HVL Walk 7:                Bamford to Hathersage

The Route:   Bamford station, Saltergate lane, Hurstclough Lane, Nether Hurst Farm, Birley Farm, Hathersage village, Hathersage station.
Starting point:         Bamford station.

Distance:      2.7 miles (4.3 km)

Ascent:         483 feet (147 metres)

Map:   OS outdoor Leisure No. 1, The Dark Peak

How to get there:   Daily train service to Bamford and Hathersage stations from Manchester and Sheffield.  Check train times as there are some lengthy gaps on weekdays.

Bamford Station

The Walk:     From the Manchester bound platform of Bamford station, go up the steps, turn right, over the bridge and then after about 100 yards, right again into Saltergate Lane (not into the station approach).  From the Sheffield bound platform go along the station approach and turn right into Saltergate Lane.  The first part of the lane has a footway, but this soon disappears

You soon pass a footpath sign on the right and in theory this provides a short cut, but as it crosses the golf course the lane is probably the safer bet despite there being no footway.

Continue up the lane to the top of the hill where there is a cross roads.  Ahead is the imposing entrance to Severn-Trent’s Bamford water treatment works, part of the great Derwent Dams complex.  Turn right, along Hurstclough Lane, which soon divides.  Keep right, soon passing a footpath sign on the right, which is the exit from the short cut across the golf course referred to earlier.

The land now descends quite sharply into Hurst Clough.  On your right in the bottom of the clough is a small iron gate of distinctive design.  This marks the route of the Derwent Aqueduct from the Derwent dams right through to Derby, Leicester and Nottingham.  You can spot these gates right through the central part of Derbyshire.  They were provided to allow access to the aqueduct for water board staff engaged in maintenance.

Severn-Trent’s Bamford water treatment works
Photo by Martin Smith
Just beyond the bottom of the clough, there is a footpath sign on the right and a short flight of stone steps leads into the wood.  This is not a short cut, but an alternative route, avoiding the next part of the lane, which is a deep cut hollow way, very rough and muddy.  The advice is to use the footpath.  This is initially steep but soon the gradient eases as you get into open fields and then the path parallels the lane, joining it again just before a junction.  Here the route splits three ways.  Take the right hand route, signed as a bridleway.  Follow the bridleway to Nether Hurst Farm where you join their access road.  The temptation is to turn right here, along the road, but a partly hidden sign informs you that the road is private and that you should go through the gate facing you and use a path parallel to the road, but behind the hedge.  It would help if the gate could be opened or the stile was in a better state of repair!
Follow the path down to the right, beside the hedge.  In the bottom of the dip the path is carried over a muddy patch by a boardwalk, beyond which you climb again, this time on half buried flagstones.  The path bears right to an obvious gateway out onto the lane, but this is not the right of way.  Continue a little further up the field to another gate and here go right.  The path runs along the bottom side of the overgrown hedge, still gradually climbing until you reach the top corner of the field.  Do not go through the gate immediately ahead, but bear slightly left to another gate, which leads out onto a lane.  Here go right and descend to a T junction.  Turn left, along Birley Lane, soon reaching Birley Farm.  The footpath signing here is rather misleading.  The sign implies the path runs straight across the farmyard.  It probably did at one time, but not any more.  Once in the farmyard, go left and pass through a gate with a most unusual catch.  An obvious track leads ahead and through another gateway, but this is not the route.  Instead, double back onto another (waymarked) track, which takes you past the bottom of the farm buildings and eventually to a stile in the fence on the left.  Go over this and slant right, down the hillside, with a fence on your right.  You’ll soon spot a gate in the fence ahead, but no, this is not the path.  The right of way lies down to the left in the bottom corner of the field, where there is a well hidden stile and a waymarker under the trees.

Birley Farm gate mechanism
Photo by Martin Smith
Once over the stile slant down the hillside on the obvious path, soon emerging into the parkland of Brookfield Manor.  There’s a good view up the valley to North Lees Hall and Stanage Edge from here.  Descend to cross the access road and continue in a south easterly direction to a footbridge across Hood Brook.  There are way marks but they are not the most obviously sited.  Once over the brook, turn right the then bear left up the field, heading towards Hathersage church, the spire of which can clearly be seen ahead.  In this way you reach Baulk Lane, here only a rough track.  Turn right.  If you want to visit the church and see Little John’s grave, follow the signposts at the next junction of paths. 
Otherwise, continue along Baulk Lane to the main A6187 road.  Cross the road and go down the footpath opposite, passing Ibbotson’s Farm cottages before reaching the road.  Continue along the road past the swimming pool and at the T junction turn left.  The station approach is about 200 yards further on.