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Twin villages, reservoir views and a Norman fort on a 4 mile walk

Summary:
The people of Sheffield have been beguiled by the beauty of the twin villages of Low Bradfield and High Bradfield for centuries and this walk visits both on a lovely circular route which also leads to Agden reservoir and to the low peat moorland hills of the Black Peak. Also of interest is a visit to the site of a 12th century motte-and-bailey castle.

The Walk:
I arrived in Low Bradfield just as others were, a line of cars assembling neatly in order on the roadside by the cricket field. I walked a few paces to the village bridge from where I watched a family being besieged by ducks and geese near Agden Dike. All were happy, which made me cheerful too. I maintained my smile as I walked from Kirk Bridge and out of the village to Windy Bank.

I continued on the Windy Bank road to reach the reservoir house at the west end of Agden Dam. I passed the fine Victorian lodge and followed a path through a gate down from the road to the reservoir side. For the next kilometre I enjoyed walking on the permissive path provided by the water company for the pleasure of local people. As I walked on the leaf-filled path I passed quite a few people enjoying the setting as much as I. Near the head of the reservoir I looked across the water, where Rocher Edge shimmered in sunlight.

At the point where the reservoir tapered up to Agden Dike, I was forced to climb a path from the waterside up to a bridleway halfway up Windy Bank. This would take me around the head of the reservoir to Agden Side. The bridleway led me to Agden Wood and then to the crossing of Agden Dike. After leaving the path skirting around the perimeter of the reservoir I did the hard work. The climb of Agden Side was not too long but it was steep. Hands on knees catching my breath, the reward was a super view northwest up the head of Agden Valley and due west to the Peak District outlier hill of Emlin on the flank of Bradfield Moor.

After my ascent I walked along the elevated path above Agden Side towards Frost House. On the path ahead of me I noticed a juvenile highland cattle. It looked at me as if to say "Go around, I have no intention of moving aside". I spotted the rest of the herd sheltered in thick bracken around a small copse of Hawthorn. It seemed that all were enjoying a quiet day in the sunshine just as I was. I came to a gate into a small paddock area. Immediately through the gate I turned right and uphill once more for a very short distance, which brought me to Smallfield Lane. I crossed the lane to track across a field to Load Field Road, which I also crossed immediately. I was now looking down a walled track leading downhill to Rocher Head.

As I walked down the lane I looked up to my left. I was nearing Rocher Edge. Soon I came to an abandoned farm with buildings having walls but no roofs and the environs of the farm having a range of rusting farm machinery still standing from where it was abandoned. Views to the west across Agden Reservoir and to the moors were stunning; I imagined how could it have come to be abandoned having such sublime surroundings. It must have been hard to wrench oneself away.

I continued walking from the solemn surrounding of the abandoned farm to Bowsen and then on a roundabout path through a forested plantation and across Rocher End Brook. After passing the pretty site of a small waterfall I climbed to a wood side and began to divert my thoughts to the next highlight of the walk. The thought of exploring the site of a 12th century Norman-motte-and-bailey fort took over all my thoughts. From the path, my approach to the main bailey fortification was along the long slender motte earthwork. I walked the path along the full length of the Motte, about 100 metres in total, before having to descend steeply to the dry moat around the bailey before climbing steeply for 10 metres to the top. Now wooded, the bailey would have been a formidable defence in its time. As I stood on top of the bailey I imagined the drawbridge which would have bridged the moat to the motte in earlier times.

Having retraced my steps along the motte back to the path I then crossed a field to enter the grounds of High Bradfield church. Walking through the cemetery led me to the village which, although small, is very beautiful. The views High Bradfield enjoy of the Agden Valley, across Low Bradfield to the high edges of the southeast Peak District, are lovely. After looking around the village I returned to the path, which took me down beside the churchyard to a field which would lead me down a path through more fields running parallel to Woodfield Lane and back to Low Bradfield.

I bounded down the fields, such as was my mood after the enjoyment of the lovely circular walk. After the fields I followed a lane down to Agden Dike and across a wooded bridge close to the dam of Agden reservoir. This led me to the north side of the cricket field. I noticed more families enjoying time with the ducks and geese. It seemed they never tired of the attention. The idyllic scene left me with a final positive thought from a walk full of positives.

11.04.2016

Information

Distance: 4.3 miles.
Public transport: 61 or 62 bus.
Parking: Roadside parking near the Cricket Club, S6 6LA (marked on map below).
Route map: Download GPX file.
Recommended OS map: Dark Peak Area (OL 1).
Useful links: Yorkshire Water info on Agden and Damflask.
Where to eat & drink: The Schoolrooms butchery, deli and cafe.
Flask End Cafe.
Call in for a drink at The Old Horns Inn in High Bradfield, and enjoy the view from the beer garden.

Edited from a piece originally published on Mike Brockhurst's Walking Englishman. The Walking Englishman is a fantastic resource, filled with Mike's personal reflections on and recommendations of walks up and down the country.

Photos courtesy of Mike Brockhurst/Walking Englishman.

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