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Joining the famous trackbed Tissington Trail between the differing villages of Parwich and Tissington.
Distance 4.3 miles (7km)
Minimum time 2hrs 30min
Ascent/gradient 525ft (160m)
Level of difficulty Medium
Paths Field paths, lanes and an old railway trackbed, lots of stiles
Landscape Village and rolling farm pastures
Suggested map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 24 White Peak
Start/finish SK 177522
Dog friendliness Mostly on farmland, keep dogs on leads
Parking The Tissington Trail pay car and coach park
Public toilets At car park
© AA Media Limited 2015. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153
1 From the car park follow the trackbed of the north east bound Tissington Trail (the former Ashbourne-to-Buxton railway, which closed in 1967). After about 800yds (732m), leave the trail and turn right, over a bridge and along a cart track.
2 Just past the first bend descend on the waymarked but trackless path into the valley of Bletch Brook, going through several stiles at the field boundaries and across
a footbridge spanning the brook itself. A more definite path establishes itself on the climb out of the valley. It reaches the top of a pastured spur, well to the right of a small cottage.
3 In the next high field the path follows a hedge on the left to a stile in the field corner. It then descends to a footpath signpost, which points the short way across the last field to the western edge of the village.
4 For those who want to explore the village turn right, otherwise turn left down the lane to Brook Close Farm. A signposted footpath on the left follows tractor tracks climbing to a ruined stone barn, beyond which lies the stile into the next field. The path now heads south-westwards to the top right-hand corner of the field, then follows a muddy tree-lined track for a few paces.
5 On entering the next field turn left, following the path. This first follows a hedge on the left, then descends to recross Bletch Brook via a footbridge. It climbs up the middle of the next long field before zig-zagging up the steep upper slopes to reach the bridge over the Tissington Trail. Go down to the trail and follow it north-westwards through the Crakelow cutting.
6 After about 500yds (457m) turn left, following the Tissington footpath over a stile to the right-hand corner of a field. Now follow a wall on the right, all the way down to Rakes Lane at the edge of Tissington.
7 Maintain your direction along the lane to reach Chapel Lane. You can walk either way round the village square. The hall and church are straight ahead, while the Methodist chapel and the Coffin Well are on Chapel Lane to the left. The car park lies to the south east of the square; take a left turn just beyond the Coffin Well.
The approach to Tissington is through a magnificent avenue of lime trees, and when you first see the place it completes the idyll of a perfect village. On one side of a huge green is Tissington Hall, the home of the Fitzherbert family since the reign of Elizabeth I: on the other a neat row of cottages and a slightly elevated Norman church. The trouble with Tissington is that it is too perfect, and to avoid the crowds you'll have to visit mid-week.
On this walk you save Tissington village for last, preferring instead to take to the Tissington Trail, the former trackbed of the Ashbourne-to-Buxton railway, which was closed by Dr Beeching in 1967. The route soon leaves the old track behind and descends into the valley of Bletch Brook, then out again onto a pastured hillside. Now you see Parwich, tucked in the next valley beneath a wooded hill. Overlooking the village is a fine 18th-century red-bricked building, Parwich Hall.
Parwich isn't as grand as Tissington, but it has a village green, and there's a duck pond too. We saw moorhens and their young swimming about among the tangled irises. But Parwich is a more peaceful place and the winding lanes are almost traffic-free in comparison. St Peter's Church is Victorian, but incorporates the chancel arch, and a carved tympanum from the old Norman church.
Leaving Parwich behind, the path continues over the hillside, back into the valley of Bletch Brook and the Tissington Trail, then back for a better look at Tissington. If you go round the lane clockwise you will pass the Methodist chapel before coming to one of Tissington's five wells, the Coffin Well. Every year on Ascension Day Tissington's locals dress these wells. This involves making a clay-covered dressing frame onto which pictures are traced. Flower petals are then pressed into the clay, creating the elaborate patterns and pictures you see. The ceremony is unique to Derbyshire and the Peak District. Originally a pagan ceremony to appease the gods into keeping pure water flowing, it was later adopted by the Christian religion. During the Black Death, when people from neighbouring villages were being ravaged by the plague, the Tissington villagers were kept in good health, due, they believe, to the pure water from the five wells.
Just past the Coffin Well there's a fine duckpond, complete with a handful of ever-hungry ducks, but most eyes will be on the magnificent Jacobean hall. If it's closed to visitors, you can view it through the fine wrought iron gates built by Robert Bakewell, or get an elevated view from the churchyard.
Sir Richard Fitzherbert has recently opened Tissington Hall to the public. Guided tours are available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons between late June and late August, and are well worth joining.
Many of the regularly ploughed fields of Parwich and Tissington will have few wildflowers in them, but take a look at the field-edges and the hayfields, for they will be rich in limestone-loving plants. In April and May, keep a watch for the increasingly rare cowslip (Primula veris). Its short single stem grows from a rosette of wrinkled leaves and its yellow flowers form a drooping cluster that can often be seen swaying in the breeze.
The Old Coach House tearooms serves morning coffee and afternoon teas 11am-5pm. The Sycamore Inn in Parwich looks a little plain from the outside, but it serves good bar meals. The Bluebell Inn near the exit gates of the Tissington Estate has a very good reputation for bar meals They have an extensive menu, which includes dishes like chicken in a creamy tarragon sauce.