Matlock to Oker Hill and High Tor
This walk is just under 8.5 miles and starts in Matlock, heading up to Masson Hill, Oker Hill trig point and High Tor pleasure grounds. There’s lots to see on this walk, including spectacular views from High Tor with the optional challenge of Giddy Edge.
Oker Hill is the site of Will Shore’s tree, the subject of a sonnet by William Wordsworth. It’s also the site of a trig point which we needed to visit as part of the Peak District trig point challenge!
Our walk starts at Matlock Bath train station. We set off east towards the centre of Matlock Bath, a pretty Victorian town, and headed up the steep Holme Road. Here we had planned to wander through the grounds of the Heights of Abraham but the park is closed for the winter, so we had to retrace our steps back onto Upperwood Road. We continued up the hill, then picked up a footpath running behind the houses and into the woods. This is a steep old path!
After the woods, the path runs through a farmyard and out over the fields, before entering a small woodland.
Joel wanted to bag Masson Hill for his Peak District 75s but unfortunately the summit is on private land. We got as near as we could in the woods running nearby.
We carried on, crossing Salters Lane, then over the fields to Snitterton. From Snitterton we followed the footpath to join Ashton Lane, then took a footpath to climb up Oker Hill. There is a rough path running up the hill which leads up to the summit of Oker Hill, topped with a lone sycamore tree planted some 200 years ago by Will Shore as one of a pair. Apparently they were planted to commemorate two brothers, one who went to seek his fortune abroad and the other who chose to stay locally. This inspired the poet William Wordsworth to write his sonnet:
“Tis said that to the brow of yon fair hill
Two brother clomb; and turning face from face
Nor one look more exchanging, grief to still
Or feed, each planted on that lofty place
A chosen tree. Then eager to fulfil
Their courses, like two new-born rivers, they
In opposite directions urged their way
Down from the far-seen mount. No blast might kill
Or blight that fond memorial. The trees grew
And now entwine, their arms’ but ne’er again
Embraced those brothers upon earth’s wide plain,
Nor aught of mutual joy or sorrow knew
Until their spirits mingled in the sea
That to itself takes all – Eternity”
One of the sycamores fell in the 19th Century – I wonder which brother this was meant to represent? There is a lovely guest book in the roots of the Oker Hill sycamore – don’t forget to sign it if you visit!
From the sycamore, we followed the path along the hilltop to the Oker Hill trig point, which has amazing views down over the River Derwent. We were lucky enough to see the Peak Rail steam engine going past as well.
The path down from Oker Hill is very steep and was slippery when we visited. Once safely down off the hillside, we walked along Flint Lane before taking the footpath leading to Wenslees. Wenslees becomes Aston Lane which runs alongside the River Derwent.
We followed the footpaths over the fields and then behind the abandoned Permanite Asphalt factory, quite an eerie place!
The footpath was closed further along due to construction works so we had to go through the bus station and into Matlock. Crossing the road and the 15th Century Matlock Bridge. We walked through Hall Leys Park, and crossed over Bentley Brook before walking along the riverside path and then climbing up to Pic Tor, the site of a war memorial.
From the war memorial we headed through the graveyard and out onto Church Street before turning right onto Pic Tor Lane.
We headed through the gates to High Tor, a former pleasure grounds opened to the public by Peter Arkwright. There are spectacular views from High Tor down over Matlock Bath but there is a sheer drop, so please take care with young children. At the summit of High Tor is an iron girder, and not much else! You can choose to either brave Giddy Edge or walk down through the woods as we did.
Taking the woodland way definitely had it’s reward in the form of a super friendly robin!
We then walked down the roadside, and back to the railway station a short distance away.
Parking: Matlock Bath Railway Station
Facilities: There are public toilets, cafes and pubs in Matlock Bath
Walk Time: 4 hours
Distance: 8.4 miles (13.5km)
Trig Points Bagged: Oker Hill
Peak District Peaks Bagged: Oker Hill, High Tor
Peak District Ethels Bagged: None