Four walkers gathered outside Church on the 5 September for our first ‘away’ walk since the Covid-19 outbreak. When we got to our starting point in Old Whittington, we had our lunch break. Before starting the walk our numbers were reduced to three when one of our group could not find their car and house keys and had to return to Church. (They were later found.)
We left Old Whittington, climbing steadily across Glasshouse Common. This area was once one of the leading glass making centres in the country. A Richard Dixon in the early 1700’s established a furnace and glasshouse to take advantage of the local coal and limestone. All manner of glass items were produced from bottles to quality cut glass. In the 1820’s production ceased, and no trace remains other than place names including Dixon’s Lock on the Chesterfield Canal.
As we continued, we came across a combine harvester, just starting to work on a field we were about to cross. Entering a small wood, we followed paths before crossing the drive to a house and then crossing a recently cultivated field to join a minor road. Skirting Stubbing Wood, we then crossed other fields before walking past Ash Lane Farm, a 16th Century thatched house of cruck construction, on the outskirts of West Handley. Crossing more fields, we were soon on the outskirts of Middle Handley. On our left we admired a house with topiary animals in its front garden and an iron frame with toy monkeys hanging from it. One of the fields we crossed is called Murder Field. In 1873, 23-year-old Eliza Hudson met her estranged husband Benjamin by a stile. After a row he bludgeoned her to death. He was found guilty of murder and was hanged at Derby Gaol.
Crossing wide dipping fields, we reached the B6052 road to Eckington which we crossed to walk down Staveley Lane. A grassy bridleway took us past Dale Farm and the hamlet of Nether Handley. Continuing down the lane we passed Parkhouse Farm. Over on our left we could see Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Centre. Here is the last surviving railway roundhouse in the United Kingdom with an operational turntable. Built in 1870, it was threatened with demolition in 1991 when the site was closed by British Rail. It was saved by a group of dedicated volunteers who have transformed it into a unique railway museum and events venue.
On reaching a road, we turned back towards New Whittington before walking up Stone Lane to re-join the bottom of Glasshouse Lane. This was the route of a narrow-gauge railway at the end of the 18th century, constructed to connect the glassworks with the Chesterfield Canal. Continuing up Glasshouse Lane we returned to our cars.
We thoroughly enjoyed our walk, with magnificent views southwards towards Chesterfield and the Crooked Spire.
If you enjoy walking you are more than welcome to join us on the first Sunday of each month, meeting outside church at 12:00 noon. Please bring a packed lunch.
Steve & Julie Franks