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Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk: Ashbourne - Longford

The Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk follows the "general direction of Prince Charles Edward Stuart's march from Ashbourne to Derby". (Derby Ramblers) I'm inclined to think that the prince would have had the sense to follow the main road rather than tramp across muddy fields, but a route following the modern A52 would not be particularly pleasant. 

The appeal of the walk for me was not really the historical accuracy, though. More that it was close to home, fairly short, and unlikely to be flooded even in the current climate. It has turned into my Lent walk: starting on 5th February; visiting plenty of village churches along the way; and hopefully finishing by Easter.

Walk 1

I set off on a grey day from Ashbourne Market Cross, the official start of the Bonnie Prince Charlie walk. My first stop was Ashbourne Methodist Church, a severely symmetrical building smelling faintly of cinnamon, where I prayed for a few people who were on my mind.

The route climbed steeply out of Ashbourne, and I was soon looking back over the roofs of the town. Aside from a few outdated comments (the "new" bypass is now 30 years old) the walk notes were easy to follow. I spotted some waymarkers as well.

looking back across Ashbourne

Crossing open countryside, I reached Osmaston, a village crammed with thatched cottages and a very noisy school (it was breaktime). The church was closed. I ate half my lunch by the duckpond there, as I wasn't sure when I'd next find a bench.

St Martin's, Osmaston

village pond

After that I was into Osmaston Estate. I passed some multi-coloured sheep and dropped down to the valley, past an old sawmill. A short ascent on the other side took me to a path junction, where I left the BPCW and turned right to reach a couple of footbridges and fords.

A path alongside Wyaston Brook took me to Wyaston village. I crossed a large field, thinking that it would be much prettier on a sunny day, and followed a country lane all the way back to Ashbourne, taking a short detour to see a neolithic barrow. I finally found a bench to eat the rest of my lunch on, with a great view of a housing estate.

neolithic round barrow


lunch view (oh well)

14.6 km / 9 miles

5 February 2024 

Walk 2

I parked at the small parking area in Shirley, and spent the first half hour getting to the point where I'd previously left the Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk, then retracing my steps to the car. St Michael's Church was open for a village coffee morning, but I preferred to actually start getting somewhere.

great moss!

The instructions told me to turn left opposite the Methodist Chapel, which I later discovered was demolished in 1996. I found the turning, though; a lane and bridlepath leading all the way to Longford. The initial gravel surface soon turned to mud, but the sun was out and it was a pleasant enough walk. 

I came out by a gatehouse with a tree stump carved into a sheaf of wheat. Crossed a road, a stream, and a few fields to reach the southern end of Longford, and then walked back along the road through the village. The most impressive building was a former watermill straddling the river.

 St Chad's Church is next to the many-chimneyed Longford Hall. A Ukraine flag was flying from the church tower. I stopped for a few minutes in the churchyard, although a tree was being taken down nearby, so it wasn't as peaceful as it might have been!

I splashed across increasingly waterlogged fields to reach Hollington. It had the obligatory red phone box converted to a library and defibrillator. Two women on horses passed me as I went down a holloway lane. 

By the time I reached Shirley again, the coffee morning had finished, but the church was still lovely and warm. I had a quick look round and admired the massive yew tree outside. That must have been around well before Bonnie Prince Charlie.

St Michael's, Shirley

13.2 km / 8.2 miles

12 February 2024


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