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Marching Roads and Battlefields

Following the ancient roads over Win Hill to the Roman Fort at Navio, via the site of an ancient battle.

Distance 8.7 miles (14km)

Minimum time 5hrs

Ascent/gradient 1,050ft (320m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Paths can be slippery after rain, quite a few stiles

Landscape Riverside pastureland and high peak

Suggested map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 1 Dark Peak

Start/finish SK 149829

Dog friendliness Dogs should be kept on leads, except on high fell

Parking Main Castleton pay car park

Public toilets At car park

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1 Turn left out of the car park along the main street. At the far end of the village turn right on a walled stony lane and continue along a well-defined path accompanying Peakhole Water. Cross the railway with care and continue along the path to its end at Pindale Road.

2 Turn left here, then right at the next junction. After about 100yds (91m), go over a stile by a gate and follow the path running roughly parallel to the lane at first, then the River Noe, to reach the site of the Roman fort of Navio. Beyond the earthworks go over a stile in a fence and bear half right across another field to reach the B6409 road at Brough.

3 Turn left through the village and cross the footbridge over the River Noe. Go left over a stile and head north west to the A625. Turn left along the road for 200yds (183m) to a small gate just beyond a cottage. Follow the hedge and dyke on the right to pass to the right of some houses.

4 Turn left along the lane towards the railway station, then go right along a narrow path which leads to a footbridge over the line. Cross the bridge and turn right at its far end, then left over a stile to cross yet more fields, this time keeping the fence on your right.

5 When you reach Aston turn left along the road, then almost immediately turn right along a narrow, surfaced lane, signposted 'To Win Hill'.

6 Beyond Edge Farm an unsurfaced track on the left takes the route along the top edge of some woods to a path junction above Twitchill Farm. Now climb right on a well-used path to Win Hill's summit.

7 From the summit retrace your steps back to the junction above Twitchill Farm. This time descend left past the Farm, to the railway.

8 Turn left under the railway tunnel, where the lane doubles back left and winds its way to Kilhill Bridge, then the Edale Road. Turn right along the road, under the railway bridge, then turn left on a field path.

9 By a cottage turn right on a path climbing towards Lose Hill. Take the left fork at a signposted junction of paths to follow a waymarked route westwards to Spring House Farm.

10 Beyond the farmhouse, turn right along a stony track heading west behind Losehill Hall. Where the lane swings left, leave it to follow a cross-field path, which joins an unsurfaced lane. After passing the outdoor activity centre, turn left along Hollowford Road, back into Castleton.

Leaving Castleton beneath Peveril Castle's Norman keep sets the scene for a walk through history. You're treading the same ground as Roman soldiers and Celtic and Saxon warriors before you.

The walk takes you onto the hillside beyond the sycamores of the River Noe. As you amble across green pastures overlooking the Hope Valley, cast your imagination back to the dark days of ad 926. Down there in the valley below you, a furious tribal battle ended in victory for King Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great. He would soon become the first Saxon ruler of all England.

In one of those riverside fields the path comes across the earthwork remains of the Roman fort, Navio. Built in the time of Emperor Antoninus Pius, the fort stood at a junction of roads serving garrisons at Buxton, Glossop, and Templeborough. At its peak it would have sheltered over 500 soldiers. It remained occupied until the 4th century, controlling the rich mining area around the Peak. Many Roman relics found near the fort can be viewed at the Buxton Museum.

Win Hill looms large in your thoughts as you cross to the other side of the valley and climb towards it. As you're passing through the hamlet of Aston take a quick look at Aston Hall. Built in 1578, it has an unusual pedimented window with a weather-worn carved figure. The doorway is surrounded by Roman Doric columns and a four-centred arch.

Beyond the hall the climb begins in earnest up a stony track, then through bracken and grass hillside where Win Hill's rocky summit peeps out across the heathered ridge. A concrete trig point caps the rocks. And what a view to reward your efforts! The Ladybower Reservoir's sinuous shorelines creep between dark spruce woods, while the gritstone tors of Kinder Scout, the Derwent Edge, and Bleaklow fill the northern horizon, framed by the pyramidal Lose Hill.

There are several theories on how Win Hill got its name. The most likely one is that it derives from an earlier name, Wythinehull, which meant Willow Hill. The one I prefer though concerns two warlords, Edwin, the first Christian king of Northumbria, and Cuicholm, King of Wessex. Cuicholm murdered Lilla, Edwin's maidservant, and Edwin was looking for revenge. Cuicholm assembled his forces on Lose Hill, while his enemy camped on Win Hill. Edwin, was victorious and thus his hill was named Win Hill. Now you follow

What to look for

Hope is on the edge of limestone country. Often you can see the change in the dry-stone walls. Those in the valley are made from paler limestone, while those on the Win Hill slopes are of the darker gritstone. These walls were mostly built between 1780 and 1820, when enclosure of upland areas was taking place at a prolific rate right across the country. Although expensive to build and repair, they're are now considered to be an integral part of the Peakland landscape and various conservation bodies devote time to training new generations of skilled wallers.

While you're there

If you're here on August Bank Holiday Monday you should visit the Hope Agricultural Show and sheepdog trials.

Where to eat and drink

The Castle in Castle Street serves Bass beer and good bar meals. Closer to hand you could seek out the Woodbine Café in Hope which serves pies, bacon sandwiches and hot drinks.

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