A perfect new year’s walk: Chatsworth House and Beeley

Updated January 5, 2015

This is a magical walk through beautiful Derbyshire countryside.

It’s a nine-mile circuit so not for everyone but if you love an excellent tramp through sensational landscape, punctuated by fantastic food and drink, it really is worth it.

Sixteenth-century Chatsworth House justifies a visit even if you’re not walking. The Duke of Devonshire’s spectacular pad is one of Britain’s finest stately homes. It also has the added attraction of an award-winning farm shop. Chatsworth holds various food-oriented events throughout the year, and its farmyard and playground are ideal for kids. The 105-acre garden isn’t bad, either.

The walk – which involves a steep uphill climb, mud (usually) and stiles – starts at Chatsworth House and winds through the pretty village of Beeley. You could eat at Chatsworth House itself or grab something in Beeley, where you can choose between the Old Smithy café (closed on Mondays) or award-winning Devonshire Arms. Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop, which is not on the walk route but isn’t far away, is also worth a visit if you have time.

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The walk

Click on map to enlarge

1 Park in Chatsworth House car park (£2 when we last parked there) and walk towards the house. Continue past the house and cross the old stone bridge with three arches (pictured below).

2 After crossing the bridge, turn left onto the grass and head towards the steps cut into the grass bank in the distance on the other side of the field.

3 Climb the steps and follow the river’s edge. After several hundred yards, pass a disused watermill on your right and then rejoin the road at a metal gate just to the right of another bridge. Cross this narrow, humpback bridge and take an immediate right, following the footpath marker. Follow the track across the middle of the field to Beeley.

4 At the end of the field, exit through a metal gate and cross a busy road. Go straight on along the one-way street, passing St Anne’s church on your left.

St Anne’s church

5 At the end of the road, turn right, following the sign to the Old Smithy. Follow the road as it winds downhill to the right. Look out for the Old Smithy towards the bottom of the hill on the left. The Devonshire Arms is opposite. The Old Smithy is a superb cafe for a snack, homemade cake or something larger – it’s closed on Mondays and if you’re with a dog, you’ll have to eat on the outside patio. The Devonshire Arms is an award-winning gastro pub that serves a good selection of real ales. Again, the pub doesn’t allow dogs in and also asks walkers to remove their muddy boots before entering (see below for more information).

6 Walk back up the hill, retracing your footsteps, and take your first right at the tree and bench. Follow the road.

7 The road soon becomes a single-lane track and you start an uphill climb. A few hundred yards after the single-lane track begins, at the start of a right-hand bend, look for a footpath sign pointing to the left. Follow this sign, taking the grassy footpath uphill.

8 Continue to a gate in a stone wall. Go through and follow the wall uphill. After around 100 yards, go through a gate on your right, into a wooded area. Follow the well-trodden path uphill. 

9 Cross a stream using stepping stones and carry on uphill, with the stream on your left in a steep valley. Stick fairly close to the stream and wind your way through the trees. You’re likely to encounter a bit of mud.

10 Carry on uphill, following the track. There are no markers but the route is fairly clear – just keep following the stream – and the climb is steep.

11 Eventually the path bends to the right, away from the stream, and levels out. After 50-100 yards of level path, look for a distinctive stone on your left (see picture). At this stone, turn left (hairpin bend) and carry on uphill.

12 At a fork in the path, turn right and walk up to the road. Go over the stone steps in the wall and turn left to follow the track downhill. Stick to the track as it bends to the left. As it bends left again, go straight on over the stone steps in the wall to the right of the gate.

13 Follow the track onto open moorland (do not turn right to Hob Hurst’s House). Carry on across the moor, admiring the views of the Derwent Valley to your left. Eventually you see Park Farm on your right and reach a wooded area and gate. Climb over the stone steps and walk into the wooded area.

14 Follow the path straight ahead, cross the stream and follow the bend to the right. At the crossroads in the path, go straight on, following a sign to ‘Robin Hood’. Eventually, Swiss Lake comes into view on your right.

15 After around half a mile you’ll see Emperor Lake on your left and the track crosses a stream.

16 Follow the road around the Hunting Tower (pictured below) and Chatsworth now comes into view on your right. Follow the road downhill for around a quarter of a mile until you reach a path on your right opposite two wooden railings (pictured below). This path, which isn’t obvious, cuts down to rejoin a winding road, which you can then follow to descend to Chatsworth car park.

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The Old Smithy, Beeley


A licensed café/restaurant and deli, the Old Smithy serves a wide range of food in its spacious dining area and outside on the patio. It’s open 10am-4pm but closed on Mondays. From breakfasts and light snacks to full-on mains, the food’s homemade and excellent, and the cakes are hard to resist (it’d be rude not to if you’re about to tackle Beeley Hill). It gets busy so it’s worth booking. The full English is recommended, as is the Welsh rarebit. It also sells the odd cook book, including one full of local dishes – Recipes From The Chatsworth Villages.
The Old Smithy, Chapel Hill, Beeley, Derbyshire DE4 2NR, 01629 258927

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The Devonshire Arms, Beeley

This 18th century pub and restaurant has been a meeting place for walkers for many years. The food is of a high standard – Chef Patron Alan Hill is a past winner of the Publican’s Pub Chef of the Year award. There is a warm and inviting oak-beamed bar at the front with roaring fire in winter. You have the choice of eating in the bar or in a more traditional dining area just off, or you can go through to the recently built restaurant, which overlooks a pretty trout stream that flows through Beeley village.
The Devonshire Arms, Devonshire Square, Beeley, Derbys DE4 2NR, 01756 718111

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Matt Wright
The author:

Matt lives in Leicestershire with his wife, two kids and dog. He is passionate about British pubs, slow food and home brewing. He founded Great Food Club (originally as Great Food Magazine) in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town of Melton Mowbray - Britain's 'Rural Capital of Food'.