Youlgrave 3 mile walk
...nice and easy does it
Youlgrave sits on a shelf of land between the Rivers Bradford and Lathkill, and this walk links the two, taking in the lower reaches of the Lathkill to where it joins the Bradford at Alport...
Youlgrave, Bradford and Lathkill Dales
Youlgrave was an important centre for lead mining for many centuries, and its name is thought to be derived from the Old English for “yellow grove” – a groove being the old name for a lead vein. It sits on a shelf of land between the Rivers Bradford and Lathkill, and this walk links the two, taking in the lower reaches of the Lathkill to where it joins the Bradford at Alport.
Although local people prefer the old spelling of “Youlgrave,” which is how it is pronounced, the Ordnance Survey insists on the extra “e” for the village, which also has the confusing local nickname of “Pommy.” Youlgrave has the distinction of having its own water supply from the River Bradford, and its well-dressings, held in June, are centred on The Fountain, the water tank built in 1829 in the centre of the village.
The parish church of All Saints has one of the finest Perpendicular towers in the county, and a mainly Norman nave in which the alabaster effigy tombs of the Cockayne family are particularly fine. Youlgrave’s former Co-op is now the Youth Hostel, and where the boast is that men can sleep in a dormitory labelled: “Ladies Underwear.”
Walk down Bradford Lane by the side of the church to reach the river. Cross a minor road and pass the ford which gives the river its name and across a footbridge to the opposite bank.
Bradford Dale, short and well sheltered by trees, is the haunt of dipper and kingfisher. In its upper reaches, near Middleton-by-Youlgrave, the dale has some fine crags and caves where, during the Civil War, Sir Christopher Fullwood of that village was shot and killed as he tried to hide from Parliamentary forces.
Turn left and follow the riverside path, beneath the towering, tree-topped limestone cliff of Rheinstor. Cross the bridge to enter the hamlet of Alport.
This pretty little hamlet at the junction of the Bradford with the Lathkill has some fine old buildings such as the old corn mill and the 17th century gable-fronted Monks Hall. The bridge was built in 1718 to replace a ford.
Walk up through the village and cross the A524 Youlgrave road to a stile and a path which goes through a succession of stiles as it follows a fence above the River Lathkill, to the right. You cross the minor road to Raper Lodge and then out onto another minor road, carefully avoiding the traffic, just above Conksbury Bridge. Turn right here and down to the narrow Conksbury Bridge.
The Old English name of Conksbury means “Crane’s or Crannuc’s fortified place,” and an Iron Age hillfort has been identified on the limestone hills above. The present bridge is medieval, first mentioned in 1269, and the remains of an extensive deserted medieval village have been traced in the fields above the river to the west.
Follow the footpath along the river upstream from the bridge, now on the northern bank, passing a series of weirs in the river built to encourage the spawning of trout. A limestone crag now hangs over the opposite, heavily wooded bank. Through a series of stiles, you reach Lathkill Lodge and the entrance to the National Nature Reserve.
Cross the river at Lathkill Lodge by the slabbed clapper bridge and ascend steeply up the hairpin farm track through Meadow Place Wood and out onto pastureland where two gates give access to the buildings of Meadow Place Grange.
Meadow Place Grange
The neat layout of the farm buildings around a central courtyard mark Meadow Place Grange as a classic medieval grange site, in this case, associated with the Augustinian foundation of Leicester Abbey.
Go between the stables and barn and climb up to the wall corner beyond the grange. There is a fine backward view of the layout of the grange from here, with the wooded gash of Lathkill Dale beyond.
Take the diagonal path which leads through stiles across three fields until the Conksbury Lane is reached. This is crossed by facing stiles which lead to a path which crosses the end of the Long Rake lead vein.
A rake is a major lead vein where the ore was deposited between two vertical walls of rock. They can run in a straight line for many miles across country, and they have were usually worked out by the old lead miners to a considerable depth underground, so can be potentially dangerous to explore. As in the case of Long Rake, they are usually planted with trees which keep livestock from grazing the lead-poisoned, or “bellanded,” ground around them. Long Rake, along with other rakes, is still being worked to extract calcite and flourspar, which are now much more valuable than lead.
Continue on this path until it runs into Moor Lane. Turn left here and follow the lane back to your starting point in Youlgrave.
Start/finish: Youlgrave, reached by buses from Bakewell
Distance: About 5 km/3 miles
Approximate time: Allow two hours
Highest point: On Conksbury Lane, 267m/876ft
Map: OS Explorer Sheet 24, The White Peak
Refreshments: Pubs in Youlgrave.
Terrain: Easy riverside and field walking
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