Oker Hill is one of my favourite local fell running destinations. Oker Hill is a relatively small hill that extends from the side of a larger bank. It sits between Darley Bridge and Wensley, Or if you’re heading on the back road from Matlock, just above the Hamlet of Snitterton.
It has a white painted trig point that makes it clearly visible from both high and low view- points around the Darley / Matlock area.
My usual route to the trig starts at the Church Inn, Church Town, Darley Dale, I follow the road around the corner past St Helen’s Church, turning immediate right over the fields past the dog kennels. Follow the path across the first field and you come to a broad arable field on the flood plain.
Head toward the Cricket ground and this will bring you out at Darley Bridge. Head over the Bridge and swing left down the lane called Wenslees. You’ll have the River Derwent on your left, just after the Water Treatment plant, take the stile through the fields on your right.
Most of the year, this field is boggy, expect wet feet, if you don’t have waterproof footwear. Fell runners do not care about such things, we welcome wet feet.
You’ll come to a small stile, go over and up the next field, it brings you out on a farm track called Flint Lane, Turn right, about 10 meters on your left, take the next stile and go up the next field. This field is steep and undulating. Depending on the time of year, there may be cattle or sheep in the field. If you have a dog with you, ensure it’s on a lead to avoid spooking the livestock. I have been chased by bullocks in this field so beware.
As you climb to the top of the field there’s a gate on your right, keep going up, under the Hawthorne trees, and you’ll see the land on your left rise sharply. Up and up and you’ll come to what looks like a little ski slope. If you’re fit, you can run up this in one go. If not, you know you need some training. It’s a short but steep hill and when you get to the top you reach the trig point and are rewarded with fantastic views.
I really like this little route because it gives you a reward, without killing you in the process. A relatively easy trig with great views, but you still have to make a bit of effort.
After you’ve caught your breath and taken in the view, head along the undulating path toward’s the big tree, you might spot a rabbit or two if you’re lucky. At the big Sycamore tree, there is a little shrine, I don’t know the detail behind it, but someone either loved this place or lost their life here.
Now follow the path past the tree, through the scrub and you’ll come out on the other side of Oker, to your left is an old derelict barn and your way back.
Head down toward the barn, you can now turn right into Oker and take the bottom route or head left and you’ll be heading back the way you came, just slightly lower down the hill.
Look for the shard. The shard is just my name for a sharply pointed guidepost on the path, resembling it’s more modern, London counterpart.
All you have to do now is follow the path, you’ll come out at the foot of the steep incline up to the trig. Go back down, retracing your steps and back to the pub for a well-deserved drink.
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