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Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk: Longford to Lees and BONUS walk

The walk from Longford to Lees didn't include any churches. That was frankly not on. So I found an extra walk which included not one, not two, but three churches. Also it was shorter, because I didn't have time to fit in a longer walk that week.


The next week I managed the churchless section of the Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk. It was a little more adventurous than I expected!

Walk 1 (Three Churches)

For this route I followed the directions given by Dave Welford on his very useful blog. As soon as I parked up by Sutton-on-the-Hill church, I heard the bleating of lambs. Spring must be coming.

number 11 mum and baby
 

I crossed a field full of numbered lambs and ewes and came out in the middle of Sutton village. Turning left by the village preschool, I picked up another footpath to take me across the fields to Dalbury. A ruined cottage stood crumbling lonesomely - the Gamekeeper's Cottage, apparently. 


I was amused by Dave Welford's comments about the miserable farmer who left paths and stiles to disintegrate. Things hadn't improved since he walked it in 2020. There were still plenty of rickety stiles. At Baldfields Farm someone had been hard at work with a bulldozer, leaving a heap of earth right across the footpath. And a little further on, I had to climb round these gates onto the bridge, as they were almost impossible to open.


Dalbury All Saints church was worth it, though. It's a gorgeous little place, with an alabaster pulpit and the oldest stained glass in Derbyshire. I took my muddy boots off and had a good look round.




 Had lunch on a bench outside, next to an unusual gravestone which incorporated a sundial.


It was about a mile over yet more fields to Trusley, which has a funny little brick church (also dedicated to All Saints) with an extremely large door.



Heading back, I took the wrong line and almost ended up heading south instead of west. Fortunately I could see the spire of St Michael's at Sutton, so I quickly realised I was going the wrong way. It took me a few puzzled moments to work out where I was. Then I took the easy route and followed the road back.


 St Michael's at Sutton-on-the-Hill is larger and more impressive than the other two churches. It also includes a fair bit of alabaster, and a memorial with a black stone coffin - very unusual, the leaflet said. There was free tea and coffee in the corner, which was a nice touch. However, it was time for me to head home.



 

Would you rather have a sundial or a black coffin as your memorial? A sundial seems much friendlier.

8.4 km / 5.2 miles

27 February 2024 


Walk 2 (Longford - Lees)

It was such a beautiful sunny day that I felt quite guilty heading out for a walk while the rest of my family went reluctantly off to work or school. If they'd seen the state I got into, though, they would have been thankful not to be with me!

The walk started well. I parked by Longford school. A short road section took me to a clear signpost and a gravel track across a field. A thin film of ice covered the puddles, and the sky was clear and blue.


 South of Thurvaston, I reached a track, with instructions to cross it and continue over a field. This I did, but the stile out of that field had been replaced by a fence, strung with barbed wire and festooned with brambles. I put a tentative foot on the bottom rail, but decided there was no way over without tearing my clothes to shreds. I detoured up the track and back down another path which led to the same point.


From then on the paths got less distinct, and the stiles more and more overgrown. This one was completely impassable; I had to climb over a fence further along. I crossed a field with a mare and her foal in, and reached Osleston. Sheep grazed on a lumpy field which was once a medieval village.

yeah, right

Osleston medieval village

Once I'd navigated round a fallen tree, I was surprised to find two nice new gates. Soon I was climbing up a slope to Lees village, where I was pleased to see a bench waiting for me on the village green.



Lees is the other half of Dalbury Lees; Dalbury, which is about a mile and a half away, has the church and not much else (visited on my previous walk). Lees has got all the houses, and a pub. A friend had been singing the praises of the Cow, but it was only 11 am, so I was too early to get a coffee there.

After my experience on the "official" Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk, I wondered what the unofficial footpaths would be like. I was right to be apprehensive. The OS map is cobwebbed with dotted footpath lines, but they are woefully underwalked. It was pretty much impossible to see a clear line across any field. Heading vaguely for a gate on what was almost certainly not a footpath, I suddenly sank to the top of my wellies in soft mud. Alarmed, I managed to extract myself - and my boots - and reach a track, where I paused for a moment to recover. I carried on with considerably more caution.

strange human, what's she doing?

After a while even the footpath signs gave up. I ducked under barbed wire, climbed over gateposts and pallets, and got yanked backwards when my rucksack got caught on a hedge. 


It didn't feel like I was making any progress. So it was quite a surprise to find myself on Longford Lane again, just a short way from my car. I admired the belt-buckle detail on this former chapel. Longford and Lees, I decided, were perfectly nice villages. But I won't be in a hurry to walk between them again.


12.8 km / 8 miles

4 March 2024

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