About Derbys Ramblings


The title of my book Derbyshire Ramblings - Walking in Circles Down The Derwent Valley, is intended to show this is no commonplace walks guidebook.  It's light-hearted in tone, chock full of historical detail and full of musings on the subject of walking itself. 

the book contains 19 brand new circular walks, devised by Mike Warner, taking in the breadth, beauty and variety of the Derwent Valley from Ladybower, 'the Lake District of the Peak' to Long Horse Bridge in Shardlow, one of this country's best preserved canal villages. 

Different from any other walks guidebook, this is an entertaining trip down trip down the 55-mile Heritage Way including the historic Derwent Valley Mills area.  Ashley unearths the rich history of 'the valley that changed the world' through the likes of Richard Arkwright and Jedidiah Strutt, and also treats us to his whimsical yet informative musings on walking, the universe and everything, all complemented by hundreds of his stunning colour photos.

Each walk is fully detailed with a map and nature notes compiled by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust along with images of the area’s flora and fauna, taken by the region’s finest wildlife photographers.

Derbyshire Ramblings is a journey that takes in sights and sensations in Win Hill, Offerton Moor, Millstone Edge, Curbar Edge, Chatsworth Park, Jughole Wood, Riber Castle, Matlock's High Tor, Cromford Canal, Crich Stand, Shining Cliff Wood, Belper Mill, The Chevin, Morley Moor, Darley Abbey, Derby Silk Mill, Elvaston Castle and Shardlow.

Along the way, Ashley delves into fingerposts, squeezer stiles, millstones, hidden hydrangeas, disappearing villages, lawyer's wigs, bull baiting, sluggard waking, narrowboat living, walking as 'gymnastics of the mind', poets in motion, boots and blisters, Florence Nightingale's slippers, Little John's grave, canal restoration, cloud appreciation, countryside phobias, and why, without Milford, there would be no Manhattan.

In the course of compiling this book, I have been gathering fascinating quotes on the subject of walking - from Hazlitt to Hillaby, Kierkegaard to Wainwright.

In exercising the body, the question 'why walk?' has exercised the minds of walkers across the world and over time.  For me, as a walker who enjoys walking without relishing it, I find it a fascinating question.  Even for renowned walker John Hillaby, author of Journey Through Britain (about an eleven hundred mile walk from land's End to John O'Groats), it was an enigmatic and elusive question.  By the end of his mammoth walk, he seemed to have found his answer.  After stating that part of the journey would certainly have been done more easily by car, he wrote this:

'Roads are all more or less alike.  Walking is intimate; it releases something unknown in any other form of travel and, arduous as it can be, the spring of the ground underfoot varies as much as the moods of the sky.  By walking the whole way I got a sense of gradual transition from one place to another, a feeling of unity.'

A Latin proverb states simply: 'It is solved by walking,'  which the philosopher Kierkegaard expanded on when he wrote: 'Every day I walk myself into a state of well being and walk away from every illness.  I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.' 

As British historian and keen walker George Macaulay Trevelyan pointed out: 'I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg.'  For Alfred Wainwright, walking was many things, including 'a balm for jangled nerves' or 'escape from the clamour and tumult of everyday existence.'  For William Hazlitt, there was the sheer exhilaration of walking: ‘Give me the clear blue sky over my head, and the green turf beneath my feet, a winding road before me, and a three hours’ march to dinner.'

Derbyshire Ramblings is available online, priced at £14.99.  Click here to order