Ten walkers gathered outside Church on the 3rd November before leaving in our cars for our starting point at Winster. We had checked the walk the previous Sunday, after Saturday rain saw flooding in Chesterfield and flood warnings issued in other parts of the Peak District. Then we had to drive through flood water to cross the River Derwent at Two Dales but this week there were no such problems before reaching Winster.
Winster was formally a centre for the lead mining industry and has a large number of listed buildings, including the Market House open daily as a National Trust information point. Mentioned in the Domesday Book its current population is just over 600.
After our sandwiches we started our walk, joining the Limestone Way. This long distance footpath runs for 46 miles from Castleton to Rocester in Staffordshire. This part of the path gave us far reaching views to our left towards Stanton Moor as we walked alongside fields with sheep and horses grazing and the call of a buzzard overhead. As we continued, the view down the Derwent valley opened up with Chatsworth House visible in the far distance and the Hunting Tower a speck on the hillside above.
Further along the undulating farmland we caught a glimpse of Riber Castle on the horizon in front of us. Built in the 19th Century as a residence for John Smedley, it has been the former site of a boys’ school, a food store during World War Two, and later a nature reserve. Once derelict it is now being converted into apartments.
After crossing many fields, clambering over and squeezing through styles we turned onto Blakelow Lane. Leaving the Limestone Way, we continued along the stony lane, past old opencast workings on our left. Our walk was interrupted as three off road motorbikes sped past us kicking up small stones.
After turning onto Blakemere Lane we walked past Bonsall Motocross track. Motocross is a form of off-road motorcycle racing, there was no meeting taking place today.
After a coffee break we left the lane and started walking through fields, clambering over stiles once more and trying not to touch an electrified fence at one point. The skies started to darken and a few drops of rain fell, but we kept our fingers crossed that the rain would keep away. At one point we crossed through a field of cows with their calves, they watched us, we watched them but they were not too inquisitive. After climbing a grassy hill we were rewarded with more views over Stanton Moor before returning to the Limestone Way and retracing our way back to Winster.
By the side of the B5056 near to The Miners Standard inn we stopped to look at the best preserved Lead Ore House in the Peak District. It was used by local lead miners for keeping lead ore safe. The smaller mine owners ‘banked’ their lead by using the chute at the back to deposit the lead ore at any time and the roof is vaulted for additional security. Large doors at the front have been replaced by a grill so that the chute and vaulted interior can be seen.
Continuing down the road we reached our cars. Thankfully the rain had held off and the walk was not too muddy considering all the rain that had fallen recently.
The next walk on Sunday 1st December will be led by Eric and Helen in the Chatsworth area. New members are very welcome. We meet at the church gates at 12 noon with a packed lunch.