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Peak District Walks

Sir William Hill & Bretton Clough

Date: 11th June 2015
Distance: 5.7 miles
Ascent: 1347 feet
Time: 2 hours 30 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SK216767

Walk Summary:
A super walk from the 'plague' village of Eyam climbing over Sir William Hill and into the lovely Bretton Clough.

Route Summary: Eyam - Bole Hill - Sir William Hill Road - Sir William Hill - Stoke Ford - Bretton Clough - Nether Bretton - Highcliffe - Eyam

Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

The row of so-called Plague Cottages in Eyam
The cottage where George Viccars, the first plague victim, died on 7th September 1665
The 8th century Celtic cross in the churchyard at Eyam
The 'Plague Window' in Eyam's church depicting scenes from the plague
A field of buttercups below the wooded Eyam Edge
The steps climbing up through the woods on to Eyam Edge
Eyam Edge
Approaching the summit of Sir William Hill
The trig point on Sir William Hill
Enjoying the view from the modest edge on Sir William Hill
Looking back towards the summit of Sir William Hill
Looking across the Derwent valley to Hathersage and Stanage Edge
The super path dropping down from Eyam Moor into Bretton Clough
Posing on the small gritstone edge above Bretton Clough
The small edge above Bretton Clough
Looking across Bretton Clough towards Burton Bole
The flowering hawthorn trees were a major feature of Bretton Clough
A Peak District & Northern Counties Footpath sign near Stoke Ford
The little footbridge at Stoke Ford
Footpath heading away above Bretton Clough
Looking back towards the gritstone edge above Bretton Clough that I was stood on earlier in the walk
I was surprised to come across a few late patches of bluebells in the woods of Bretton Clough
A last look back at a now distant Bretton Clough
Looking towards the top of Sir William Hill
The leafy byway descending back in to Eyam

Walk Detail: I don't get many opportunities to visit the southern half of the Peak District so when I was planning a long weekend at a music festival in Derbyshire I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of the fact I was heading in that direction by taking an extra day off work and do some walking. My ambitious plan was to do three walks, stay overnight at a Youth Hostel and then travel to the music festival early the next morning.

My initial plan had been to do some walks around the Manifold valley but with the hostel at Hartington Hall fully booked I arranged to stay at the youth hostel in Youlgrave and amended my walking plans accordingly. The first walk on my revised itinerary was this walk from Eyam over the top of Sir William Hill before dropping down into Bretton Clough.

Eyam itself is a fascinating place and is famous as a 'plague village'. The village was struck by the bubonic plague in 1665 and over the course of the following year over 250 of the villagers died. The plaques outside the so-called 'Plague Cottages' where the plague took hold of its first victims bear grim testament to the devastating effect the outbreak had on individual families.

In truth the village was such a fascinating place I could have spent longer there but after visiting the stocks, taking a look at the plague cottages and having a look round the church I thought I'd better press one. I had an ambitious schedule to stick to!

From behind the church I followed a path leading up to a back road across which I then took some steep steps up through some woodland that brought me up on to Eyam Edge. Although largely wooded an open section provided good views back down to Eyam and west across this central section of the Peak District. From Eyam Edge I then followed a pasture below some pylons to cross the track called Sir William Hill Road and on to heathery Eyam Moor with the grassy summit of Sir William Hill just up to my left.

Immediately leaving the path across Eyam Moor I headed up to the trig point on Sir William Hill which featured some great views north over Mam Tor towards Kinder Scout and north-east towards Stanage Edge. Heading north from the trig I followed a modest edge to arrive back on the path and the start of a quite glorious descent in to Bretton Clough. Highlights of this section were the small gritstone edge immediately above the clough and the many hawthorn trees which were in full bloom.

From the small footbridge at Stoke Ford I then enjoyed an idyllic mile and a half in the woods and pastures of Bretton Clough before eventually climbing to meet a track at Nether Bretton. This track in turn led to a road and then on to some houses at Highcliffe where I took an old byway that descended through the trees back in to Eyam.

This was a super walk combining the historical interest of Eyam with the natural beauty of Bretton Clough and some fine views from Sir William Hill. While there are still plenty of places I want to visit in the Peak District this is definitely a walk I'd do again.

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