Lathkill Dale, Bradford Dale and Youlgreave




5.25 miles (8.4kms)

787ft (240m)
3hrs 30min

About the walk

Youlgreave lies in an enviable position between two delectable dales, although most villagers claim the River Bradford as their own. This walk links the gentle lower sections of both Bradford Dale and Lathkill Dale, as well as taking you on a tour of the historic village.

What’s in a name?

Youlgrave was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Giolgrave, but since then has been spelt in over 60 different ways. In the Middle Ages it was variously written as Jalgrave, Iolgrave, Yelgreve and even Hyolegrave. Like many traditional White Peak villages, the name is almost certainly rooted in lead mining, since a grove or groove is an old term for a mine or open workings (miners were often known as groovers); and possibly ‘yellow grove’ referred to a colour found in the local rock, such as baryte or barium sulphate. However, the spelling of the village’s name is still a matter of some confusion. Most road signs, books and maps use ‘Youlgreave’, but many villagers drop the ‘e’ and use the more traditional ‘Youlgrave’ – although few seem to be too bothered by it.

Bell-ringing appeal

The centrepiece of Youlgreave, in more ways than one, is the impressive Parish Church of All Saints. It stands at a crossroads and the huge 96ft (29m) high Perpendicular tower dominates the eastern end of the village. The church dates from the 12th century and its Norman nave includes a curious font with an additional stoup or basin to hold holy water or possibly oil. The chancel contains the alabaster tomb of Thomas Cockayne of Harthill Hall, who was killed in a brawl in 1488. There are painted glass windows designed by Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones, which incorporate angels designed by William Morris. All Saints’ peal of 12 bells is, after Melbourne, the largest in Derbyshire, and regularly attracts visiting teams of bell-ringers.

A call to prayer

Worshippers in Youlgreave have been spoilt for choice over the years. Apart from the Parish Church, the Wesleyan Reform Chapel and Methodist Chapel are both still active. Next to the Farmyard Inn is the former Primitive Methodist Chapel, while further up the hill, towards the top of the village, is the Independent Chapel, built by a local man after he fell out with the vicar, and now headquarters of the local Royal British Legion branch.  

Walk directions

Walk along the dirt track beside the car park away from the lane, which becomes a path. Go through the gate at the end for a waymarked path that drifts half left across the pasture and then slants down the hillside until it meets a road at the bend. Cross over and go downhill for a few paces, then down steps for a path across a short field. Turn left into the lane and follow the pavement up to a junction and then down into Youlgreave. Walk all the way through the village until you come to the parish church.

Turn right and walk down Bradford Lane. At the fork go right down Stoneyside, then at the bottom turn left. Walk ahead and across the road to go through the gate opposite. Now follow a wide track alongside the River Bradford, past a packhorse bridge and low cliffs. Where the track bends right, uphill, go straight on through a kissing gate to continue walking close to the river. Eventually you arrive at the main road at Alport and leave the Bradford.    

Cross over the road and continue on the path, now with the River Lathkill to your right. Follow the path along the bottom of successive fields to reach a lane by Raper Lodge. At the junction of routes go straight ahead on a firmer track. Stay on this via a gate and a stile to reach a lane. Turn right and go across Conksbury Bridge.

On the far side of the bridge turn left and follow the level path beside the river. Beyond a series of weirs by the open grassy bank continue across a rocky section and on as far as a footbridge at the bottom of the lane from Over Haddon.

Go left, over the footbridge, then follow the track as it zig-zags steeply up the wooded hillside. Go through the gate at the very top and turn left to cross a field to reach Meadow Place Grange. The route passes through the gated farmyard and exits on the far side.

Beyond the final gate head diagonally right and walk up and across several huge, open fields, heading southwestwards. When you finally come to a lane go across it for the path opposite through a small field. Go through a belt of trees and another field to reach a narrow lane. Turn right to return to the car park.

Additional information

Mostly firm field paths and dale bottom tracks, pavements, 9 stiles

Limestone dale and pasture

On lead around livestock

AA Walker's Map 1 Central Peak District

Moor Lane car park

Coldwell End and Holywell Lane, Youlgreave

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About the area

Discover Derbyshire

The natural features of this central English county range from the modest heights of the Peak District National Park, where Kinder Scout stands at 2,088 ft (636 m), to the depths of its remarkable underground caverns, floodlit to reveal exquisite Blue John stone. Walkers and cyclists will enjoy the High Peak Trail which extends from the Derwent Valley to the limestone plateau near Buxton, and for many, the spectacular scenery is what draws them to the area.

The county is well endowed with stately homes – most notably Chatsworth, the palatial home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, with its outstanding collections of paintings, statuary and art. Other gems include the well preserved medieval Haddon Hall, the Elizabethan Hardwick Hall, and Kedleston Hall, whose entrance front has been described as the grandest Palladian façade in Britain.

The spa town of Matlock is the county’s administrative centre and other major towns of interest include Derby and the old coal mining town of Chesterfield, with its crooked spire. Around the villages of Derbyshire, look out for the ancient tradition of well dressing, the decorating of springs and wells – the precious sources of life-sustaining water – with pictures formed from flowers.

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