Starting and ending at the bus station in the centre of Matlock (served by the TrentBarton Sixes service and Stagecoach X17 service), this beautiful 4.3 mile route takes you out across open countryside on field paths to the pretty village of Bonsall, offering magnificent views along the way. It then follows country lanes and shady woodland trails, passing the Heights of Abraham hilltop estate, through Matlock Dale, and returns into Matlock via Dale Road, lined with independent shops, bars and cafés.
The walk starts on Bakewell Road in Matlock as you alight from the bus opposite the Market. Walk in a south-easterly direction towards the town centre and roundabout. Cross the road at the pedestrian crossing and then turn right at the roundabout to walk over the bridge that spans the River Derwent. Where the road bears left immediately after the bridge and becomes Dale Road, instead continue straight on into a narrow street and take the right hand fork into Snitterton Road.
After approx. 50 metres, turn left onto a public footpath, signed for the Limestone Way. As you quickly leave the houses behind, head straight on up a set of steps and through a gate into a field. Continue straight on through the field, ignoring the footpath that leads off to your left. Take time to pause and admire the spectacular views of Matlock behind you and Riber Castle to your left. Continue through a squeeze stile, across a lane and straight on into a tunnel of trees.
After the tunnel of trees, cross a step stile and continue roughly straight on following the clearly-signed footpath through a succession of fields for almost 1km, passing through squeeze stiles, another tunnel of trees and a series of gates. At a junction of paths take care to keep heading straight on towards a farmhouse (Masson Lees Farm); the path you need is narrow and enclosed by tall briar hedges on both sides. Continue straight on through two further fields to reach a small set of steps and emerge through a gate beside the farmhouse.
Cross straight over the farmhouse driveway and through a further wooden gate into a field. Continue roughly straight on for approx. 250 metres across two fields, crossing two step stiles, to emerge onto a narrow lane. Turn right on the lane for approx. 30 metres, and then take the path on the left beside a bench. This is a great spot for a rest if needed, with wonderful views back to Matlock.
Follow the clearly-signed footpath as it heads slightly diagonally right across fields for approx. 250 metres. Continue straight on at a junction of paths, ignoring the step stile to your right, and walk a further few metres to enter a gravelled area. Don't follow the stony track straight on towards the windmill (signed for Low Farm), but instead turn right and walk down the track. After approx. 25 metres, take the path on your left through a squeeze stile in the hedge.
Walk straight on across the fields on the clear path, keeping to the left of a row of prominent trees. Go through a squeeze stile, past a stone barn, and through two gates. The path curves to the left and runs between hedges. Continue through a wide wooden gate and then take the path on the right, following the clearly-signed Limestone Way footpath for approx. 600 metres all the way into the village of Bonsall, ignoring all other minor paths off.
You will emerge into Bonsall by the village cross, in front of the King’s Head pub. The pub serves good food and real ales if you need a pit stop, and it’s worth taking the time to explore this pretty village if you have time. To continue the walk, turn left just before you reach the cross and walk along Church Street. After approx. 200 metres, turn left onto Ember Lane.
Follow Ember Lane for approx. 750 metres until you reach an obvious junction of paths. Continue straight on through a wide metal gate. After 50 metres, look out for a further junction of paths, and this time take the path on the left that leads into woodland, signed for Matlock.
Follow this clear path through shady woodland for 500 metres. Very soon after entering the Heights of Abraham estate, the path forks. Take the right hand fork, heading roughly straight on. The path continues past the rear gates for the estate and through a wooden gate to emerge at a spectacular viewpoint overlooking Matlock Bath, Matlock, High Tor and Riber Castle. There’s a perfectly-positioned bench here to rest and admire the view.
To continue the walk, cross straight over the access road into the Heights of Abraham and follow the clear path downhill. As you exit the estate, passing a further sign, head straight on through a wooden gate and follow the path through thin woodland. The path bears left and continues through a further wooden gate, heading downhill across fields with wonderful views ahead.
At the foot of the hill the path bears left between two fences, through a further wooden gate, and then steeply downhill through trees for approx. 250 metres. Take care here as the limestone underfoot can be slippery. The path eventually emerges onto a narrow road (St John’s Road). Turn left on the road, looking out for the pretty chapel of St John The Baptist on the left. Follow St John’s Road downhill for approx. 300 metres until it emerges onto Dale Road.
Turn left on Dale Road and walk on the pavement beside this road all the way back into the centre of Matlock, passing many independent shops, bars and cafés along the way, perfect stopping points for refreshments if needed. Continue as the road bears right over the bridge across the River Derwent that you crossed at the start of the walk. Turn left at the roundabout and return to the bus stop opposite the Market where you began.
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