Ancient Estates of the Peak

Last Saturday was a really special day when we led a walk for The Peacock Hotel in Rowsley through the two ancient estates of Chatsworth and Haddon.

In addition to enjoying stunning scenery throughout the guided walk, customers learned about the fascinating history of these two estates.

What made the walk really special was that Lord Edward Manners had very kindly granted us permission to walk through the private part of the Haddon Estate that isn’t normally open to the public.  He had also arranged for us to have a private guided tour of Haddon Hall after a delicious lunch at the Haddon Restaurant.  The staff of the Haddon Estate looked after us really well on the day!

The private part of the Haddon Estate includes the old orchard, and the medieval deer park.  This is a beautiful, very natural looking area of parkland that has largely been left undisturbed for centuries.  Through here, we saw lots of beautiful mature trees, many of which had been planted by different generations of the Manners family.  We saw fascinating lumps in the ground that were massive ant hills (a sign that the land has been left undisturbed for a long period of time), and we were able to look into the abandoned tunnel that the old London to Manchester railway line once passed through.  The estate is managed for conservation and we saw evidence of many initiatives to encourage wildlife, birds and a diverse range of plants and trees.

The photo gallery below shows some of the highlights of the day.


Walking through the private part of the Haddon Estate


View over amazing countryside from the medieval deer park in the private part of the Haddon Estate


Exploring the entrance to the Haddon Tunnel in the private part of the Haddon Estate.  The London to Manchester railway line once passed through here. 


Beautiful trees in the Haddon Estate


Haddon Hall


The gardens at Haddon Hall


Walking along the track-bed of the old railway line in the private part of the Haddon Estate.


Looking down an air shaft into the old railway tunnel in the private part of the Haddon Estate.


The footpath through Manners Wood.


The River Derwent in Chatsworth Park


Footpath through Chatsworth Park


A Walk to Magpie Mine

Going back in history as far as Roman times, lead mining was the most important mineral industry in the White Peak area of the Peak District.  During the 18th century, at least 10,000 miners worked in over 30,000 workings, some of which were opencast and some deeper mines.

Magpie Mine is the best preserved lead mine in the Peak District.  It is thought to be over 300 years old and is rumored to be haunted by an old miner who is guarding a particularly valuable seam of lead ore.

The disused mine can be easily accessed via a public footpath from the village of Sheldon.  We sometimes incorporate a visit to the mine on a full day scenic guided walk from Ashford in the Water, also visiting Monsal Head and Monsal Dale.

There are two pump house chimneys at Magpie Mine.  The square one is of local Derbyshire design and the round one is of Cornish tin mine design.  They stand above 200 metre deep shafts which were worked more or less continuously for over 200 years.  The last attempts to mine the valuable lead ore is marked by black winding gear and a rusting, corrugated iron shed dating from the 1950’s.  It is now protected as an ancient monument and used as a field study centre by the Peak District Mines Historical Society.  There is an interesting information plaque on a building near the main shaft.

Before leaving the mine, it’s worth visiting the re-constructed horse gin about 150 metres to the east of the main mine buildings.  The horse would have been walked in circles to winch up containers of lead ore from the mine below.

Further information about our guided walks in the Peak District.

Rock chair at Harborough rocks

Rock Chair at Harborough Rocks

Yesterday, on our semi-wild camping expedition in the White Peak area of the Peak District we walked up to the trig point at the top of Harborough Rocks.  It’s only a short distance off the High Peak Trail near to Brassington.  A fascinating feature is this limestone rock chair.

Although many of the rocks in this area have eroded naturally into unusual shapes, it’s likely that this particular feature has at some point in history been carved by man.  No-one seems to know when, but graffiti on the back of the chair dates as far back as 1757.

The chair is actually quite comfortable and certainly offers excellent views across the Derbyshire countryside.

To find out more about our guided walks and occasional camping expeditions, please see

Rock chair at Harborough rocks

Rock chair at Harborough Rocks

Nelson's Monument, Birchen Edge

Nelson’s Monument and The Three Ships

Everyone has heard of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, London and many people also know of The Nelson Monument on Calton Hill, Edinburgh.  But did you know that in the Peak District we have our own Nelson’s Monument? Not only that, nearby we also have the three historical British fighting ships of Victory, Defiance and Royal Soverin!

Take a walk onto Birchen Edge, one of the gritstone edges that the Dark Peak area is famous for.  The views are stunning and you can also up there find Nelson’s Monument and The Three Ships.  The monument was erected by a local business man called John Brightman in 1810 in honour of Admiral Lord Nelson following his victory and his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.  This was some thirty years before the London Nelson’s Column was constructed.  The ‘ships’ are three large gritstone boulders which have had the words Victory, Defiance and Royal Soverin engraved on them like the names on the prow of the ships.

Well worth a visit!

Rock art near Gardoms Edge

Bronze Age Rock Art

The area between Gardoms Edge and Birchen Edge in the Peak District was once the site of a small Bronze age settlement and was farmed by the people who lived there.  If you take a wander around the area, you can find several interesting Bronze Age and Neolithic features hidden among the trees, bracken, heather and grassy areas.  One of the most interesting is this slab of gritstone featuring a ‘ring and cup’ carving.  It is believed to be a Bronze age form of art.  It would be fabulous to be able to look back in time to see the people who made this carving and maybe to understand a little of its significance.

Having found the rock and marveled at it, you should then bend down and tap or knock on it.  You will soon realise that it is not quite what it seems! It sounds hollow inside.  That is because in 1996 the original rock was buried in a secret location nearby to protect it from erosion and other damage and it was replaced by this polyester resin and fiberglass replica.  Just to look at it you would never know.

Ruins of Errwood Hall

The ruins of Errwood Hall

A walk in the hills and woodland around beautiful Errwood Reservoir in the Peak District wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the ruins of Errwood Hall.

Once a very grand building, the hall dates back to the 1830’s and was built for Samuel Grimshawe, a wealth Manchester businessman.  It was surrounded by a thriving estate and occupied by Samuel’s family for almost a hundred years.  Following the death of the last members of the family line, the building was used as a hostel for ramblers for a short while but then in the 1930’s when work began on constructing Errwood Reservoir the hall was dismantled and much of the stone was used construct the new water treatment works.

It now occupies a tranquil location near to the bottom of Shooter’s Clough just a little way up the wooded hillside from the side of the reservoir.

We visit the ruins of Errwood Hall occasionally on our Peak District guided walks.

Solomon’s Temple, Buxton

Anyone who has been to the Buxton area has probably seen Solomon’s Temple high up on the hillside to the south of the town.  It is a lovely short walk either from Buxton town centre, or from the Pooles Cavern car park, or even nearer from the Buxton Country Park car park near to Grinlow caravan site.  You can climb the spiral staircase to the top of the tower and be rewarded with fabulous views across the landscapes of both the Dark Peak and the White Peak.

The tower was built in 1896 by public subscription and is thought to take its name from a local man called Soloman Mycock who rented land up there to graze sheep in the early 1800s.  In Victorian times when Buxton was a popular spa town, the tower was a favorite walking destination for people after ‘taking the waters’ in the town’s baths.

The tower is actually built on the site of a neolithic burial mound, and going back around 5,000 years, this hilltop is believed to have been used for religious rites.