Finding our feet
For years, we bypassed the entrance to The Longshaw Estate at Fox House in Derbyshire. We had never been into walking due to the fact that I struggled with mobility problems. The idea of heading off into the Peak District was something that was alien to us. However, after a recommendation to attend an Easter Trail we were hooked.
What to expect
Parking at Longshaw is relatively easy (there are several pay points - NT park for free), although on sunny days the car parks and surrounding areas can get manic. Once parked at the large car park you can gather information at the kiosk or just take a meandering walk towards the cafe.
There are a few different walks depending on the time you wish to spend at Longshaw. There is an easy walk down to the duck pond where you might spot Mandarin ducks as well as Mallards. Depending on the season you may also see ducklings or a large array of tadpoles. This walk is great for the children as there are Boggart burrows, fairy houses to explore and a space to build dens. Children are encouraged to enjoy the great outdoors here. They can build, climb and explore to their hearts content. Once they have explored there are a few options from here.
- You could just head back the way you came and call it a day.
- You could carry on past the pond towards Padley Gorge, or
- You could veer left after the pond towards'the Hairy Wood Ant Trail'.
Padley Gorge is the name of the body of water that you can follow once crossing the road after the duck pond (this can get busy so take care). Usually you will see at least one ice cream van across the road right at the gate and steep steps down towards the bank of the river. To get back up to the car park on a picturesque walk, continue on the path to the right and over the bridge. The walk is interesting with a rocky, sandy terrain which can be damp and muddy in certain areas. Make sure you watch out for the kestrels hovering over the rocks as you walk alongside the water.
After about a mile take the bridge to the right and climb up the wonderful old steps towards the small water fall, continue climbing past some beautiful scenery and fabulous old trees until you come to a set of gates. Taking care again cross the road and walk back towards the cafe. Listen out for the woodpecker in the Springtime as they nest in the trees along the road into Longshaw (Please be aware that cars do use this entrance occasionally for access).
The Hairy Wood Ant Trail
If you want a different kind of walk take the fork to the left after the duck pond and go through the gate. Carry on along the path way and over the bridge and head left up a slight incline. As well as the occasional sheep and highland cows keep your eyes open for mounds of wood along the walk. If you look closer you will see a writhing mass of Hairy Wood Ants, grossly impressive! Avoid climbing the trees in this area as the Ants love to climb here too! Continue up to the crossroads, listen out for the cuckoo in Spring. If you want a longer walk to long pole car park continue straight ahead, walk through the car park and out through the gap in the drystone wall. Turn left to continue down back towards Longshaw with amazing views. You will eventually come to the cafe after a beautiful walk although it can be quite exposed in bad weather. Alternatively the slightly shorter less muddy route is to take the left path of the crossroads straight towards the gate near to the millstone at the start of the trail.
Hopefully you have enjoyed reading all about some of the wonderful walks, sights and sounds of Longshaw. Check out their website for up to date guides as to what's on no matter what the weather.
Enjoy Longshaw in every season.