Saturday, 13 July 2019

Eyam & Eyam Moor

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Route: Eyam, Eyam Hall, Lydgate Graves, Stoney Middleton, Knouchley Farm, Froggatt Bridge, Froggatt, Spooner Lane, Horse Hay Coppice, Grindleford, Coppice Wood, Leadmill Bridge, Hoghall, Tor Farm, Highlow Wood, Mill Wood, Stoke Ford, Sir William Hill, Ladywash Mine, Highcliffe, Eyam

Date: 13/07/2019
From: Eyam

Parking: Eyam
Start Point: Eyam
Region: Peak District - Dark Peak

Route length: 10.5 miles (16.9 km)
Time taken: 05:42
Average speed: 2.1 mph
Ascent: 470m
Descent: 468m

Summits: Eyam Moor (429m)

Other points of interest: Eyam, Stoney Middleton

The small village of Eyam, found in the depths of the Peak District, has become a curious attraction for tourists. It is promoted by the nickname the 'plague village' thanks to the deadly plague outbreak in the 1600s (of Black Death fame). The actions of the local villagers may well have saved hundreds of lives and had an untold effect on the spread of the disease.

The village forms the start point of this circuit around Eyam Moor, ultimately crossing the top of the moor by way of Sir William Hill on our return. I met up with my folks in the village car park late one cloudy, muggy morning (there are actually two car parks, one free and one pay and display).
The stockade opposite Eyam Hall
The first leg of the walk passes through the village itself, following the information boards which tell the story of the deadly plague outbreak.

The history of the plague in the village began in 1665 when a flea-infested bundle of cloth arrived from London for the local tailor. Within a week his assistant George Vicars was dead and more began dying in the household soon after.
The source of the plague outbreak in Eyam
As the disease spread, the villagers turned for leadership to their rector, the Reverend William Mompesson, and the Puritan Minister Thomas Stanley. These introduced a number of precautions to slow the spread of the illness from May 1666. They included the arrangement that families were to bury their own dead and relocation of church services to the natural amphitheatre of Cucklett Delph, allowing villagers to separate themselves and so reducing the risk of infection. Perhaps the best-known decision was to quarantine the entire village to prevent further spread of the disease.
Eyam Parish Church
The grave of Thomas Stanley
A celtic cross also resides in the church graveyard
The plague ran its course over 14 months and one account states that it killed at least 260 villagers, with only 83 surviving out of a population of 350. While this may not seem a high number, the mortality rate was double that seen in London.

Survival among those affected appeared random, as many who remained alive had had close contact with those who died but never caught the disease. For example, Elizabeth Hancock was uninfected despite burying six children and her husband in eight days (the graves are known as the Riley graves after the farm where they lived). The unofficial village gravedigger, Marshall Howe, also survived despite handling many infected bodies

As we made our way through the village, we passed another curious remnant of Eyam's plague related past, a plague stone, sited on the boundary of the village. These stones were used to mark the perimeter of the infected area, signifying the area that should not be crossed by either inhabitant or outsider. Vinegar-soaked coins were left in holes on the stone as a means of continuing trade with other villages.
One of the plague stones around the village
The drilled holes
The path dips down into Stoney Middleton, passing the curious Bath House in the village. There are two baths, one for ladies and the other for gentlemen, separated by a wall, each measures 3m x 4m and 1.5m deep and are accessed by stone steps. The once open-air baths were covered over in Victorian times with its twin roofs and arched windows by Lord Denman, Lord Chief Justice of England who lived at Stoney Middleton Hall. However, it fell into a sad state of repair until in 1986 when the Parish Council initiated its restoration, with financial aid from the Peak District National Park. The building is now classified as a ‘Grade II Listed Building’ and treasured by the local community.
Stony Middleton
Stoney Middleton Bath Houses
The spring behind the bath houses
Eyam Moor
The path close to Kouchley Farm
Curbar Edge
The River Derwent at Froggatt
We made our way to Knouchley Farm and the River Derwent. Here, by the river, we joined the Derwent Valley Heritage Way, a long-distance path that explores the heritage of the River Derwent.It starts at Heatherdene on the banks of Ladybower Reservoir and follows the River Derwent through the Peak District National Park via Chatsworth and the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site until the Derwent joins the River Trent near Shardlow.
Spooner Lane
The Derwent Valley between Matlock Bath and Derby was granted World Heritage Site status in 2001 due to its importance as the birthplace of the water-powered factory system for textile manufacture - a milestone in the industrial revolution.
A distant Millstone Edge
We followed the way a few miles north, following the Derwent along the east side of Eyam Moor to Leadmill before entering the valley of Highlow Brook. Here, we climbed past the gates of Hoghall and along the rim of the valley to Highlow Wood, nestled beneath the rounded slopes of High Low hill. With a few spots of light rain starting to fall, we made it to Stoke Ford.
Horse Hay Wood below Froggatt Edge
Horse Hay Wood
The path running through Horse Hay Coppice
One of the many Footpath Society signs you can find in the Peak District
The Derwent Valley Way close to Grindleford
From the valley bottom a short, sharp climb clears the trees and extends out onto the openness of Eyam Moor. A radio mast and trig pillar sit atop the highest point which has a commanding view of the northern Peak District. A stone circle can be found on the northern slopes of Eyam Moor, it is one of the largest in the Peak District.
Green fields at Leadmill
Stanage Edge and Hathersage
Stoke Ford
The path on the north side of Eyam Moor
Dark clouds over the Dark Peak
The highest point of Eyam Moor is actually called Sir William Hill. The hill was known as Sir William at least as far back as 1692 which suggests that it was named after one of several Sir Williams of the Cavendish family (of Chatsworth fame) or Sir William Peveril (of Peveril Castle fame), both famed locations in the Peak District.
Abney Clough
Offerton Moor beyond Eyam Moor
A patchwork of colour - Mam Tor in the distance
Eyam Moor
Approaching the top of Eyam Moor
A grand view over the Dark Peak
Sir William Hill
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The summit is only a short distance away from Eyam village and a swift descent down the southern slopes, past the Ladywash Mine, leads to the top of the wooded Eyam Edge. A steeper track led us back through the woods to the village.
Goddards Quarry
Back down to Eyam

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