northernvicarwalks – January 2020 and the start of a Pilgrimage (to Etwall) – William Stanley Way 1

In 2017 I said I would try and walk 1,000 miles. I failed. In 2018 I said I would try and walk 1,000 miles. I failed again. In 2019 I kept quiet – then had to have a minor op in the autumn which meant I wasn’t in a fit state to do much walking. I did some academic work on pilgrimage to Lindisfarne, but lack of exercise meant my weight and my blood pressure increased. I signed up to try Nordic Walking, and enjoyed it. I purchased some poles for Christmas, and we’ll see how far we get in 2020.

2020 is a year of Pilgrimage with lots of routes already on line at Julie and I have a fortnight in Orkney in the summer, so the St Magnus Way looks possible. Last year in the Hospice Shop in Stratford I purchased the guide of the Shakespeare Way which runs from his Birthplace to The Globe, and I would love to walk that. Then I wondered whether I should walk from Derby to Stratford – I thought one of Gerard Hoffnung’s advice to Foreign Tourists included “you could get a train to Stratford, but it’s not far to walk” (it’s not one of his, probably one of Dr Jeffrey Barham).

Any Walk needs a name. I obviously can’t call it the Hoffnung Way. A google tells me that William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, is one of those who might have written Shakespeare’s plays. So if I want to name my Walk from Derby to Stratford, I’ll name it after him. Might do some more research as I go.

On Saturday 18 January, after a wettish week, it dawned bright and frosty. I had been given details of an exhibition at Etwall church, so decided I would walk to Etwall. If I was going to walk to Stratford, heading south towards Burton on Trent would be a good start, and that takes me via Etwall.

It was a bit icy under foot, and I was glad I had my two Nordic poles. Through Allestree Recreation ground, down past Park Farm shops, and across into Markeaton Park – -and-open-spaces/markeaton-park/. The Mundy family had this estate from 1516 – several of the Mundys are memorialised in St Edmund’s – and gave it to the Council early in the C20. Usually on a Saturday morning it is packed for a park run, but that had been called off today. Just a few runners, most of whom were pleasant to a slower walker. I smiled at the swans – they are able to break your arm (or is it your leg?). Round past the Orangery and beside the gardens, then south towards the main road.

I walked up through Mackworth, passed Birds and Gregg’s (be impressed), passed the Catholic and Anglican churches, then I should have turned left down Merton Drive, then
Richmond Park Road and the footpath towards the trail along the railway. I made the mistake of getting onto the footpath which leads due east alongside the Sports Centre. That added a bit to my walk – it is a shame that signposting is not seen as important. Down to the Great Northern pub, and onto the Sustrans path along the old Great Northern Railway (there was a clue in the name of the pub).

They started building the line in 1875 to link the Nottinghamshire coal field across through Derby to Egginton Junction – where they could join the North Staffs down to Burton and across to Crewe. It crossed the River Derwent at the south of my parish of Darley Abbey, then entered Friargate station. Across past the huge goods’ warehouse which (like so much of Derby’s heritage) lies derelict, and then continued west through the 464 yard long Mickelover tunnel. Mickelover station was opened in 1878. At the Grouping it became part of the LNER (everything else around here was LMS), and passenger services were discontinued west of Derby in 1939. Excursion traffic continued to 1968, freight lasted until 1968, then British Rail Research Department took over the line until 1990. Note some of the signs of its history as we walk along. has some interesting photos (including the original prototype of the Advanced Passenger Train).

It is a lovely walk. A few joggers, and one young lady who (without the aid of Nordic walking poles) managed to overtake me! Nice views in both directions, and it was a gorgeous morning. Under the A516 (at least they built a bridge when they built this road), up onto the old road from Etwall to Sutton, and into Etwall village. Some nice houses – the Rectory was huge (a walk through rural England will be a picture of the decline of the influence of the Church of England).

I have already blogged St Helen’s, Etwall – etwall-derbyshire-st-heen/ – when I had a visit in 2018. I arrived today to a buzzing church. They were having a day to tell the village about the discovery of a vault in the churchyard. First I needed tea and cake – and very nice it was too. I had walked 9 miles.

Last May two workmen arrived from South Derbyshire District Council to repair the steps into the churchyard at the west end of the church. They revealed two arched openings, the ends of two large vaults in which lay nine coffins, three in the north vault and six in the south. They were allowed to insert a camera – personally I would have thought it would have made sense for someone to go in and check the roof before they bricked it up again. The news report is at burton/bodies-found-etwall-crypt-derbyshire2899429.

They knew there was a vault somewhere – indeed a memorial tablet on the north wall of the Chancel mentions it – but written records have been lost, and it had faded from the corporate memory. Research suggests it was built by the Cotton family who lived at Etwall Hall. They have managed to identify six people who are buried there (Joseph Green 1810, The Reverend W.T. Beer 1821, Rebecca Beer 1829, William Beer 1831, The Reverend Charles Evelyn Cotton 1857 and Agnes Sneyd 1862), and another five who could be there (but there are only nine coffins in all). The last one died in 1868 – so everything has been forgotten in less than 150 years. The Hall itself was demolished in the 1950s.

They had done a nice exhibition, and Geoff Lightbown had written a report and gave us an illustrated talk. I had to leave before it was concluded to catch the bus back to Derby, but I went and photoed the steps first.

The Villager bus runs from Burton via Tatton and Etwall (so, if I continue my walk towards Stratford, I will end up on it again) and stops not too far from Kingsway. I met Julie and returned to real life with a trip to TK Maxx and Pets at Home. If I call my walk a ‘Pilgrimage’ surely I can avoid such excitement!

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