Bakewell to Chatsworth 8 mile walk

...starting and finishing in the Peak's capital

This walk takes to the hills east of Bakewell to visit the Duke of Devonshire’s famous stately home of Chatsworth...

Chatsworth from Bakewell

Bakewell is the natural “capital” and largest town within the Peak District National Park. This walk takes to the hills east of Bakewell to visit the Duke of Devonshire’s famous stately home of Chatsworth in the neighbouring valley of the River Derwent, and returns over a landscape dotted with evidence of prehistoric settlement. 



Bakewell’s Monday livestock market now takes place in the ultra-modern Agricultural and Business Centre building, continuing a tradition which has lasted for at least 1,000 years. The right to hold the weekly market was granted in 1330, and it is still the major meeting and trading place for Peak District farmers.Bakewell’s ancient origins are reflected in the many Saxon stones in its hilltop parish church of All Saints, which also has two magnificent Saxon crosses in its sloping churchyard. 


From the Old Market Hall, cross the 14th century bridge over the Wye and then right again into Coombs Lane. After a few yards turn left at a footpath sign opposite the entrance to the Agricultural Centre and showground which leads up a track which crosses  the Monsal Trail by a bridge and on a fenced path through the golf course and into Manners Wood. Follow the track and stream which leads steeply up through the wood to a ladder stile and out onto Calton Pastures. The path leads up past a pond, through New Piece Plantation, to another stile and a grandstand view of Chatsworth House and Park. To the left is the planned village of Edensor, which you now drop down to across the parkland. 



The estate village of Edensor (pronounced “Ensor”) was created by the 6th Duke of Devonshire between 1838 and 1842. It is said that no two houses are to the same design, and that the Duke chose one of each from an architectural pattern book. The splendidly-proportioned parish church, built in 1867 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, houses many memorials to the ruling Cavendish family. There are more Devonshire family tombs in the churchyard, including the simple marble slab to Kathleen Kennedy, sister of President John Kennedy and the widow of the Marquis of Hartington, who was killed in an aircraft crash. 


Cross the road and the bridge over the River Derwent to visit the house. 


Chatsworth House

Chatsworth, the Derbyshire home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, is one of Britain’s most-visited stately homes. The present house was built in the Palladian style by the 4th Earl of Devonshire between 1678 and 1707, but it stands on the site of a much-earlier Tudor mansion built by the legendary Bess of Hardwick, of which only the Hunting Tower now remains in the Stand Woods behind the house. There is also a popular Childrens’ Farmyard and Adventure Playground in the woods behind the house, where walks lead up to the lakes which feed the spectacular Emperor Fountain in the immaculate gardens of the house. 


The grounds of Chatsworth were landscaped by Lancelot “Capability” Brown in the 1760s, who altered the course of the River Derwent and was reponsible for planting the many fine trees which grace the parkland, and where herds of both red and fallow deer can be seen grazing today. 


From Chatsworth House, walk downstream past the ruins of an old water mill to Calton Lees, where you cross the road and walk up past the Garden Centre for about a mile to Calton Houses and up a bridleway out onto Calton Pastures again.


Calton Pastures and Ball Cross

The open grasslands of Carlton Pastures are dotted with a now-fenced series of Bronze Age tumuli, or burial mounds, which occupy the highest points of the ridge. It seems that the people who occupied this land up to 4,000 years ago venerated these high places, and used them to bury their leaders. In every case, these burial mounds have a distinctive crater in their tops, evidence of the work of Victorian archaeologists like Thomas Bateman of Middleton-by-Youlgrave, who systematically excavated the cremated remains buried inside. Each tumulus still provides the same sweeping views across to the Eastern Moors that those Bronze Age people would have enjoyed.


At the northern end of the pastures, fenced off with no public access, can be seen the embankments of the Ball Cross Iron Age hillfort, which occupies a strategic promontory overlooking the valley of River Wye. This was never a fort in the military sense, but more likely a small fortified farmstead which may have been destroyed when the Romans arrived. 


You now have a choice of routes. You can either retrace your steps through Manners Wood and across the golf course back to Bakewell, or continue on the farm track past Ball Cross towards Ball Cross Farm, turning left on reaching a minor road and then left again down through the woods and back to the former Bakewell Station on the Monsal Trail. From here, it is a short step down Station Road and back across the bridge into Bakewell. 



Start/finish: Car parks in Bakewell.

Distance: 13 km/8 miles

Approximate time: Allow 4-5 hours, more if visiting Chatsworth

Highest point: Calton Pastures 289m/948ft

Map: OS Explorer Sheet 24 (White Peak)

Refreshments: Plenty of pubs and restaurants in Bakewell, restaurant at Chatsworth

Terrain: Can be muddy, especially through Manners Wood, but mostly easy going through pasture and woodland. 

These walks have been adapted from Roly Smith’s Rambler’s Guide to the Peak District, published by HarperCollins in 2000.

Copyright Let's Stay Peak District 2010

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015