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There is so much to see on this enjoyable walk, which picks out many of the places associated with Florence Nightingale and her family, while exploring the lovely countryside around Lea.

From the Cromford Canal, you walk up the Nightingale Arm of the canal, built by Peter Nightingale the great uncle of Florence. It originally stretched to Smedley’s Car Park, where the second Peter Nightingale had a Hat Factory making military hats. The Nightingale family also founded the factory at Lea Bridge and had a lead smelting business nearby.

Leaving the road behind, the walk takes you through the grounds of Lea Hurst, where Florence and her parents lived during the summer months. Winter was normally spent at Embley House in Hampshire, much preferred by Florence’s mother, who found the social life more to her liking.

After climbing a flight of steps at Holloway, a series of fields are crossed to Lea, where the Jug and Glass Inn stands at the end of a terrace of former weaver’s cottages built by the Nightingales.

Smedley’s Mill was revitalised by the remarkable John Smedley, in the early 1800s; he went on to build and run the Hydro at Matlock Bank, and Riber Castle as a retirement home.


Length:     5 miles.

Start/Finish:     High Peak Junction Car Park.

Location:     Turn off A6 at Cromford for Arkwright’s Mill and follow the road round heading for Lea and turning right before reaching a left hand bend.

Terrain:     No appreciable ascents and descents apart from a long flight of steps at Holloway. The path can be a little overgrown and muddy in places.


1.    Go to the top of the car park to cross the bridge over the river, to reach the Cromford Canal towpath.


2.    Turn left down the near side of the canal, passing Leawood Pump House before turning left onto the Nightingale Arm of the canal, sign posted ‘Lea Bridge’ half a mile.


3.    Continue straight ahead passed Wharf Cottages to Lea Bridge, and turn right up Mill Lane towards Holloway.


4.    Opposite Hollins Wood Close, cross the road and go through a kissing gate by a footpath sign and turn left, keeping close to the wall, go over another stile along a fenced path.


5.    On reaching an open field continue close to the perimeter wall of Lea Hurst on the right and follow it round through another field to cross the house drive by two stiles.


6.    Keep close to the fence on the right, crossing two stiles in the corner of the field and follow a fenced path round to the left into Bracken Lane.


7.    Go up the lane for 200 yards before turning right into a side road, which soon bends to the left leading up to two flights of steps to the Lea to Holloway Road.


8.    Cross the road and follow the path to the right of the cottage opposite. Go up a long series of steps bending to the left at the top onto a road.


9.    Turn right uphill and then left at a road ‘T’ junction by Upper Holloway Farm. A few yards past the farm take the stile on the right heading for the top right hand corner of the field.


10.   Angle to the left across the next field and go down a grass track to a stile into another field.


11.   Continue down the field and go over a stile straight in front of you where the field narrows. Do not go to the bottom of the field.


12.   The walk continues down a track that narrows into an enclosed path for about 300 yards, before taking a stile on the left just after passing a finger post sign on the right for ‘Wakebridge.’


13.   Cross two fields to the right at an angle of about 45 degrees, to enter a lane behind a row of houses. Continue down the lane and turn left to join the road to Lea village.


14.   Opposite the Jug and Glass pub turn left up Holt Lane and where it divides follow it to the right through the village, before turning right at a footpath sign which takes you alongside the perimeter wall of Lea Green.


15.   On reaching Long Lane, go straight across and follow the path opposite that leads you down to the road by the church. Here you turn left and follow the road into Holloway.


16.   Continue along the road to a ‘T’ junction, turn right, and walk back to Lea Bridge where you turn to the left just above Smedley’s Car Park and retrace your steps back to the start of the walk.






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Lea Gardens (Tel. 01629 534380) hold a rare collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, alpines and conifers in a lovely woodland setting. The attractive teashop provides seating both inside and out. Plants are available for purchase. Telephone for further information.

Arkwright’s Cromford Mill (Cromford Mill Tel. 01629 823256, Masson Mill Tel. 01629 760208) the world’s first successful water powered cotton-spinning mill. It is now a world heritage site and guided tours are available. There is a whole food restaurant, a number of shops and free car park. A not to be missed attraction, along with Masson Mill situated about a quarter of a mile away on the A6, that has been converted into a shopping village and working textile museum. Open daily.

John Smedley Factory Shop (Tel. 01629 534571) established over 200 years ago, sells a wide range of luxury knitwear at its factory shop at Lea Bridge. It is acknowledged as a leader in the specialist field of fine gauge knitted products of the highest quality. Open every day 10-4pm.


Jug and Glass (Tel. 01629 534232) before it was converted into a pub it formed part of a row of weavers’ cottages. It comprises several cosy wood-panelled rooms, including a restaurant. There is seating outside and bar snacks are available lunchtime and evenings.

The Coach House (Tel. 01629 534346) is a converted farm and buildings with an attractive courtyard. Containing a tea room, licensed restaurant, ice-cream parlour, craft and gift shop. Accommodation. Open all year Tuesday to Saturday and Bank Holiday Mondays – tea rooms from 10.30-5pm.




Provides a wide range of features  with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.


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The villages of Lea and Holloway situated in picturesque countryside climbing up from the Derwent Valley, together with Dethick and Lea Green, have formed a single parish for over 100 years.

Florence Nightingale – renowned throughout the world for her nursing skills – was a direct descendant. 

Despite the continuing opposition of her family, she took up an appointment as manager of the Institution for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Distressed Circumstances in London.

It was not long after this that she went to the Crimea and became a legend - the lady with the lamp, whose shadow the sick soldiers kissed as she passed through the wards. 

Lea and Holloway Feature


Lea Gardens


All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.