Osmaston and Shirley Parks

Little more than the sawmills, an unusual chimney and fabulous parkland remain of this former grand estate but it's a lovely walk




4.8 miles (7.7kms)

460ft (140m)
2hrs 30min

About the walk

Osmaston is barely a few winding country lanes away from the buzzing traffic of Ashbourne, but it’s just the unspoiled tranquil village you’d hope to find on a country walk. The moment you leave the car you will experience the slow tickover of the place.

St Martin’s Church was built in 1845 to replace a much earlier one. The parish register goes back to 1606. It’s full of references to the Wright family, who for a long time were the local gentry and benefactors to the village. Francis Wright, the owner of the Butterley Iron Works, had Osmaston Manor built here in 1849. The hall itself was a mock-Tudor mansion and the gardens were landscaped. In 1964 the hall’s owner, Sir John Walker, decided to demolish the place when he moved to Okeover and took the Okeover family name. However, Osmaston Manor is well served by public rights of way, which make a pleasing itinerary for the walker.

Across the road from the car park is a terrace of four thatched cottages, built to celebrate the coronation of King George VI. As you walk down the lane you pass The Shoulder of Mutton, a fine village pub with much promise for the end of the day (closed between 3pm–6pm), then some more of those thatched cottages, this time built with rustic local bricks. These cottages are much older than the ones seen earlier and they’re timber framed. At the end of the lane there’s a duck pond. The walk enters the woodlands of Osmaston Park and threads between two of the estate’s many lakes. On the other side there’s an old mill, built in the style of an Austrian chalet and complete with a waterwheel. The path climbs through more woodland.

Shirley is another pretty village with its own aristocracy: Earl Ferrers and the Shirley family. From Shirley the walk turns back across fields and woods to Osmaston Park, reaching another of the estate’s lakes. This one has the best setting, with a lush meadow surround and the occasional heron.

As you continue along the track, heading north and back into the woods now, you’ll see an unexpected tower which is all that remains of Osmaston Manor. The tower was designed to accommodate all the hall’s various chimneys in one single stack. With this odd sight still lingering in your thoughts, the walk ends in fine ‘lord of the manor’ style as you walk down the manor’s main drive, saluted by a grand avenue of lime trees.

Walk directions

Turn right from the car park and follow the road past The Shoulder of Mutton pub to the village green and duck pond. Turn left and then take the middle of three rights of way. The gravel track rises slightly between fields and through attractive woodland. Descend past a farm to the left.

Pass between two elongated lakes, then beside an old water-powered sawmill. Stay on the track ahead, climbing up through mature woodlands and over a junction at the top, eventually gaining tarmac and descending towards Shirley.

Turn right at a T-junction, and descend to the Saracen’s Head public house.

Immediately before the pub, turn right down a gravel track, bend right then fork left beside a red-brick building. Cross a stile into fields, then bend sharp right, following the field edge. At the start of the next field turn left and follow Centenary Way markers along field edges. (You will bend right then cross a stile in the corner and turn right. Go diagonally right across the next field, then turn left). Now descend towards a wood, which is the southern extremity of Shirley Park

Fork right off the track at a gateway and on to a narrower track through grass. Cross an estate track, then over duckboards, and a footbridge over Shirley Brook. Further duckboards lead to a fork right. Cross another footbridge then follow the path through the woods. There’s a short bend left at a boggy section, then you join a rough brick-strewn track coming from a gateway to your left. Turn left at a track junction, then follow waymarkers ahead on the rough track. Look for a patch of mosaic tiling, possibly from the former hall.

Beyond a gate at the edge of the woods, ignore the Centenary Way path on the right. Instead, continue along a grassy vehicle track through the pasture ahead and alongside a pleasant lake, the southernmost of the Osmaston Park lakes.

Where the track bears diagonally left, continue ahead alongside the lake, then on a narrow track between old and new fences. You are walking through the Wyaston Brook Valley and, although the path is faint on the ground, the stiles in the cross-fences are all in place, if occasionally a tad rickety.

The bridleway from Wyaston Grove joins the route just beyond one of these stiles and is easily missed (grid ref SK195422). Double-back right along it, following some railings around to the right. Climb out of the valley and over a grassy hill. Just beyond the Tower View, this track becomes a tarmac drive. Turn left at two estate track junctions, then leave the estate on an avenue of lime trees. Emerge once more at the village green, pass the duck pond, then turn right to return to the car park

Additional information

Estate tracks and field paths, several stiles

Park, woodland and farm pasture

Dogs should be on lead

OS Explorer 259 Derby

Osmaston Village Hall car park on Moor Lane, next to school

None on route

Car park is hard to find - there's no sign, but it's just left of thatched school building/village hall and opposite some thatched cottages)

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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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