto the cycle track which runs at the side of the A61 by-pass to Sheffield. The Chesterfield bypass was built in the 1980s on the alignment of the former Great Central Railway.
One member of the team (with tongue in cheek) remarked that it was a quiet walk. The traffic was thundering past as if the drivers were desperate to get some speed up after experiencing days of disruptive travel through the snow. The paths were thawing quite quickly and the going was very easy with no worries about slipping on ice.
There was a hazy mist throughout the walk so we were unable to see the Crooked Spire or the Observational Wheel in the market place even though we were close enough. However, we did observe a wren poking about in a pile of leaves at the foot of a tree, near to graves in a churchyard.
Our journey took us to the rear of the Waterside Development Site, eventually arriving at Chesterfield Railway Station. Further cycle paths led us over the A61, past B&Q and the Ravenside Retail Park through to Queens Park where we were rewarded with the sight of a robin and were passed by a few dog walkers on our way towards Lidl. Here we paused to read the plaque on the wall next to an archway – “Chains were drawn through these openings across the road to stop traffic and allow trains to cross from the brewery sidings to the gas works”. The remains of these gas works are still to be seen. We continued through Monkey Park before crossing Ashgate Road.
We passed to the rear of Brockwell Infants and Junior School where Julie once worked and where my son was excellently educated for the first ten years of his life. Julie was able to list all the teacher’s names and memories were evoked and discussed. We walked down the paths and the sparsely wooded area of Loundsley Green then uphill towards the Barnett Observatory, completed in 1960. Horace Barnett, his family and friends had the vision for this building and were known as the Newbold Nutters at the time. According to the Sky at Night magazine this observatory houses the 9th largest amateur telescope in the UK.
As we passed the newly built Co-op store, on the site of the now demolished Wheatsheaf Inn, we were informed that the opening day is scheduled for 28th April.
We parted ways at Littlemoor Shopping Centre with Julie and Steve collecting their car from the Rectory and continuing their journey home to Hasland.
For much of this circular walk we had the Holme Brook to our left, sometimes the road, other times railway tracks and always the town of Chesterfield remained on our right. This proved a very enjoyable ramble with areas being linked up by paths, many showing the rear of well-known buildings.
The date for our next walk has been changed from Easter Sunday to the following Sunday 8th April. If anyone wishes to join us, we meet at 12 noon at the church gates with our packed lunches before getting into the available cars and setting off for the start of our walk. Everyone is welcome.