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Length: 8 miles

Time: 4-5 hours


Start/finish: Northern end of Lightwood Road, Buxton
(Google map/OS Explorer OL24)
Grade: Moderate
Refuel: The Beehive Inn

Forty years ago, my routine circumnavigation of the grouse moors on


Combs Moss, between Buxton and Chapel-en-le-Frith, involved a delightful
act of childhood trespass. Now I can both exercise my right to roam on the
same route, and stop off for lunch at the Beehive Inn.

The first leg of the Combs Moss circuit is a great appetite builder. It is easy
to park at the top of Lightwood Road in Buxton and then follow the gravel
track to the bridge over a small brook and climb the steep facing slope.
Then the route heads north-east, following the boundary line and gritstone
wall, known as Black Edge, that divides the heather moorland from the
upland pastures.

There is a sense of vast space, and glorious panoramas over the heart of the
Peak District. Then, as you drop off the moor to the minor road above
Combs Edge and make the last steep descent into Combs and the Beehive
itself, you can see, way to the north, the darker contours of Kinder Scout
and Blackden Moor.

Avoid retracing your steps by undertaking a post-lunch slog up Ridge Lane


and back to Buxton via the old Roman road, completing an eight-mile
circuit. You are largely walking on an old gravel and even tarmac road, so
the route is clear and the going good. It gets a little tougher with the years
and over time I have seen the lapwings and curlews decline, yet the
buzzards, peregrines and ravens are all increasing. The varied colours of
autumn vegetation seen from this route are particularly rewarding.

The fact that the Beehive pub is always busy despite being down a virtual
cul-de-sac in the tiny hamlet of Combs, miles from the main road, speaks
volumes for the friendliness of the staff and the reputation of its food and
cask ale. It has a wood-lined interior with superb photos of local Derbyshire
characters on the walls. There is an excellent range of traditional fare, but
the generous Sunday roasts (£10.95; the beef was particularly good last
time) with heaps of fresh vegetables have long been a stock choice of my
family. MC

20 The Orchid Walk at Calke, Derbyshire


Calke Abbey tunnel. Photograph: Alamy

Length: 3½ miles
Time: Under 2 hours
Start/finish: Calke Abbey NT car park (Google map/OS Explorer
245)
Grade: Easy
Refuel: The Wheel Inn, Ticknall

Among all the gems in National Trust ownership, Calke Abbey ranks very
high: a baroque giant of a country pile that came to the trust in 1985 in lieu
of death duties, and in a state of disrepair. Thankfully they kept it that way,
although “shabby” in this instance means a slightly worn cushion, rather
than water pouring through the ceiling.

This circular walk starts at the NT car park, but you could begin at the
halfway point in Ticknall if you prefer to end it with lunch, and there are
several possible additions. The route takes you through Ticknall limeyards,
once a bustling medieval industrial site, but now a place where lime-loving
plants thrive, including wild clematis, the rare hard shield fern, wild
strawberries and various orchids. After winding through this area, you will
pass through an old tunnel, following which turn right along the national
forest trail.

This path becomes a lane that pops out on Ticknall’s Main Street and
the Wheel Inn is on your left. There’s an extensive menu, from toasted
ciabattas (£8.95) to venison sausages (£10.95), plus a specials board with at
least 10 dishes, around half of which are usually seafood. It’s hugely
popular with locals so it’s best to book ahead.

Now retrace your steps back on to the forest trail and follow the path all the
way to the abbey, watching out for some of Calke’s ancient trees, several of
which are over 800 years old. The house itself is well worth a look: check
out the book-lined drawing room and the wonderfully Heath Robinson
bathroom equipment. More walk details at nationaltrust.org.uk. KR

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