Enjoy a 4.5km poetry walk from Middleton to Youlgreave in the Peak District National Park.
Time for a stroll – says outdoors writer Helen Moat – a literary treasure hunt created as a millennium project by Middleton and Smerrill Parish around its boundary (sitesofmeaning.org.uk). In Middleton-by-Youlgreave I find the village stone, a focal point radiating lines out to the 17 Sites of Meaning, which mark the 17 entrance points to the parish. They include boulders, kerbs, fence posts, clapper bridges, drystone walls and commissioned sculptures, all carved with a text of poetry or prose chosen by someone living in the parish. I’m searching out five today.
Take the footpath east out of Middleton towards Hopping Farm.
2. Dale Discoveries
In Row Dale I find my first inscription on an old clapper bridge: “Consult the Genius of the Place in all; That tells the Waters to rise or fall” (Alexander Pope). Retracing my steps to Bradford Dale, I spot the second: a stack of stone books wedged into a drystone wall. The text reads: “Burbling, bumbling, bleating – Dip your ghosts into this hard, cold merky place.” At Bradford Bridge, I find the poetry of Wordsworth: “Still glides the stream, and shall forever glide”.
The poet’s words echo the beauty of the dale. The clear waters of the Bradford are dappled green and blue, while trout snake through pondweed in a series of fishing ponds.
Join the Limestone Way on the southern banks of the River Bradford and continue east.
4. Bull’s Head
I climb up to Youlgreave and refuel at the Bull’s Hotel before returning to Middleton by road.
5. Final finds
Take the road back towards Middleton alongside woodland.
The last inscriptions are found on a kerb and bench built into a wall on the bend of the road. “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). And it’s true – over seven perfect days, the serenity and beauty of the Peak District has given me a renewed vigour.
Click on the map below for an interactive version of the route.