Country Images Magazine North Edition November 2017 - Page 56

A Walk Around and Over Swarkestone Bridge Starting with Swarkestone Bridge, there are three other historical features passed by on this walk around the Trent’s fl oodplain near Melbourne. With a total ascent of only 65 feet (20 metres), it follows grassy footpaths, an old railway trail, minor roads and a quiet farm track on its way around this historical part of South Derbyshire. Useful Information Swarkestone Bridge Swarkestone Old Hall Gate House After dropping down from Stanton-by-Bridge, the walk crosses a couple of fi elds below Swarkestone Bridge, giving a view of the way the thirteenth century builders made what is really a causeway carried over 17 arches. It still makes a dry crossing of the fl oodplain and it can genuinely claim to be the longest stone bridge in England. Originally made from timber, it was rebuilt in its present unaltered form around the fourteenth century. Part of the King’s Highway and for 300 years the main crossing of the Trent, it saw confl ict during the English Civil War and was where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s forward Jacobean troops panicked and retreated after incorrect information made them think they were about to come under attack. By sheer chance, having walked this walk, I discovered that my colleague Maxwell Craven’s September 2016 Country Images ‘Lost Houses’ article covered Swarkestone Old Hall. To glean more information, I suggest, like I did, that you read his article (you can fi nd it under Swarkestone Old Hall on Google). This is the second most interesting feature seen along the way. What you are looking at are the twin towers of an imposing gatehouse to a now vanished large Tudor mansion built by Sir Richard Harpur (1512-1577). Now a holiday let for two, the gatehouse overlooks a grassed over garden that once included a bowling alley. All that is left of the main house are scattered stone walls leading to the modern version of the original farmhouse. As idyllic as it now seems, life was not always tranquil at the hall, as witness the scars left from a skirmish during the English Civil War. King’s Newton comes at the turning point of the walk. It can be by-passed, but it is more interesting to follow the quiet road through the village. A stone preaching cross stands at one end and there is even a holy well, but the real eye-catchers are the black and white 15th century houses. More common in Cheshire they act as foreground to the 16th century, one time home of Henry Hardinge, later Viscount Hardinge following his success at the Battle of Sobaron in India. His arms are displayed outside the dog and walker-friendly village pub that also dates from the 16th century. The walk starts and fi nishes at Stanton-by- Bridge where roadside parking is limited, so Walk Derbyshire 3 is available through selected outlets around the County for only £2.99! or buy on-line at WALK 3 14 More walks with a differenc e - written from Ramblers deep love and in-depth historical knowledge of this inspiration al County. from Ramblers deep love and in-depth historical knowledge of this inspirational County. 14 carefully selected walks around Derbyshire 56 | 14 More walks with a difference - written please do not block anyone’s access. Houses in this quiet village have fi ne views over the Trent meadows; its towerless church dates from Saxon times, but there are also examples of Norman work, especially with the chevron moulding around the doorway. Below the village the white sails of sailing club dinghies make a pretty scene as they gracefully skim around the fl ooded gravel quarry. NOW ON WALK 3 SALE 5 miles (8km) of easy walking on fi eld paths, canal towpath, railway trail, farm lanes and quiet by-roads. Recommended map: Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale Explorer Sheet 245 ‘The National Forest’. Bus Service: Arriva Service 2A & 2B run half hourly from Derby to Melbourne. Alight at the Stanton-by-Bridge turning. Car Parking: Roadside in Stanton-by- Bridge. Please do not interfere with anyone’s access. Refreshments: Crewe and Harpur Arms near the northern end of the bridge at Swarkestone and the Hardinge Arms in King’s Newton.