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