As its name suggests, the bridge spans a pool once used by local farmers to wash their sheep’s fleeces. Now it is a haven for ducks, water voles, dippers, grey wagtails and many other birds which come to drink among the boulders and aquatic plants like meadowsweet, watercress and watermint. A bubbling and vibrant reminder of how precious water is to all forms of life.
In very dry years, the water is absent even at this point and young fish have to be rescued and moved further downstream. Some of this is due to centuries-old mine workings, the drains from which have deprived the Lathkill River of much of its former flow. Plans are now in place to block the biggest of these drains, to the great benefit of all this local wildlife.
Our walk now takes us over the bridge and into Cales Dale. After winding among thorns, hazels and past a small spring, (below and to the left of the path in wet seasons), keep right to climb a short way up to a dramatic face of river-eroded limestone, where ivy hangs in profusion. The path continues a short way along a ledge at the base of this cliff and then up a narrow staircase of steps cut into the rock. Just past the ancient mine entrance to the left, the path emerges from the woodland into open fields, via a small gate. Up the hill and a short flight of concrete steps is the fascinating farmyard of One Ash Grange.
This trail was originally developed by Simon Corble for the Royal Geographical Society’s Discovering Britain.
Simon Corble is a theatre director, playwright and actor based in Derbyshire’s Peak District, is passionate about the countryside and discovering the hidden secrets of the natural world.