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Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk: Lees to Derby

These final two Bonnie Prince Charlie walks were quite a contrast: the first across empty fields and along quiet roads; the second crossing from country into city as I walked into Derby.

I started both walks at the Great Northern Greenway car park, just off Station Road in Mickleover. 

Walk 1

In order to keep walking the Bonnie Prince Charlie way in the right direction, I first found my way back to Lees by an alternative route. The first section, along the cycle path, was well paved. After that it quickly got very muddy. At least it's a popular walk from Mickleover to Radbourne, so it was easy to find the path. 

St Andrew's, Radbourne, is rather dominated by memorials. It looks as if the preacher would be hemmed in by tombs! 

 

 

I liked this bench outside, with the text, "The thoughtful soul to solitude retires". Writing this, I only just realised it was a quote. Turns out it's from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.


The rest of the walk certainly provided solitude, if not thoughtfulness. I followed an untrafficked road past a farmhouse, where a dog waited hopefully to see if I would play ball with him. His disappointed eyes watched me as I kept going. Soon I was at the village green in Lees. Lunchtime.



Picking up the Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk, I retraced my steps down a short portion of the road, then cut across a field full of sheep. Some of the ewes were looking a little protective of their babies, but I talked soothingly to them and escaped being butted. 

I crossed Radbourne Brook and continued across more fields back to Radbourne. A pheasant was about the only thing worth photographing on this stretch.


On the other side of the village, the route followed a well-trampled path over more muddy fields. Just as I was looking at a churned-up area and thinking, "This is a right mess," I caught my foot on a lump and went over, splat! into the middle of it. Hands, knees, and some of the OS map.


I wiped the worst of it off on some grass, and was thankful that I was near the end of the walk. The BPC notes told me to go up to the B5020, but that's a fast road with no pavements. Instead I cut across to Radbourne Road, where I could follow a footpath along the edge of the new Hackwood housing estate, and rejoin the B5020 near the roundabout at the top of Station Road.

11.8 km / 7.3 miles

11 March 2024

Walk 2

From the same car park, this final section of the Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk took me north-ish to Mackworth, then across Markeaton Park and into Derby city. There were a few fields to start, and I was anxious to avoid a repeat of the last walk, as I didn't want to arrive in Derby looking like a swamp monster! So I took an alternative route for some parts.


Some of the fields are now Langley Country Park housing estate. I had to take a selfie with Martha Road, of course. There's a strip of woods and a water tower at the top of the hill.


The view down to Mackworth from the water tower looked too beautiful to miss, so I risked the mud. I got wet feet. Oh well. 


Crossed the A52 and headed down to All Saints' Church in Mackworth. Sadly it was badly damaged by arson a few years ago. It's being restored, but it will be a long job.

 

I decided the next section of footpath was impassable, so I went back up to the A52 and turned down Markeaton Lane, past the crematorium and into Markeaton Park. This was familiar territory, although I don't think I'd ever been over the swirly bridge before.


Following Markeaton Brook, I passed some university buildings and the seriously crenellated St John's Church. The brook goes underground near the inner ring road; I continued above ground to Derby Cathedral.


 

 

There's a plaque commemorating the fact that Charles Edward Stuart and some of his army held a service here, in 1745. Behind the cathedral, near the Museum of Making, is a statue of the man himself, and a sign locating the place where he held a council of war. I dutifully took photos of each of these.





Derby Cathedral is also well-known for its nesting peregrines. When I was there they had just laid their first egg of 2024. My camera on full zoom captured the female peering over the edge of the platform, but there are much better photos (and live feeds) on the peregrine blog.


I took Friar Gate (the A52) as my route out of town. It has some interesting old buildings which you don't really get to appreciate when you're driving in traffic. Windmill Hill Lane took me to the cycle route along the edge of Mackworth estate.

 

It was a little surreal being surrounded by blossom and grass, with lorries charging along the A38 at the top of the embankment. When you're up there, on the main road, you'd never know this path was a few metres away.

 The cycle path took me neatly back to my car, with no more mud involved. 


I have to say the mud has been the dominating feature of this whole walk. I sank in it, fell over in it, splashed through it, got covered in it. But what else did I expect, walking in February and March after a very wet winter? Apart from that, I've enjoyed encountering some lesser-known villages, and been pleasantly surprised at how many of the churches have been open. And I've even learned a bit more about Bonnie Prince Charlie. 

14 km / 8.7 miles

18 March 2024

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