Bolsover Castle to Hardwick Hall, and back, and on foot

This month’s ATG Saturday Walk is a new one for them (and for me) : ‘Bolsover and Hardwick Hall’.

Here’s the itinerary :

Starting alongside the impressive 17th century castle of Bolsover, this walks heads south along the Doe Lea, passing the Saxon church at Ault Hucknall en route to the impressive Elizabethan home of Bess of Hardwick – Hardwick Hall. After strolling through the extensive grounds, we head north back to Glapwell for lunch. After lunch, quiet farmland tracks take us back to Bolsover for tea. 12.75 miles.” [ATG brochure]

I was so attracted by the idea of the walk and its route and the fact that today I would be travelling down the M1 from Leeds to Leicester with a whole day to spare that I failed to register quite the distance involved! There are opportunities to be picked up and returned comfortably to the start/end from both at Hardwick and at Glapwell but most of us soldiered on to the end. Luckily the route is not too demanding as regards climbs but it’s quite a long tramp and I’m now happily down in Leicetershire.

Bolsover Castle

I’ve written about Bolsover Castle before – a misty, foggy visit in November 2011. Today we passed through several weathers but only one brief shower otherwise sunshine, cloud, heavy black threatening cloud and cold winds all took it in turns.

New Bolsover

New Bolsover

From Bolsover town we headed down below the Castle to New Bolsover which is actually not so new just newer than the old settlement around the Castle. It was a purpose-built miners’ village of neat red-brick terrace houses enclosing a large grassy area and is still occupied today even though the pits around this coalfield closed in the 1990s.

In New Bolsover

In New Bolsover

The theme of much of the walk was past or along the remains of the coal industry: along a disused railway track and past grassed over open cast mines on the Stockley Ponds and Trail maintained by Bolsover Countryside Partnership.

We could still see Bolsover Castle

We could still see Bolsover Castle

The Stockley Trail

The Stockley Trail

Stockley Ponds

The Stockley Ponds (Beware! Contaminated water) no fishing today

Apart from the two very significant buildings – Hardwick Hall (NT) and Bolsover Castle – we stopped by a small Saxon Church. The Church of St John the Baptist at Ault Hucknall was closed unfortunately but it would have been good to get inside. Read more about its chapel, windows and the grave of Thomas Hobbes, the author of The Leviathan, here.

St John's Ault Hucknall

St John the Baptist Church, Ault Hucknall

Saxon Arch and figures

Saxon Arch with figures

Close-up of the Saxon Arch

Saxon Arch details

Saxon Window

Saxon Window

By lunchtime we’d arrived at Hardwick Hall, “more glass than wall”.

Approaching Hardwick Hall

Approaching Hardwick Hall

Hardwick Hall More Glass than Wall

Hardwick Hall

But it wasn’t our lunchtime so we just walked through the grounds, admiring the house as we went and continued along Lady Spencer’s Walk and other tracks on the estate finally arriving at Glapwell where lunch was waiting for us in the Community Centre.

Lady Spencer's Walk

Our Leader, Rob

Hardwick Hall avenue

Hardwick Hall from the Avenue of Trees

Comfortably refreshed, the best part of the walk, although fairly short now, lay ahead. After crossing several fields we followed a ridge directly back up to Bolsover with magnificent views west right across to the Derbyshire Dales.

Return to Bolsover

Return to Bolsover

Arriving in Bolsover more sustenance awaited us at The Bluebell pub – a generous spread of home baked scones, butter, cream and jam and pots of tea, to boot.

Less than an hour’s drive I am comfortably ensconced in my homely B&B for the night!

2 comments on “Bolsover Castle to Hardwick Hall, and back, and on foot

  1. Nilly says:

    Very interesting to see the landscape around Hardwick from a different viewpoint rather than the M1. On our visit a couple of weeks ago we were almost the only visitors in the house and were amused & a little annoyed that the NT guides seemed anxious to hurry us through & get home! We didn’t oblige.

    • I’m amazed that you were the only visitors at Hardwick! There was a steady stream of cars on Saturday. I only visited years ago and thought “Hardwick Hall more glass than wall” maybe but it’s pretty dark in there with blinds drawn.

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