Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England and includes a large part of the Peak District National Park. The southern end of the Pennine Hills extends into the north of the county and the county also contains part of the National Forest. Derbyshire borders on Greater Manchester to the northwest, West Yorkshire to the north, South Yorkshire to the northeast, Nottinghamshire to the east, Leicestershire to the southeast, Staffordshire to the west and southwest and Cheshire also in the west. Derbyshire is known for being a diverse county with cities, towns and villages set in outstanding countryside with industry and leisure working together. Its main city is Derby, which although steeped in history, is one of Britain’s youngest cities and was awarded its Charter by HM the Queen in 1977. Derbyshire is a mixture of rural economy in the west and coal mining was the industry in the north and south and also in the Erewash Valley. The landscape varies from arable country in the flat areas of the south of Derby to hill farming of the high grit stone moorlands of the southern Pennines to the north of the city. The county is also rich in natural resources such as lead, iron, coal and limestone. The arrival of railways in the late 19th century and early 20th century led to a large number of stone quarry industries and although they have left their mark on the countryside today stone quarrying is still a major industry.
The Peak District is made up of two areas The White Peak which is a limestone plateau of green fields with rolling hills and many dales and The Dark Peak (or High Peak) which is a series of higher, wilder and boggier grit stone moorlands. The Peak District is also known as the Derbyshire Peak District and also covers areas of Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, Cheshire, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire. Although there are no prominent boundaries the central and most rural area of the Peaks lie within the Peak District National Park. The National Park, the first to be set up in Britain, covers 555 square miles three quarters of which lie within Derbyshire and the other quarter in parts of Cheshire, Greater Manchester and South and West Yorkshire and 12% of the park is owned by the National Trust a charity which aims to conserve historic and natural landscapes and does not receive government funding. The Peak District National Park Authority provides public facilities such as car parks, public toilets, visitor centres and also maintains the rural nature of the park although most of the land is still owned by the traditional landlords.
Eyam is a village within the Peak District National Park famous for an outbreak of bubonic plague in 1665. The outbreak occurred when a flea infested bundle of cloth arrived from London for the local tailor. Within a week his assistant was dead and soon more in the household began dying. As the disease started to spread the village went into voluntary isolation in 1666 and introduced a number of precautions to slow down the illness. The plague ran its course over 14 months killing many of the villagers but others even though they had close contact with those who died never caught the disease. Some of the houses in Eyam and parts of the village have been kept as they looked several centuries ago, especially the area at Townend, around the Miner’s Arms. Many of the buildings also have plaques giving details of their history and the part their inhabitants played in the Plague saga, notably the Plague Cottages, where the outbreak began, which are on the main street on the west side of the church. Plague Sunday has been celebrated in the village since its 200th anniversary in 1866. The church of St Lawrence in the centre of the village has two Norman columns and may be built on Saxon foundations dates mainly from the 13th and 14th centuries. The Saxon cross, Grade I listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, in the churchyard possibly 9th century is carved with a mixture of pagan and Christian symbols. The church holds many relics of the Plague including gravestones of victims and the Parish Register recording their deaths. The only pub in the village is the Minor’s Arms built in 1630. It is the former meeting place of the Barmote Court which dealt with lead mining disputes and is said that it is one of the most haunted buildings in Derbyshire. There is also a youth hostel, Eyam Hall and Craft Centre and a small museum opposite the car park. Eyam Hall, a grit stone Jacobean manor house, was built in 1671 six years after the plague. The hall is open to visitors in the summer months. The craft centre built in the Hall’s former stable yard houses a collection of locally run craft shops, a cafe and National Trust shop. To the north-west high above the village is the Barrel Inn at Bretton which dates back to 1597 and claims to be the highest pub in Derbyshire therefore the views are stunning and on a clear day it is possible to see five counties. To the west of the village lies Little and Greater Waterfall Swallet both are good examples of natural potholes. The water that disappears into these swallets reappears near Stoney Middleton. Eyam’s industry was lead mining, silk weaving and shoe making. It was the discovery of the Hucklow Side Vein in 1777 that led to the boom in lead mining for the next 100 years. Next to the village school is a mound which still houses the shaft of Glebe Mine, a lead mine which was later worked for fluorspar until 1965. Townhead factory on the west of the village was built as a silk mill and in the centre of the village is the former shoe factory. Eyam had one of the earliest public water supplies of anywhere in the area and parts of this system can still be seen. Eyam, promoted as ‘the plague village’, is now a tourist attraction relying on the many visitors and coach loads of school children.
