Have you ever watched Forrest Gump? I’m sure you must have, but it’s easy to forget that it came out 23 years ago and not all of you are in your mid-30s like me – simultaneously astonishing and depressing. For those of you who haven’t seen it, there’s a scene where Forrest tells the story of his epic run across America.
That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of the town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama.
“What does Forrest Gump have to do with hill walking in the Peak District?” I hear you ask.
“Not a hell of a lot,” I reply. “But there is a tenuous link.”
I’ve been to Bakewell many, many times. Byways Tea Rooms used to be my favourite weekly haunt for pre-walk sustainance before a few average breakfasts sent me hunting for different sausages, the branch of Cotswold Outdoor there is my favourite outdoor shop by a country mile because the staff are incredible, and Bloomers of Bakewell does the best original Bakewell pudding (they just do, and let that be an end of it).
For me, Bakewell was a pleasant place to stop for food and try on aspirational walking kit on the way to a wherever the walk started. It had never occured to me to start a walk from Bakewell before. In that way, it’s a little like Forrest Gump’s run… stumbling upon a lovely route from Bakewell to Chatsworth just kind of happened. You just start walking and keep going.
“I just felt like walking.”
This 7.2 mile walk – it’s much more of a stroll than a hike, though you’ll still need your Big Boots to conquer the mud – starts and ends in Bakewell and will take you to Chatsworth House, which has been home to the Cavendish family since 1549 and is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire.
Standing on the east bank of the River Derwent, Chatsworth House is set in an expansive parkland backed by wooded, rocky hills. It contains an impressive collection of paintings, furniture, Old Master drawings, neoclassical sculptures, books and other artefacts – I’d recommend you plan to visit the inside of the house on another day as I expect, though I’m making assumptions, that they’ll be as welcoming of muddy boots as your average wine bar.
I recommend doing this walk in winter if you can, although it’s fantastic year-round. In the colder months, you’ll have the frosty meadows to yourself and will have a better chance of seeing wildlife, like the herds of deer that graze in the mature Capability Brown-designed grounds.
There are several car parks to choose from in Bakewell, all of which will cost you about £4-5, but make sure you check the closing times if you’re not likely to be back by 6pm. Some of them, like Smith’s Island Car Park, have gates that are promptly closed and your car will become impounded.
If you like to follow this walk, I’ve made the ViewRanger and OS Maps routes available for free. You’ll find links to both at the end of this post.
Bronze Age Views
Leaving Bakewell, the walk ascends to the windy heights of Calton Pastures via Bakewell golf course. I’ve never been into golfing. A friend took me to a driving range once, but all I wanted to do was hit the ball as hard as I could with the big wooden bat. He said that was uncouth, so I never bothered to go back. If you like your golfing, however, Bakewell golf course must be one of the most scenic in the country.
The meadows here are scattered with 4,000-year old Bronze Age burial mounds, all of which have been fenced off to prevent erosion. It’s still worth standing to admire the view across the Eastern Moors and Stanage Edge that our ancestors must once have enjoyed.
The Russian Cottage
One of the most surprising parts of this walk for me is the black and white Russian Cottage you pass after turning north as you leave Calton Pastures. Looking rather out of place in the landscape, it was built by the 6th Duke of Devonshire to accommodate Russian Tsar Nicholas I in 1844, but the Tsar never visited due to more pressing matters at home.
Capability Brown’s Landscape
From here, you’ll pass through a walled lane through pines before you arrive at a gate to take in what must be one of the finest views of a stately home in the country. As you walk across Capability Brown’s landscape, you might be lucky enough to see Chatsworth’s famous herds of red and fallow deer before you take a route of your choosing up to Paine’s Bridge. This is a great spot to take photos and is ever-popular on the Chatsworth House Instagram account. They were kind enough to feature one of my photos there recently (the one you see as the featured image on this post), which was taken on the walk I did this week.
Once you’ve taken in ‘the Palace of the Peak’ and its grounds, your walk returns to Bakewell via the banks of the Derwent, towards Calton Lees, and finally you retrace your steps across the golf course back to the Bakewell pudding shop of your choice. Rather pleasingly, I literally got to retrace my steps on this walk as they were the only footprints marking the snow in the meadows.
Follow Our Route