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Explore the Hope Valley

Sheffield DA: Thornhill, Peak District National Park 12th - 14th May

The weekend of Friday 12th to Sunday 14th May takes Sheffield DA to Thornhill, in the Hope Valley, a popular and stunning area within the Peak District National Park.

The four charming villages of Castleton, Hope, Bamford, and Hathersage are the main tourist attractions in this area:

Castleton is famous for its show caves, including the Blue John Cavern and Speedwell Cavern. The village is also famous for the 11th Century Peveril Castle, now preserved by English Heritage, having been founded shortly after the Norman conquest and established as a strategic stronghold in the area.

The village of Hope is overlooked by the imposing skyline of Lose Hill and Win Hill, and home to the charming Hope Church. Fans of the TV series, "The Last Kingdom" may be interested to know that Edward the Elder, son of Alfred the Great, granted lands at Hope to the real Uhtred, son of Eadulf of Bamburgh. The village was also the site of the Roman settlement of Navio.

Bamford is known for its scenic walks overlooking the River Derwent and the escarpment of Bamford Edge, above the village. Although technically in the Derwent Valley, Bamford straggles the two valleys, no doubt the settlement benefitted from this location, with the name originally in old-English as"˜Beam-ford’, or “˜wooden footbridge’,

At the other end of the valley, nestling at the foot of dramatic gritstone edges, Hathersage is famous for its connections to Robin Hood and Little John, with Little John’s grave located in the church yard above the village. The Yorkshire-born novelist Charlotte Brontë spent time at the vicarage in the village and this location is said to have inspired scenes for her famous novel, Jane Eyre.

The Hope Valley is home to some of the most stunning natural wonders in the Peak District, including Winnatt's Pass and Mam Tor. Winnatt's Pass is a narrow and steep gorge that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. It was formed by glacial meltwaters during the last ice age and is now a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts..

Mam Tor, also known as the "Shivering Mountain," is another natural wonder that attracts visitors from all over the world. At 517-metres, Mam Tor offers stunning views of the Hope Valley and the surrounding area, leading into “The Great Ridge”, which overlooks both Hope and Edale valleys. Mam Tor it is also home to several Bronze Age burial mounds and an Iron Age fort. Until 1979 Mam Tor was traversed by the trans-Pennine A625, however the geology proved too much for the road surface, which eventually succumbed to the shale, with the steep and narrow Winnatt’s Pass becoming the only alternative. The surfaced road can still be seen as it lies broken and abandoned.

View from Rushup Edge
View from Rushup Edge. Mam Tor and the Great Ridge to the right. Lose Hill and Win Hill in the distance

The Hope Valley has a rich history dating back to prehistoric times, and the region is home to numerous archaeological sites and ancient ruins. In the Middle Ages, the Hope Valley was a centre for lead mining and quarrying. In the present day, the prominent stack of the Hope Cement works is located at the heart of the valley, to many this appears as a scar blighting the natural beauty, however it is an important employer for the valley community.

With such a long history, it is unsurprising that the Hope Valley is also steeped in legends and folklore. The 462-metre summit of Win Hill looks down on Sheffield DA’s meet site, the hill being the location for one of the most famous Hope Valley legends; the tale of Lose Hill and Win Hill where, according to local legend, the two hills witnessed an ancient battle between the forces of Edwin of Northumbria and Cynegils of Wessex. Edwin elected to take his strategic position on Win Hill, while Cynegil’s army took up arms on the slightly higher summit of Lose Hill, at 476-meters. In the course of the battle, Cynegil saw an opportunity and made his move, advancing bravely up Win Hill, however Edwin was ready for the assault, taking a defensive position behind a stone wall they had hastily constructed. Edwin pounced in a counter-attack, urging his troops to push the wall down the hill, sending boulders flying to crush the Wessex soldiers, thus securing victory for the Northumbrians. Alternative folklore pitches a similar battle between two giants of ancient times over a maiden's affections, the two hurling rocks at each-other across the valley until eventually Lose Hill succumbed, with his head remaining at the summit and the victor living out his days atop Win Hill. Could either tale be true? Well who knows but perhaps remember to take a glance up from Sheffield DA's Thornhill meet site and let your imagination wander!

Following the River Derwent upstream from Bamford, the visitor will reach the Derwent Valley and Ladybower Reservoir as emerges from the woodland. Constructed between 1935 and 1943, the reservoir engulfed the villages of Ashopton and Derwent in order to provide fresh water for the growing East Midlands cities of Nottingham, Derby and Leicester, with via a 28 mile aqueduct which passes through the Chatsworth Estate to an underground Severn Trent reservoir at Ambergate, which also routes water to Rivelin dams to serve Sheffield.

Interestingly, prior to the flooding of the valley, Derwent village was host to early Sheffield DA meets in the valley, with the DA photographic archives recording these 1936 meets at Old House Farm, along with members visiting the now demolished and drowned Derwent Hall. The images below show the Sheffield DA camping by the River Derwent as it meanders peacefully through the valley. Almost 90 years later, Sheffield DA are still camping nearby and members can enjoy this beautiful area. To view more pictures from the SDA archives, click here.

Ladybower and Derwent reservoirs may be familiar as the location that Guy Gibson and his 617 Squadron trained for the famous Operation Chastise “Dambusters” raid on the Ruhr Valley. On occasions, the roar of the Lancaster Merlin engines can be heard echoing down the valley in ceremonial flypast.

Less than a 15 minute drive from Sheffield DA’s Thornhill site and a short walk from the Upper Derwent visitor centre leads to the Derwent Reservoir dam wall, which offers a spectacular site when the reservoirs are full, when a wall of water gushes over the wall and continues down the valley below into Ladybower.

Today, the Hope Valley is a popular destination for tourists looking to explore the natural beauty and rich history of the Peak District and is extremely accessible, benefitting from excellent transport links, road, rail and bus services from Sheffield. From scenic walks and cycling routes to historic sites and cultural attractions, there is something for everyone in this charming corner of Derbyshire, yet hardly a stone’s throw from the City of Sheffield.

Sheffield DA Meet

Four Acres, Thornhill, Peak District National Park

Friday 12th – Sunday 14th May.

MR 110/196827

53°20'30.7"N 1°42'20.2"W


£10.00 Per Unit Night

Booking not required

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