The Parsley hay circular walk is a great walk that takes about 4 hours. There’s a pub en route and a place for a coffee and bacon buttie at the beginning…or the end…or both??? The walk is a great introduction to the limestone plateau of the White Peaks with some fantastic viewpoints – There’s even a castle (well an ancient Motte and Bailey) to have a look around.
Getting there: The start of the hike is at Parsley Hay car park. It does get really busy, so if it’s full you can park at Sparklow car park (Grid ref SK127 660) which is about 3.5 km further up the track. The issue with parking here is that there aren’t any facilities other than the pub?? I arrived at 10am and there were plenty of spaces (and no queue for a bacon sarnie).
Walk summary: Mainly flat and undulating hills with easy to follow footpaths that are relatively good underfoot (obviously you need hiking boots). There a couple of climbs, one very steep. The ascent for the walk is around 150m. Sometimes on the walk it is easy to forget that you are on main roads so just be careful there and a couple of fields have cows in. These are fine even though I send my wife in first
Guided walks: We have guides available to escort you on your walk. Our guides are very friendly, experienced hill walkers and local residents to the area. They are also highly qualified first aiders. Obviously, there is a charge for their time; the more there are of you the cheaper it will be. Contact us to arrange your guide – they will plan the walk around you.
I’ve literally just got back home from the Parsley Hay circular walk. It’s the second time I’ve done it with my wife and on both days the weather was gorgeous. The hike is just over 9 miles long (can be extended a little) and takes 4 to 5 hours depending on your pace and stops (at the pub in Crowdecote which is about 2/3 of the way). The paths are good, there are fields to cross with cows and sheep and there is one steep climb to the top of High Wheeldon.
So, from Parsley Hay car park head north west along the High Peak Trail, the former Ashbourne to Buxton railway which was closed in November 1967. At Sparklow car park and picnic area carry on straight for about another kilometre. You’re looking for an under bridge which is not signed very well.
This is where you can extend the Parsley Hay circular walk
Here you can continue on the walk described below or carry on the High Peak Trail to the end (I did this the first time which extends the walk by about three miles. If you decide to do the longer route stay on the trail to the end. At the end turn left and walk along the side of the Dowlow works limestone quarry. Follow this until you reach the road which is where the walk below joins a little later. OK if your off on the longer one I’ll see you in a mo, I’m turning off the track by the underbridge which isn’t signed very well.
On the right of the path there is a stepped track down the embankment. Turn at the bottom under the bridge and continue across the field towards the old farm buildings.
You’ll reach the quiet road where you need to turn right with the road veering left to the hamlet of Hurdlow. Hurdlow is a small hamlet consisting of a cluster of buildings around Hurdlow Hall and Hurdlow Grange. A settlement is recorded here as far back as 1244.
Hurdlow Hall is a working farm, whilst Hurdlow Grange, dating back over 300 years, was converted into holiday accommodation in 2006.
Continue along the road through Hurdlow, you’ll see the trig point at the top High Wheeldon (422) as you go. You’ll also come to the wide track on the right at the bottom of the hill which is where you join the walk if you’ve taken the longer route by the quarry – few you made it . You’ll reach Wheeldon trees, turn right and down to the main road. Cross the road and take the obvious path down the hill to the sign and gate at the foot of High Wheeldon. Walk through the gate and follow the footholds up to the top. It’s a great place for a brew and quick bite if you remembered to pack them although you will to find a place where the sheep haven’t covered with “Maltesers”.
From the top we’re heading SE down hill along the wall at the top of the hill (not straight downhill). Follow the path alongside the wall which drops slightly, you’ll see marker post indicating the route to take. You’ll eventually come to a large steel gate and the B5055. Here turn right down the road, which turns sharp right, to Crowdicote.
If you did to forget to pack the thermos and cheese sandwiches the Pack Horse Pub is a great place to stop for refreshments?? You’d better call ahead just in case to make sure they are open and serve lite snacks.
Pass the pub and you’ll come to the lane to Bridge End Farm on the left. Take the track but at the farm don’t turn right over the footbridge, continue straight on and pass the big green slurry container which will be your right and a large barn on your left. Continue along the track, there’s a very impressive tree on the right to the gate to the field. There are usually cows in the field which isn’t an issue, just make sure the kids are close and the dogs are secure. The path is obvious and follows the river Dove on the right.
The final part of the Parsley Hay circular walk
You’ll reach a gate with an information board on the other side which explains how Pilsbury castle would have looked like (told you there was a castle on this awesome Parsley Hay circular walk). From the information board head, up the hill to the left around the site to a stile near another information board. Here you need to go uphill – NOT downhill to Pilsbury. Follow this path to the top where it levels off and continues to the road next to some buildings. Cross the road and continue on the path through the fields, over a wall next to the pond and down to the farm buildings. At the farm buildings bear half left to a marker post (yellow top) and down the hill to Vincent House Farm. Cross the right and walk through the farm. There is a warning sign for farm vehicles and dogs in the yard. Every time I have walked through the farm the dogs are either not there or kennelled. They just bark a lot.
Just after the dog kennel on the left at a large gate you need to veer right and up the concrete tack ahead. There is a quarry indicated on the map. Follow this path until you reach Darley farm. You’ll See a sign indicating that the path also goes through this farm. Go through the large farm gate into the filed and walk up the incline to the High Peak Trail. Turn right and back to the car park for refreshments, the end of the Parsley Hay circular walk and home - hope you enjoyed it?