This walk begins and ends in the popular Peak District town of Bakewell and is approximately 5 ½ miles in length. It takes in mature woodland, rolling parkland and the chocolate box village of Edensor, on the spectacular Chatsworth estate.
Most of the paths are well-walked and marked, but some through the woodland are less defined and can be slippery in wet weather, especially on the hilly parts.
The easiest place to begin is at the back of the large modern cattle market (Grid Ref SK2268, Post code DE45 1BU) off Coombs Road, where you will find ample pay and display parking if you arrive by car.
From the rear of the market, follow the brown sign for the Monsal Trail which takes you onto Coombs Road, where you bear right and walk a short distance to the first corner. Just after the bend, turn left up a driveway signed “The Outrake”.
Where the drive bends to the left, you then take a right, onto a footpath which crosses the Monsal Trail and continues upwards on an asphalt path beside a field of rather charming alpacas. It is worth pausing for a few moments here, not only to admire these inquisitive creatures, but also to look back on a wonderful view of Bakewell.
Moving off again, you reach a small wooden gate leading you upwards through the golf course towards Manners Wood - look out for low-flying golf balls; there is a “bell” to clank if you feel the need to alert the players to your presence, or if you just fancy making a noise. On entering the wood, you will see that there are other paths, forming a woodland trail through the Haddon estate.
The public footpath (our route) climbs steeply, leaving these tracks behind - the crucial point to note is where our path turns quite rocky (and indeed in the winter may even resemble the bed of a small stream) - do not be deterred, this is the way, though tricky for a short spell.
Keep straight on up, aiming for the top of the wood, where the last 200 yards rise steeply to a small gate which will take you into the fields above the Haddon estate. There is little to see of the path, but the arrow points you diagonally to the right - aim for the right-hand edge of a small clump of trees to get the direction correct.
As you top the rise towards the trees, the splendour of the Peak District reveals itself as you find yourself in miles and miles of unspoilt rolling landscape surrounded by distant moorland; it is truly spectacular.
If you were to turn back at this point, the walk would have been well worth the effort, but there is more to discover, so head onwards, to a small lake just beyond the clump of trees.
There are two paths close together here - you can take either, but our walk describes the route which keeps you higher for longer, following the line of Manners Wood to the South East.
It is generally a quieter path than the other and takes you past a trio of tumuli, before joining a bridleway which exits the wood. At this point, turn left down the bridleway and aim for the lower part of Calton Plantations.
On reaching the plantations, pass through and then turn immediately right, following the edge of the wood and climbing gently to where you can look down on Calton Houses, nestling in the hollow between the hills.
The path is fairly obvious here and bears round and uphill to New Piece Wood which you also traverse.
As you climb the stone stile out of here, the majesty of Chatsworth House is suddenly exposed before you and the unexpected view is breathtaking.
Now in Chatsworth’s open parkland, aim for the estate village of Edensor - you will see the church spire approximately half a mile ahead.
As you near the edge of the churchyard, the path skirts round to the left where steps lead up to a metal gate which will take you into the village itself.
Apart from the shop-cum-tea-rooms (seasonal opening), you won’t find any other outlets for refreshment, but a look around the village is an absolute must.
It is surely one of the most attractive places in the Peak District and has a fine church to boot. The church of St Peter was re-designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the prolific Victorian architect who designed the iconic Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station.
Buried in the churchyard is another eminent Victorian, the former Chatsworth Head Gardener, Sir Joseph Paxton, and yet another famous intern is Kathleen Kennedy, sister of John F, who was married to the eldest son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire.
Having explored the chalet-style village fully, head back up the main street to where the road peters out and turns into a stony track, which inclines for around half a mile to meet the quiet, metalled road known as Handley Lane.
From here you look out towards Longstone Edge with Hassop nestling below, and a more distant sighting of Great Longstone to the North West.
After a little more gentle up-hill walking, the lane starts to descend towards Ballcross Farm and at this point, you enter back into Manners Wood, a quarter of a mile higher up than where you exited earlier.
Initially, the route down is obvious but after a little way take care not to be misled by other paths leading off.
Keep heading downwards, more or less straight and you will pass through the golf-course once more, again, a little to the north of your earlier crossing.
Eventually, you will reach the former Bakewell Station on the Monsal Trail. It is easy to head down into the town from here, but a nicer end is to follow the trail SE to the next bridge where the footpath leads up and over the bridge to the field with the alpacas. Don’t be fooled by the sign on the trail which points straight ahead for “Coombs Road” - this is for cyclists and riders.
The way back is simple now, following the same route as earlier - down The Outrake, along Coombs Road and back to the car park.
Passing through the car park and over the Wye footbridge, the path into town is easy and here you will find ample pubs and café’s for your chosen refreshment.
Bakewell Circular Walk (Monsal Trail)
• A popular walking location in the Peak District, this walk starts and finishes in the town of Bakewell and totals around 5.5 miles.
• The trail itself is marked with brown signs that read Monsal Trail, so you never need to worry about getting lost on your way. It’s a beautiful walk, although unfortunately unsuitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
• Distance: 5.5 miles/2hours
• Grid Reference: SK2268
• Time to Walk: Two hours
• This walk was written and produced by Wonderful Wellies for more interesting walks please visit Wonderful Wellies