Undiscovered Derbyshire - Ashover and the Amber Valley
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The Amber Valley is a little recognised area of outstanding beauty squeezed, as it is, between the M1 and the Peak District. In the rush to explore the national park, the Amber Valley offers glorious views, industrial heritage and a rich history.
The walk starts in the pretty village of Ashover and takes us steeply up onto Ravensnest where evidence of mining is all around us. We continue to climb up steep sided valleys that open up to sweeping views across the Amber Valley.
As we make our way towards Ogston Reservoir, we pass the atmospheric ruins of Trinity Chapel built in the 13th century and a site of pilgrimage by local residents once a year.
Our walk continues to Brackenfield (with reputedly the largest village green in England) and onto Ogston Reservoir built in 1958 and the place where Dame Ellen MacArthur honed her skills.
After circumnavigating the reservoir, we head back to Ashover via the hidden valley of Overton. A beautiful valley devoid of the noise of modern life.
Back in Ashover, we have the chance to rest our weary feet in one of three local pubs.
What to bring
Here is a standard list of kit items that can be adapted to suit individual needs.
Boots: Hiking boots are arguably the most essential piece of kit when hiking just about anywhere. Walker’s should make sure that their boots are both waterproof and breathable, and provide good ankle support. Boots should also be in good condition.
Socks: Walking socks are often overshadowed by those new to hiking, with many novices failing to invest in proper socks. Good walking socks are essential in regards to keeping the feet dry, and in turn stopping the development of blisters. Sports socks and other socks not designed for walking will often become waterlogged, or damaged which will in turn blister feet.
Gators: Gators attach to the bottom of walking boots and extend to just under the knee. They provide waterproofing for the bottom half of the leg, and are essential in keeping the feet dry.
Walking Trousers: Walking trousers should be of a windproof design and made of a rip stop material, that will stand up to walking through ferns and undergrowth. They should also ideally be water resistant, or at least not gain weight, and lose their insulation properties when wet. Jeans are therefore to be avoided, as they are heavy when wet and provide no protection from the elements.
Waterproof Trousers: Waterproof trousers are essential in keeping the legs dry, as water resistant trousers will not keep out any significant rainfall. Walker’s should look for waterproof trousers that are breathable, in order to avoid being soaked with sweat.
Base Layer: A breathable base layer should be chosen in order to let sweat escape from the body. This should ideally consist of a breathable synthetic, specially designed fabric, though a cotton T-Shirt is sufficient.
Mid Layer: A Mid Layer goes on top of the base layer and should consist of a 100 weight micro fleece, or a rugby typed thick shirt. The layering system is important as it allows walkers to quickly adapt to changes in the weather as well as body temperature.
Outer Layer: The outer layer should consist of a windproof jacket or a thick fleece. This is the final layer and walkers should ensure that this layer provides ample warmth.
Waterproof Jacket: A good waterproof jacket is one of the most important pieces of kit you will require when hiking. Walkers should look for a jacket that is both waterproof and breathable in order for them to be protected from sweat. Materials such as Gore-tex are often the best choices.
Hat: As most heat is lost through the head a good hat is essential. The best hats are those of a fleece design, with wool also being acceptable.
Gloves: Gloves are essential in the colder months as walkers will require the usage of their fingers for various activities such as map reading. Windproof or better still waterproof gloves are the best choice.
Rucksack: A good Rucksack that is comfortable to wear is essential, and required to carry both food and equipment. Day sacks should have a capacity of around 30 litres with equipment being placed in water proof bags inside.
Food & drink
Please bring a packed lunch and plenty of fluids. As it will be mid-January, a hot drink might be welcome if the temperature is on the chilly side!
At the end of the walk, there is an opportunity to quench your thirst at one of three pubs in Ashover.