Walking: Rockley road ahead?

The baroque wing of wentworth castle in barnsley
The baroque wing of wentworth castle in barnsley

This is a walk mostly along defined paths and former railway tracks. Some sections can be boggy. There are short sections close to the M1.

You will pass close to a number of interesting and historical sites: Wentworth Castle and Gardens, the Duke of Argyle’s Monument, the Rotunda, Queen Anne Monument, Rockley Engine House and Forge, Rockley Old Hall, Worsbrough Mill and Wigfield Farm. Wentworth Park has both red and fallow deer. The deer give birth in June/July. The rut starts in October and the stags can become protective of their herds at both these times.

1. Leave the car park and follow signs to the Long Barn Visitor Centre. Before you reach the centre, turn left, downhill. Pass through the green gate and bear right, on the path, following the ‘Parkland Trail,’ take the right fork up the hill, keeping the fence on your right.

2. Leave the deer enclosure via another high metal gate and turn left onto the Great South Avenue.

3. At the end of the Avenue, pass through the gate and follow the path to your left. Pass through two more gates.

4. Continue following the path. After about 300m, turn right to visit the Rotunda (Grid Reference: SE 327 027. Built between 1742 and 1746 and restored in 2008, the Rotunda is said to be based on the Temple of Vesta in Rome.

5. Then pass through the metal gate at the far side of the Rotunda and follow the wide path. About 50m after the end of the deer park fencing, take an acute signed right turn into the woods.

6. If you wish to visit the obelisk, do not turn right. Instead, continue, then divert to your right to visit the obelisk. (Grid Reference: SE 332 029). Retrace your steps and turn left, back along your original direction turning left to rejoin our route at (7). The obelisk was built in 1734 to commemorate Thomas Wentworth’s patron Queen Anne, who died in 1714.

7. Take the turn immediately on your left. Continue through the woods.

When you reach a gate, continue through the gate, turning right and keeping the wall on your right.

8. Cross over the next stile then over the stone stile. After crossing a field, cross another stile and continue into the woods. You will pass a half-hidden stone structure on your left. At the next stile, turn sharp left down a wide track. (Grid Reference: SE 327 020).

9. Continue through the campsite, and cross Rockley Dike using the bridge. You will pass two mill ponds on your left before reaching the road. Turn left, then cross the road.

10. Continue past the Engine House, taking the path into the woods. Bear left over the footbridge, then right. Rockley Furnace is directly in front of you. Built around 1700, Rockley Furnace formed part of a trade syndicate in Yorkshire centered on the Spencers of Cannon Hall. It operated until 1741 with charcoal as fuel. It is thought that the furnace operated again around 1790, using coke fuel, to produce gun casting. Rockley Furnace made cast iron in the 18th century, using ores mined in the same valley and charcoal from the surrounding woodlands. Archaeological excavations took place between 1978 and 1982. These have shown that molten iron was cast from the hearth (now missing) in the base of the furnace, into moulds in a bed of sand to the west. The pigs of iron which were formed would be sent to finery forges such as Wortley Top Forge, to be converted into bar iron.

11. Retrace your steps to the road and turn right. After about 500m, turn right onto Old Hall Road. Pass over the M1 and continue into the grounds of Rockley Old Hall. Turn left at the first buildings, numbers 1 and 8 Rockley Old Hall was the site of the home of the Rockley family from the time of the Norman Conquest until about 1280 when it was lost by marriage to the Everingham family. The present hall is an Elizabethan building which has been added to.

12. Then follow the marked footpath along the farm track heading north into the fields. After one field, turn right along the track.

13. You will reach a crossroads, go straight ahead, signed, ‘Mill, Museum, Shops and Toilets’.

14. After about 200m, turn left. You will pass Worsbrough reservoir on your left. Continue along the banks of the reservoir. You will reach Worsbrough Mill. You may wish to divert into Worsbrough Mill, a 17th century working watermill. 19th century parts now house a recently restored Hornsby Hot Bulb Engine. This was originally used to drive millstones when water levels in the reservoir were low. Also on site is a gift shop and cafe. The 60-acre reservoir was built in 1804 to keep a head of water in the Worsbrough Spur of the Dearne & Dove Canal. It is a haven for wildlife and obtained Local Nature Reserve status in 2002.

15. Just before the mill buildings turn left, cross the footbridge over the mill stream. Go up onto the reservoir dam. Cross the dam over the spillways. To your right, at the base of the hill is a ‘goyt’ (stream). This was used to feed the canal. It runs under both houses and the A61.

16. At the end of the bridge, turn left following the reservoir banks. Ignore the signs for the TPT. After about 250 m, take the signed sharp right turn to pick up the TPT. Go left on the TPT, heading west. You may wish to divert into Wigfield Farm, a working farm which provides a base for Barnsley College courses in horticulture and animal care and an accessible open farm and visitors centre including café.

17. Continue along the TPT. You will follow the TPT for about 2km.

It is possible to see Wentworth Castle away to your left, on the other side of the M1.

18. After crossing the M1, you will pass under a bridge. Take the next left (18). This reaches a T-junction with Gilroyd Lane. Turn right, into the village of Stainborough, then cross Lowe Lane, onto Park Drive. Continue down Park Drive passing the Strafford Arms on your right.

19. Pass through the Strafford Gate, and through another gate before ascending to cross Serpentine Bridge.

Follow the drive from this elegant Palladian bridge into Stainborough Park towards Wentworth Castle and return to the start point.

Stainborough/Worsbrough circular

• Length – 8.0 miles

• Grade – Mostly well-defined paths, Trans-Pennine Trail (TPT), stiles and steady ascents

• Start – Wentworth Castle Car Park or Worsbrough Mill Car Park or TPT Kendal Green Crossing

• Car Park near Wigfield Farm

• Grid Reference – SE 322 034, SE 349 034 or SE 344 038

• Maps – OL1 Dark Peak, OS Explorer 278

• Public transport – Bus routes 14, 21, 23, 23A and 24 pass through Stainborough. Bus 66 to

Worsbrough Mill

• Refreshments – Strafford Arms, Wentworth Castle, MillersTea Rooms, Wigfield Farm

• Public Toilets – Long Barn Visitor Centre (Wentworth Castle), Worsbrough Mill, Wigfield Farm

• This walk is described, in detail, on Stocksbridge Walkers are Welcome Stocksbridge Walkers website.