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Dove Valley Walk: Marching on to Marchington

This next section involved rather a lot of road walking. Even when footpaths existed, they tended to be overgrown and unpredictable, so that I was glad to get back to a bit of tarmac. Still, there were some sweeping views across the Dove Valley, a bit of geology, and a pretty postbox topper in Scropton.

Walk 1 - Tutbury to A515

I returned to Tutbury picnic area on a Sunday afternoon, to continue heading west along the Dove. After Hatton, the next bridge is Aston Bridge, carrying the A515 over the river, and that was my goal today. I set off along Old Scropton Road, which gradually turned into a footpath.

The Dove with ominous clouds

There was a footbridge over the railway line, but the path continued on the same side, too. I followed it across a field of sheep and reached a level crossing. By this time there were frequent rumbles of thunder overhead. As I got to the road, the rain came down as if someone had turned on a tap. I'd hoped I might have reached a bus shelter or something, but had to huddle under a decidedly inadequate tree. In front of me, the road quickly filled up with water.

Fortunately that was the only rain of the afternoon. I dodged puddles to Scropton, and spent the rest of the hike drying out again. At Scropton there was a Road Closed sign. "Great," I thought, "this will be a nice quiet walk." Five cars passed me in the next five minutes, and I realised that Leathersley Lane was not closed after all. Sure enough, there was no sign at the far end.

old farm on Leathersley Lane

Aston Bridge appeared to have been mended with giant Lego bricks. A large chunk of the original stonework had fallen into the river, leaving a gaping hole. I scurried across before any more of it disintegrated.

After I crossed the railway, the map showed a footpath along a small lane running parallel to the main road, so I tried it. It took me through a very beautiful private garden, and then disappeared, leaving me confused and unwilling to trespass on any more gardens. I think it was supposed to go through a tractor dealership. Instead I found it on the other side, and cut across fields to Coton in the Clay.


From here I had to follow the road for a while, but it was nicer than I expected - less traffic and more pavement. I passed the British Gypsum works, with a large lump of gypsum outside. It sparkled in the sun and felt dusty under my fingers.

Finally I reached a footpath with a nice clear sign to Tutbury. The farmer had made an obvious effort to separate walkers and cows, which I appreciated, though I think most of the cows had moved elsewhere. Above me, the ruins of Tutbury Castle poked their heads above the trees.

I met the Dove again near a weir, crossed a sluice bridge, and followed a blessedly easy path back to the car park. It had felt like a long walk.

14.6 km / 9 miles

26 May 2024

Walk 2 - A515 to Marchington

This was a shorter loop, all on the south side of the River Dove. Sudbury Hall is on the north side. It's a great place to visit, but there are no footpaths at all, except for one running down to what must have been a ford, once. I didn't go to see if it was still fordable.

I parked near the Swan Inn in Draycott-in-the-Clay (yes, another village-in-the-clay; you can see why I didn't want to walk this route in winter!). There was a mile's walk up the A515 to start, which took me to the Boar's Head hotel.

Victorian postbox by the Boar's Head

From there I followed a deserted track past a care home and a couple of farms. It wound its way over the flat flood plain, swinging close to the river, then away again. I caught a glimpse of the gold ball on top of Sudbury Hall, over the trees. The track crossed the railway on a rather snazzy crossing, with traffic lights. I went past a community orchard and arrived in Marchington.

apple tree in the orchard

Marchington's nearest neighbours are a prison, a landfill site, and an industrial estate, so I think I can be forgiven for not expecting much of it. Actually it turned out to be an attractive village. I passed the almshouses, village hall, primary school, and cricket club, and found a footpath leading up to a trig point on Hound Hill (99m above sea level).

almshouses, Marchington

trig point, Hound Hill

I was a bit unsure about the footpaths from this point, as they all seemed to be interrupted by the landfill site. Descending Hound Hill, I crossed a field and then walked along an overgrown line of tarmac between two hedges. That brought me out opposite the entrance to the prison.

I stuck with the road almost all the way back to the A515, where I diverted up Ashe's Lane and Toby's Hill, then across a couple of fields back to the Swan.

9.6 km / 6 miles

9 June 2024


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