Markeaton Park's a bustling place in summer, but as soon as you cross the road and take the lane up to Markeaton Stones Farm you leave that all behind to enter a new rural world. The farmhouse and stables are pristine, made from warm-red local brick. Beyond Markeaton Stones, the track wends its way between rolling arable fields that slope gently right to a stream, here called Markeaton Brook. Transformed into ribbonlike lakes, the brook provides a tranquil focus for the landscaped parks of Kedleston, which lies to the north, and Markeaton downstream, from where the walk began, before eventually joining the River Derwent.
As you climb the hill towards hilltop trees, look back and see Derby spread before you. Prominent in the view are the university, with its rooftop masts, and the cathedral, which dwarfs everything around it. The beeches of Vicar Wood guide you past the farm of the same name to the other side of the hill, where you can see mile upon mile of rolling farmland. Hidden behind the trees lie the landscaped parklands of Kedleston Hall. Famous Scottish architect, Robert Adam, built the present hall for Nathaniel Curzon in 1759.
A world apart
A short stretch of road leads to the entrance to Meynall Langley Gardens –and it's café. In the next cross-field section the walking is a little rougher, but it's still pleasantly pastoral despite the Derby skyline and a hilltop water tower providing an unexpectedly pleasing distant backdrop to rolling fields. As you reach the busy A52 there's a brief abrupt return to the present day, but Mackworth village is a surprise. It's only yards from the A52, but again, it's a world apart –from both the A52 and the modern estate nearby that also bears the Mackworth name. A tidy row of 17th- and 18th-century cottages lines an undulating, slightly twisted lane. In the middle is a Gothic stone-built gatehouse, the remains of Mackworth Castle, which was built around 1495 for the de Mackworth family, and destroyed in the Civil War. At the end of the lane is the church of All Saints, a rather austere 14th-century building with a Perpendicular tower. The last mile of the route follows the Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk across fields and back to the civilisation of Markeaton Park.
From the car park cross the road and head briefly right to gain a tarmac track to Markeaton Stones Farm. Past the farm, the track becomes stony, climbing gently around crop-growing fields until it reaches a junction.
Turn left here along a smooth tarmac track. Fork ahead where the main track bends left, now on rougher tarmac and climbing to Upper Vicarwood Farm.
Keep an eye out for feathery-footed free-range cockerels as you cross the farmyard, then continue through a gate by the left-hand side of the stable block. Follow a hilltop track (which can become surprisingly boggy in sustained wet conditions); ignore a fork off to the left part-way along.
Turn left along a country lane. At a bend right (by the entrance to Meynell Langley Gardens), fork left through a field gate. Head down the right edge of fields, then enter a rough copse. Follow another field edge beyond, which leads into pasture.
Head across the centre of this widening field, in a rightwards trending arc. Part-way down the field, a large ash tree becomes visible on the far boundary. Aim for a gate just left of this. Cross the next field and over a wooden footbridge spanning Mackworth Brook.
The path now goes parallel to a hedge on the right, then through the rightmost of two field gates at the far side. Bear left across the field corner to a former gateway, then continue across the upper edge of the next field. Pass a farm which hides behind trees to the right, then walk the length of an elongated field to the distant bottom-left corner by the road.
A kissing gate leads to a gap in a tall hedge and onto the pavement of the busy A52 (take care). Head leftwards along this, passing a car-wash and diner. Take the next left along Jarveys Lane, which winds through Mackworth village. Ignore a side turn to Gold Lane partway along.
Where the lane turns sharp right near the church, continue straight ahead on a footpath. Turn left into a field, heading just right of the church. Turn right by the graveyard; a well-defined path now leads beside several fields back to Markeaton.
Cross a road (which can be busy at rush hour) to find a pavement running leftwards behind vegetation. Pass the entrance to Bryers Heritage Farm and continue to a sharp bend left in the road.
Continue ahead through the gates into Markeaton Park. Swing left over bridges over two branches of the Markeaton Brook, then left again to pass the Mundy Play Centre. At the far end of the play area, fork left over a red painted bridge and up a few steps to return to the car park.
Farm tracks and field paths, can be muddy after rain, several stiles
Undulating fields –crops and pasture
Dogs should be kept under close control - and must not enter the playground in Markeaton Park
OS Explorer 259 Derby
Markeaton Park pay car park (signed from road as Mundy Play Centre)
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
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.