This is a lovely relaxing walk through Osmaston Park woodlands to the pretty village of Shirley, then returning alongside Shirley Brook, past an ornamental lake, before climbing gently back to Osmaston. Although this is a very popular and well known walk, in wet weather part of the route is very, very muddy and is not suitable for families with young children.
The route from Osmaston takes you down Park Lane, between two of the park’s lakes. The old water mill with its large wheel has a roof similar to a Swiss chalet.
Shirley is an appealing village with a fine church and a very old inn, mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. St Michael’s Church has been heavily restored and has lost its Norman shape. John Cowper Powys, one of England’s leading religious novelists, spent the early years of his life in the village, where his father was the vicar. The Sarcen’s Head takes its name from the crest on the arms of the Shirley family.
The strange-looking tower, seen through the trees near the end of the walk, was designed to accommodate all the smoke from the chimneys at Osmaston Hall, before it was reduced to rubble.
The horseshoe seat that faces the thatched cottages across the village duck pond is an excellent place to rest and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the village.
Length: 4.5 miles.
Start/Finish: Osmaston Village Hall Car Park.
Location: Off A52 Derby to Ashbourne (2miles) road.
Terrain: Easy walking along estate tracks for the first part of the walk, but can be muddy near Shirley Brook at most times of the year, on the return journey. Although this is a very popular and well known walk, in wet weather part of the route is very, very muddy and is not suitable for families with young children.
1. Walk to the right from the car park into the village centre and then turn left past the duck pond.
2. Take the middle of three paths signed Bridleway to Shirley and walk along a wide track that gently descends amongst fields.
3. After passing an old water mill, the track climbs up through woodland and continues in the same direction, eventually joining a surfaced lane leading to Shirley.
4. On the outskirts of Shirley, go up a series of steps on the right and over a stile. Then walk along a fenced path in front of a garden.
5. Go over two stiles into a field, then turn left and follow the hedge round to cross a stile in the bottom corner.
6. Turn sharp right and walk alongside the field boundary to a follow an obvious path.
7. After entering a slightly wider field, angle a little to the right to a stile in the far corner where you turn left and follow the hedge down to a stile by a metal gate.
8. Continue straight on down a marshy field to enter an area of woodland by a footbridge over Shirley Brook.
9. Turn right and then left on reaching the side of the brook, skirt round some brambles and cross the brook again by a footbridge on the right.
10. Go through an area of woodland, keep to the left along the Centenary Way, and on reaching a rough track continue in the same direction.
11. Leave the wood through a gate and follow a slightly sunken grass path, ignoring the Centenary Way path on the right.
12. Follow the path a few yards above a lake on your right. When this ends, maintain the same direction, crossing several stiles.
13. After crossing a stile 20 yards from the bottom of a field, walk forward 150 yards, with a white house in view in the distance. Double back to a gate - to the right of where you had previously walked - to join a bridleway through an area of woodland.
14. Immediately on leaving the woodland, turn left to follow a track that changes into a surfaced road through Osmaston Park Estate.
15. Turn left at a ‘T’ junction, down an avenue of lime trees along the drive to the former Osmaston Hall.
16. At the end of the drive, turn left to pass the duck pond you saw earlier on the walk and return to the starting point.
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PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Tissington Hall, (Tel. 01335 352200) a fine Jacobean manor house in the heart of the village. Open for guided tours on selected dates in the summer. First tour 1.30pm, last tour 4pm. Please telephone for details or visit website.
Ilam Village with its alpine style cottages and close proximity to Dovedale, is a very popular attraction. The National Trust grounds and country park of Ilam Hall are open to the public.
Ashbourne is one of Derbyshire’s finest towns, with a wealth of Georgian architecture. The triangular cobbled Market Place holds markets twice a week on Thursday and Saturday.
The Shoulder of Mutton: (Tel. 01335 342371) sadly the records of this charming old pub were destroyed in a fire and although a stone records a date of 1805, it is believed to be much older. Home cooked food is available every lunchtime and evening. Large garden with tables.
The Gingerbread Shop Tea Rooms, Ashbourne: (Tel. 01335 346753) it is said that in Napoleonic times, when French prisoners were held in the town, the recipe for gingerbread was given to an Ashbourne baker and has been used ever since. A unique example of a late 15th century timber-built building which has been in continuous use as a bakery since 1805. Open Monday to Friday 8.30am-4.30pm, Saturday 8am-4.30pm.
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Only a mile from the busy A52 that links Ashbourne and Derby, the visitor must think they are in another world when they arrive at Osmaston. Delightful half-timbered cottages under thatched roofs, lattice windows, a duck pond overlooked by a village green, a 160-year old church and an old world pub all combine in a beautiful picture postcard setting.
Thatched cottages are rare in Derbyshire, but at Osmaston, even the village hall has a thatched roof. The two oldest cottages, both with thatched roofs, overlook the duck pond, where an unusual seat can be found made up of discarded horseshoes. It looks uncomfortable, but is not.
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