Overshadowed by both its more famous neighbours, the Hamps is a river which deserves to be better known. The river valley and the low hills surrounding it offer good walking in pleasant scenery, even if it lacks the spectacular sights which adorn the Manifold and Dove valleys. The route described here explores the valley, making the outward trip along one side of the Hamps and returning along the other - though as an alternative you could use the Manifold and Hamps Trail as either an outward or return route.
Start at the little hamlet of Waterfall, just north of Waterhouses - or at Waterhouses itself and walk to Waterfall along Rocester Lane, which turns off the A523 about 400 metres east of the Crown Inn in the centre of the village. You can reach it by taking the little lane which starts almost opposite the Crown Inn.
From Waterfall take the little footpath which leads to the churchyard and continue through the other side on a path which takes you down to Back O' th' Brook, a collection of farms grouped around the stream below. The road fords the stream, but it's usually dry in summer.
The track now deteriorates, going through a gate and then down across a shallow dale, which sometimes has a small stream flowing down it. The track climbs up the other side and curves round left. At this point it seems obvious to continue straight on through a gateway straight ahead of you, but this is not a footpath. Instead follow the track round to the left, go though a metal gate, and head straight uphill (and away from the Hamps valley) following a fence/hedge.
At the top of the hill you exit from this field onto a track which leads uneventfully into the village of Grindon. When the track forks just as you enter the village you can go either way, but it is probably simpler to go left and head for the public road and then turn right rather than following the right fork, which takes a circuitous route to avoid going though farmyards.
Either way, once in Grindon take the road which leads out of the village in the direction of Weags Bridge and the Manifold Valley. At the last left-hand bend before Weags Bridge you can take a short-cut by following a path which descends the spur below through a small Nature Reserve to emerge on the Manifold and Hamps Trail close to Beeston Tor, which has been visible for some time now.
Cross the trail and walk across the field to Beeston Tor farm. Opposite the farm buildings a track leads off up the hillside. This climbs up into a fine position overlooking the lower Manifold valley and then fades out. Don't follow the obvious route here up the shallow dale ahead - branch slightly left to take a path which is virtually unmarked on the ground and heads for the centre of a small wood at the top of the rise. Here a stile leads over into a field with a track which is descended to Throwley Hall.
At the top of the field you reach a large stile. Cross it and continue across the next field to another stile, then cross the following field diagonally to arrive at a very well-preserved specimen of an old lime-kiln, one of the best in the area, with a farm track behind it. Turn right up the track, which takes you to an isolated farmhouse called Slade House.
Two tracks lead into the farmyard at Slade House - take the left-hand one, which leads to Calton. On arriving at the road, cross it to take a footpath on the other side, which soon leads to another road. Turn right and a follow this for 200 metres around the back of Calton village until you arrive at a sharp bend where a track branches off right.
Turn along this track and follow it northwards for about 300 metres to the head of a shallow dale on your left. A stile here leads to a path which descends initially towards the Hamps and then traverses northwards around the hillside before making a zig-zag descent to the Manifold and Hamps Trail below.
If you started from Waterhouses then your return route is upstream via the Trail. However, to return to Waterfall you should only follow the Trail for 200 metres to just after it crosses the Hamps and then take a stile on your right to follow the footpath which climbs up the side of the valley to Pitchings Farm above. The footpath continues past the farm and climbs up to the west up over Lamber Low and back to Waterfall. (Please note that the lane leading out of Pitchings Farm is not a right of way).