Last week I found myself in Oxfordshire and enjoyed a couple of beautiful rural walks in and around the idyllic villages surrounding Oxford and Bicester. It’s a landscape of thatched cottages and village greens dotted around huge estates and country houses, the most notable of which is Blenheim Palace, the Churchill’s ancestral home. Wandering through the grounds got me thinking about the stately homes we have around Manchester and Stockport, there are Lyme Park and Dunham Massey both of which have great walks with plenty of deer and wildlife, but perhaps the most spectacular is Chatsworth, home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. A couple of weeks ago I had a beautiful walk in and around the grounds there.
I leave the village green at Nether End, Baslow and crossing Bar Brook follow a colourful male Pheasant along the path that leads me to the edge of the Chatsworth estate. The estate is a magnificent example of mature parkland (designed by Capability Brown) in which huge, ancient, beautiful trees stand tall amongst acres of rolling greenery. I pass the cricket pitch and follow the course of the Derwent before crossing it and continuing down to the picture postcard perfect English village of Edensor. It’s collection of stone clad cottages with gardens overflowing with flowers and vegetables all clustered round a church and green and is the kind of hamlet that could be used to advertise “Englishness” to an American tourist. I continue on uphill to Handley Lane, passing a couple of dry stone wallers as I lengthen my stride, and then drop down the hill towards Pilsley.
The sun is high in the sky now and I welcome the sight of The Eyre Arms at Hassop, a country inn bedecked with magnificent hanging baskets of brightly coloured flowers. After some refreshment I head towards the overgrown, weed tangled path that leads me through Bank woods South and North sending up flurries of butterflies ahead of me. The path drops down to Calver where I negotiate a field of inquisitive and slightly boisterous cattle before making the banks of the Derwent once more. I enjoy the last vestiges of shade as I meander through St. Mary’s woods on a path which takes me through more farmland to the hamlet of Bubnell. A short spell of road walking and I am crossing the beautiful old stone bridge in Baslow, there are a pair of Mute Swans on the river and Swallows and Swifts dip low over the water questing for flying insects. The sun is on my neck and an overwhelming feeling of contentment spreads over me as I take off my boots and socks and let the cool, clear river waters run over my feet.
I very much hope that you enjoy reading about my walks as much as I enjoy undertaking them. If you have any questions or enquiries about either my articles or guided walking in the UK please feel free to visit my webpage at www.comewalkwithmeuk.co.uk or e-mail me at Ian@comewalkwithmeuk.co.uk . Liking my facebook page or following me on twitter @cwwmuk will help you keep up to date with all my latest walks and general outdoor news. In the meantime, enjoy the ramblings of a rambler…