Above: Harsthorne Church from Several Woods Farm, Smisby.
This must be almost the highest point in the District.
Best seen large - click on photo.
Route: Smisby - Several Woods - Hartshorne - Limehouse Dam - Daniel Hayes - Forties Lane - Smisby.
Distance: about 8 km. Terrain is easy.
Transport: Regular bus through Hartshorne - so walk could start there.
This walk was quite a discovery because it is very rural yet close to both Ashby and Woodville. In places the drone of roads was completely absent, something that seems to be increasingly difficult to avoid in South Derbyshire. It's also a good walk, in my opinion, because there is a pub at either end!
I started off in Smisby and took the path by the church. The path runs around the back of the church and squeezes by a house on its left. The stile into a large field has no marker and for a moment I was disorientated. You need to turn left here and follow the field edge around the corner. You need to be walking parallel to Forties Lane after a couple of minutes. The path is OK in the first field but missing in the next. Cross Heath Lane and into a small thicket. Walk over a drive and then follow the path through a few fields. This was clearly marked. Everything is fine until you come close to Several Woods Farm where a marker seems to point you north when you need to go west around the edge of the farm complex.
If you have managed to circumnavigate the farm you'll come to a notice board. From here take the track downhill. This soon goes through a small wood past a pool. Take the main track north west for about a kilometre. You eventually emerge on Manchester Lane, turn right and you come to the Bulls Head where I had a very good pint of Pedigree (they don't sell crisps!).
I wanted to look at the church so walked downhill to Church Street. After the church a path can be seen on your right, take this uphill past a couple of bungalows. The stile in the fence was missing, clamber over it and at the next stile turn left. The route is now straightforward as you pass around Limehouse Dam and make for Daniel Hayes. When you reach a turnstile gate turn right (though if you turn right you can still get back around to Smisby by a longer route). The path is now along a low escarpment until it enters Sharp's Bottom wood. This section is very well marked for South Derbyshire. Eventually the path climbs quite steeply, keep straight ahead ignoring a track on your left. At the top just before emerging from the wood you can turn left by a sign warning about race horses or go straight on.
I went left and passed by some uninspiring forestry plantings on my left. At the end of this section you need to make your way around a large shed on your left. I didn't, ending up walking through the Calke Abbey Racing Stables. Nobody seemed to bother. I should have come out opposite Forties Lane which I took back to Smisby.
About 3 hours, slow walking with a drink in Hartshorne.