It’s hard to believe that our younger son has been living at his cottage on the edge of Sheffield with the Peak District and Ladybower Reservoir on his doorstep for three years already. His neighbour owns a holiday rental cottage in the same terrace and I finally managed a few nights stay there last weekend. The location has the best of both worlds – near to the vibrant and cultured city of Sheffield and yet just a short drive from the beautiful Derbyshire Dales/Peak District National Park. The outlook from the cottage is pastoral and peaceful. And there is perhaps too much choice when it comes to excursions to fill three full days.
North Lees Hall
Taking it in turns to choose a walk on Friday and Saturday, my sister’s choice was The Jane Eyre Hathersage and Trail. I’d printed off this walk some years ago but in the intervening years had accompanied a friend who lives in Bamford on a circular walk that visited North Lees Hall directly from her home. The Jane Eyre Hathersage Trail duplicated only the few hundred metres passing the Hall. Sadly, it’s no longer let by the now defunct Vivat Trust. But hopefully its fortunes will soon be revived.
Open Day later this month
Step into the pages of Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice and Robin Hood
This circular film and literature walk takes you to the places visited by Charlotte Bronte that appear in
Jane Eyre. You can also recreate the famous scene from Pride & Prejudice ‘on location’ above Stanage Edge and visit the grave of Robin Hood’s sidekick Little John. Explore a Romano-British village, Norman fort, historic church and breathtaking moors on the way. Moderate difficulty. Easy underfoot with some steep ascents and descents. Valley fields, high moorland paths, woodland path.
Moderate difficulty; Allow 3+hr; 5.5 miles.
We parked in Hathersage and walked up the main street through the village, past the [former] National Westminster bank and courtyard cafés. Immediately after the next building, we turned onto Baulk Lane and followed this footpath for nearly a mile. A large house with towering chimneys is Brookfield Manor, which features as Vale Hall in Jane Eyre. In the novel, Mr Oliver of Vale Hall made his money from a needle factory and, in fact, Hathersage was famous for producing needles at the time.
Brookfield Manor, hidden behind the trees
Brookfield Manor as near as we could get
Soon we reached North Lees Hall. Such a shame that it is looking rather forlorn and deserted. Later on the walk I noticed a poster (above) advertising an Open Day later this month so hopefully the Hall will a secure future again very soon.
After a look round the outside of the hall, and a peep through a window – furniture including books and bookcase still in situ – we continued along the route and climbed to a brief diversion for a view of the site of a Romano-British Village almost 2,000 years old. Archaeologists have found pottery made in the Derbyshire potteries set up after the Romans arrived. They also found a corn grinding stone. Most probably the people who lived here were native local farmers. The ruined wall with the arched window across the field was once a Catholic chapel.
Romano-British site (the arch is very tiny but right in the very middle of the photo)
Returning to the trail we headed through woodland, crossed a road and began our ascent of Stanage Edge. On Stanage Edge, Keira Knightley as Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet felt freedom and
air to breathe. The Edge also featured in the 2006 TV mini series of Jane Eyre starring Ruth Wilson as Jane and Toby Stephens as Mr Rochester.
The Climb Begins
Taking a Breather
After about a mile a concessionary path took his diagonally down to the road below. There was more moorland to cross before we reached habitation in the form of Moorseats House which became Moor House in Jane Eyre, the home of St John Rivers.
We walked right through the grounds and a gate finally lead us out onto a muddy path and the parish church of St Michael and All Angels, Hathersage. In the churchyard here Little John, one of Robin Hood’s outlaw companions, is buried. We were told to “Look out for gargoyles and ‘Celtic’-style carved
heads adorning the church. The church you see today dates from 1460. Robert Eyre, then Lord of the Manor, restored the church and added the gargoyles. It was restored again in the mid 1800s.”
The Eyre Memorial in Hathersage Church
From the church our path lead back down onto Baulk Lane and we arrived back in Hathersage ready for lunch at Cintra’s Cafe on the main street.
Arriving Back in Hathersage