We had visited the Freshfields Donkey Sanctuary just outside the village of Peak Forest in Derbyshire, spent about 45 minutes there, then decided to do a walk around the village itself and explore a bit of the countryside. The walk we did was a mixture of different walks I had in various books, tailored to suit our needs. It took about 2.5 hours and was 4.5 miles long.
We drove into the village of Peak Forest, past the village church and parked at the Methodist Church. The village is tiny, you couldn't get lost, and this seemed like the best place to leave our car for the afternoon. Take a look at the main, old church though as you go past. It has some interesting history. Until 1804, the minister here had the power to issue marriage licenses. It became a place where "runaway marriages" happened, and was the Peak District's equivalent to Gretna Green.
The countryside around the village is really beautiful - all stone walls, hills and lots of sheep. The name Peak Forest comes from the fact it was once a hunting area for visiting royals. Henry I and Henry II were amongst those kings who hunted here.
We walked past the Methodist church to the next little hamlet of Old Dam. We turned left at a little junction and just kept walking until we reached Eldon Lane - it is beside a farm of the same name, so look out for the farm and you won't miss the lane. We turned right, along this lane which climbed up and eventually turned into just a track. It was a relatively steep climb, on the way up we were observed by a lot of curious sheep and lambs.
Eldon Hole is the biggest open pot hole in the Peak - there are a lot of folk tales about it, but if you go a little way off this track, you will find it.
We kept on climbing and climbing, a lot of puffing and panting, and eventually reached the top of the hill. It is worth it for the wonderful views all around. At the top, we turned right and walked along a stony track. There were lots of lead mines around this area at one time, you can see their remains on the landscape.
We crossed a couple of stiles, kept on going until we saw a sign for the Limestone Way. We took this right turn, started descending and basically just kept going until we got to the bottom. Again, we passed through fields of sheep and lambs and then some ancient woodland. This was a great place to stop and take a break. Our 9 year old was complaining about how tired he was and how his feet ached. When he saw all the trees, this feeling miraculously disappeared and he dashed off to climb a particularly interesting tree.
Eventually, after a little bit more of a descent, you reach the hamlet of Old Dam again. We climbed back into the car, tired but having had a lovely walk in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside.