A US fitness trend – urban hiking, is becoming increasingly popular across the UK, and with Chesterfield’s architecture, cobbled streets, history, park and canal, the Derbyshire town is the perfect place to create your own urban hike.
60-85% of the World’s population doesn’t engage in enough physical activity according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). However, getting fit doesn’t mean paying for a gym membership of buying expensive trainers, all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and probably a waterproof to shelter from the Great British weather.
Hiking is normally associated with hills, mountains and rural terrain, but urban hiking is about using the environment that’s on your doorstep. Typically used daily for shopping or going to work, urban hiking is all about adopting a different mindset and discovering what’s around you.
Discovering quirky buildings, hidden passages and secret gardens are the norm when it comes to urban hiking – who knows what you might stumble across as you journey through the historic market town of Chesterfield.
To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of our top places/landmarks to include in your urban hikes:
1. Crooked Spire Church – The obvious one… Chesterfield’s world-famous Crooked Spire Church is the largest church in Derbyshire and really does give the town its identity. Plan your route to end at the church and enjoy a tour, before finishing with a drink at the nearby, award-winning Stephenson’s Tea and Coffee House.
2. The Shambles – Located next to the town’s popular market, there are a number of narrow, medieval streets playing host to a range of independent shops. It’s known as The Shambles and is a fantastic area to explore during your urban adventures.
3. Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Centre – Venturing outside the town centre, Barrow Hill is home to Britain’s last working roundhouse. With several open days and events throughout the year, this unique venue is a great spot to include in your hiking trails.
4. Chesterfield Canal – Widely recognised as one of the most beautiful waterways in England, the Chesterfield Canal is a must-do for any urban hiker with 46 miles of traffic free towpath beneath your feet.
5. Markham Vale – Located at junction 29a, Derbyshire flagship business park offers a lot more than industrial units. It’s home to the Walking Together art trail which, when complete, will feature over a hundred steel figures symbolising a miner’s journey to the pit and back home. The project has already reached the halfway point, with 53 figures in place, and is open for people to visit and enjoy.
6. Chesterfield Art Trail – The Gloved Hands, Curved Reclining Form and Hidden Fruit are just three of more than 70 artworks that can be discovered on the Chesterfield Art Trail. All the artworks have been funded by the council’s ‘Percent for Art’ scheme, which since 1994 has seen the completion of over 70 new art schemes located throughout the borough that help to create a sense of place and add character to the built environment. See the map here.
7. Chesterfield Area Walking Festival – Held annually in May, this festival has lots of walks to choose from. Whether it’s boarding a narrowboat for a trip on the Chesterfield Canal followed by a walk back to Tapton Lock, a walk starting with a ride on a bus, or a walk and talk about Chesterfield’s black and white buildings. Most walks are free and are all led by a fully trained guide who knows the history, wildlife and the best countryside to walk through (as well as the best pubs to visit) in the beautiful Chesterfield landscape. The full programme of walks for the 2020 festival will be published in February.
8. Chesterfield Ghost Walk – Ghosts aren’t just for Halloween. They’re also for the dark nights of Chesterfield when you can wander the streets of Chesterfield’s Twilight Zone and listen to stories of strange sounds, shocking shades and supernatural slaughters.
9. Chesterfield Geocaching Heritage Trail – This 1.5-mile loop which begins on the Town Hall steps on Rose Hill, is a walk the entire family can get involved in. The caching heritage trail has been created and published with the permission of the council, using helpful information from the town museum. It is designed to be a fun and easy trail for all the family to hunt for clues around the town centre, spotting historical or quirky things and learning facts you may not have noticed before. It is also made to be accessible for all including wheelchairs and pushchairs, although there are some cobbled streets and slopes in parts.
10. Queen’s Park Buggy Walk – Starting at Queen’s Park Sports Centre every Monday, buggy walks are a free sociable activity for parents and carers with their baby. They’re a great way to make new friends, explore the local area and get fit whilst having fun.
Walking is not only great for fitness but also has a number of other health benefits, including:
– Reduced risk of heart disease and strokes
– Improved management of things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and joint/muscle pain
– Reduced body fat
– Improved balance
– Stronger bones
– Positive affect on mental health
Chesterfield Waterside lends itself perfectly to urban hiking. Located beside the Chesterfield Canal, residents at Waterside Quarter have easy access to Cuckoo Way, also known as the 46-mile Chesterfield Canal Towpath. The development is also only a short walk from the shops, and historic buildings in the town centre. Waterside will soon be featured in the Chesterfield Art Trail when the famous Barbara Hepworth sculpture moves to its permanent home at Basin Square at Chesterfield Waterside.
For the more adventurous, the development sits on the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT), with the 215 mile-long route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders running right through the heart of Chesterfield Waterside.
Give urban hiking a shot and discover Chesterfield. Let us know what you find and share any pictures and routes from your walks using #UrbanHikingChesterfield on Twitter.
Housebuilding has begun at Chesterfield Waterside following Avant Homes’ acquisition of a significant parcel of land where it will build 177 new houses. Discover more here. And, to ensure you’re the first to hear about the progress being made at Chesterfield Waterside, please sign up to our free newsletter using the box on this page.