Eyam Moor which lies north above Eyam is a great area for walking providing lovely views across the Derwent valley and also where Bronze Age remains and monuments can be found. Most of the stone circles and earth barrows on the moors have been destroyed but some do remain one being the Wet Withens stone circle.
Stoke Ford is an area where three streams meet at the bottom of the steep sided valleys of Bretton Clough and Abney Clough. This is a great area for a picnic. The ancient path that leads steeply down to the footbridge was part of the main packhorse route from Eyam to Bradwell.
At the entrance to the car park we turn right up the road. At the right hand bend we head straight forward uphill on a no-through tarmac road called The Nook. The tarmac road becomes a stony track and we continue steeply uphill until we meet a small road. We turn right along the road and turn left over the stone stile at the public footpath sign. We head straight forward through the fields passing the old Lady Wash Mine on our right. At the track we cross straight over crossing the stile and follow the path over Eyam Moor with splendid views. As we head downhill we come to a wall. We cross over the stile and head forwards following the track along the edge with the wall on our right. The track bears right we go through a gate and after passing a building on our right we start to go steeply downhill. At the t-junction of paths we turn right downhill to Stoke Ford at the bottom. We then retrace our steps uphill to the t-junction of paths and head forwards with the stream down below on our right. We keep heading forward following the path through the trees. We cross over a stream and keep heading forward following the path which soon bears left taking us into some more trees. We cross over another stream and then turn left through the gate with a yellow arrow. We head uphill along Bretton Clough until we come to a seat, we turn left. After a short way we come to an iron gate. We do not go through the gate but turn right over the stile. We soon go through a gate and after passing a house on our left we come to a tarmac track we turn right. At the road we turn left past the pub then take the right turn at the footpath sign downhill to go through the gate. We now follow the path slightly left downhill to the buildings of Black Hole Mine. We come to a stony track and keep to the outside of the buildings. Just before the track bends to the right we take the little path to the left. When we reach a building in front of us we turn right and then at the main road we turn left back into Eyam.
This is an easy to moderate walk on easy to follow paths and tracks with a couple of steep inclines and declines.
Elevation: Approx lowest point 205.80m (675.2ft) approx highest point 406.3m (1333ft) approx total ascent 376m (1234ft)
Distance and Start Point
Approx 5.4 miles allow 3 hours using OS Explorer Map OL24, The Peak District White Peak area.
Start point: Eyam car park.
Eyam is in the White area of the Peak District, Derbyshire.
Directions and Parking
From the M1 take junction 36 at the roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A61. At the main t-junction turn left still on the A61. On the dual carriage way turn right at the 2nd roundabout onto the A6101 at the end turn right onto the A57 towards Glossop and then turn left at Ladybower Reservoir onto the A6013. After passing through Bamford continue to the T-Junction. Turn left onto the A6187 to Hathersage. After going under the railway line continue on the main road and take the right turn onto the B6001 to Grindleford. At the t-junction turn right onto the B6521. At the y-junction take the right fork still on the B6521 to Eyam. Just after the telephone box turn right, the car parks are on the right.
Parking: There are two car parks adjacent to each other. One is free and the other is pay and display £5.50 all day.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are public toilets in the pay and display car park. For refreshments there is the Minor’s Arms pub and several tea rooms and shops. There is also a pub the Barrel Inn at Bretton on top of the hill above Eyam.