Off the Derbyshire Beaten Track is a series of road tours, talks and trips. 

These events are lead by Frances  Wilkins, from a family of Derbyshire local historians. Frances recently returned home after several years as a ‘wandering scholar’ in Scotland, Cumbria and on the Isle of Man. She has extensive experience of guided tours, including a series of c18th century smuggling trails in south-west Scotland, and of giving talks. 

Most importantly, her individual input is included in each of the Derbyshire road tours, talks and trips. 



These are escorted road tours and trips with a difference, providing an unforgettable insight into the history of Debyshire, off the beaten track. Aimed  at local people or visitors to the area, these tours and trips use evidence from the past to tell the story of what can be seen in the present, from sites of Roman potteries to disused mine workings to rose gardens.

There are three different road tours.

The 40 mile tour is a journey of discovery starting from Ashbourne, heading first east and then north to find several themes or subplots.

The Lead Mines Great and Small road tour looks at the lives of the people involved in Derbyshire lead mining. If there are enough people on the tour, arrangements can be made to include a visit to underground mine workings.

The Links between Derbyshire and the Slave Trade road tour connects both ends of the slave trade: the cloths that were sent from Derbyshire to Africa to barter for slaves with an owner of plantations in Jamaica.

The trips include venues open to the public. Therefore the history behind the rose gardens trip visits Hopton and/or Tissington Halls. A trip to Keldeston Hall looks at their exhibitions of the Delhi Durbar in 1903. Transport is available from Ashbourne or you can meet Frances at the venue. 

Field trips are associated with three day-schools about the wild flowers mentioned in Elizabeth Rainbow’s c17th herbal.

When Frances is involved in an event at Dalemain in Cumbria transport is available from Ashbourne.