Autumn in the Derbyshire Peak District is wonderful. The ever changing colours of the landscape are so inspiring and above all else, what better way to wind down and get some much-needed fresh air and exercise than a woodland walk beside a babbling brook?
Padley gorge is a beautiful location and not surprisingly the valley is part of the Yarncliff Wood, Padley Site of Special Scientific Interest, or a SSSI, designated in 1972 as “the best example of the remnant oak-birch woodland that once covered much of the edges of the gritstone uplands of the Peak District. “Mentioned in the citation, there are three species of Umbilicaria lichen said to be very rare in the Midlands and describes the site as a breeding site for pied flycatcher, wood warbler and hawfinch.
The Burbage brook used to form the boundary between Yorkshire and Derbyshire, but the boundary now follows the A625 Hathersage Road. Padley gorge begins near Grindleford train station where you can find parking and a lovely café, there are a few delightful walks to take from here and a visit to Martyrs Chapel at Padley is worth a peek if you have the time.
The gorge is a breathtaking route, with evidence of ancient woodland. You’ll find lots of moss-covered rocks and boulders throughout the route and the relaxing babbling of the Burbage brook that runs through the valley, Padley gorge ends at the edge of the woodland, close by the Longshaw estate. There are multiple crossing points, some interesting, photogenic wooden bridges to cross the brook and some fantastic locations close by such as the picturesque village of Hathersage.
A favourite walk of mine is one in which I take the train to Grindleford station with my family and we walk through Padley gorge across a bridge and up through an old quarry where you’ll find a multitude of mill stones of all sizes at Lawrencefield and descending via the river Derwent and into Hathersage village.
On our most recent visit we had parked on the B6521 near to the usual location of the Padley ice-cream van, not an ice-cream in sight though on our mid-week visit, such a shame. 😊 We booted up and hitched up the dog’s leads for a walk into the valley, the dogs had a paddle and we all had fun throwing up the crisp autumn leaves and taking photos while we explored.
I believe woodlands are of great importance to our national heritage, for our native wildlife species and for our own wellbeing. Woodlands are reducing at an increasingly rapid rate and only a small portion of the UK is currently covered by woodland. Ancient woodland is also at threat even though it has been proven to be an important environment for nature. Ancient woodland is crucial to the survival of many of our native species of flora and fauna.
*The area of woodland in the UK at 31 March 2018 is 3.17 million hectares. This represents 13% of the total land area in the UK, 10% in England, 15% in Wales, 19% in Scotland and 8% in Northern Ireland. (Taken from a 2018 report, by Forest Research.gov.uk).
After a walk into the valley, we detoured upwards towards Owler Tor and Surprise View which borders Hathersage. From above the valley there are some good vistas of the surrounding areas, Carl Wark the Iron Age fort on Hathersage moor can be seen from here and makes another interesting place to visit while in the area if you fancy a longer walk, and well worth it too.
Burgage Edge and Higger Tor are adjacent to Carl Wark and if you’re set up for a full day in the area, I’d highly recommend putting in the extra effort, so long as you’re prepared and booted, the terrain can get a little soggy in that direction, especially in Autumn and Winter, the trail near the Burbage brook as you can imagine gets boggy with the additional rain and snow.
From Owler Tor we returned to Padley gorge to wander along the Padley trail again and to relax beside Burbage brook. The woodland through this part of the valley is covered in moss and lichen as are the rocks and boulders, the branches are gnarled and twisted into such fantastical shapes, the imagination runs wild. Even in Winter the valley holds my imagination as the branches become more visible and the moss hanging from the trees appear more vibrant against the darker winter tones of the forest.
If you look carefully you will find old characterful, fallen trees or branches with pennies knocked into them, I like to call them wishing trees.
They are fully encapsulated in pennies, two pence’s and even ten pence pieces, I’m not sure how long this has been taking place but for sure some of these “Wishing trees,” have been on the ground for many years and the coins are almost a part of the tree now. I find it kind of surreal to see them.
I don’t know about you, but I feel visiting woodlands make me feel more alive and vibrant, I always come away feeling refreshed and renewed. A woodland escape is like a tonic, much better than any medicine. Our woodlands are precious and in need of our protection, the ancient woodlands are a scarce and special asset to our wildlife too. Padley gorge at Grindleford is indeed a special place, not only for myself and my family but for all. I look forward to my next woodland adventure.