Welcome to Overlea Farm

Overlea is situated in Birch Vale, a village in the High Peak district of Derbyshire. It is conveniently located on the boundary of the Peak District National Park, between New Mills and Hayfield.

Birch Vale Map
Birch Vale, High Peak

Overlea has a lengthy and interesting past. Following removal of the deer from the royal forest and relaxation of the forest law in the seventeenth century, a division was made between crown and commoners. The building of farms together with new tracks and roads marked the beginning of a period of prosperity with much rebuilding of farms and the opening of many coal mines.

Overlea was built in the 1600s and is the oldest farm in the valley. Although the national census first started in 1801 only limited records remain. In 1841 the farm had 42 acres of land. Today Overlea has a mere 14 acres of farmland attached to it.

Over the years the spelling of Overlea has changed slightly, along with Oven Hill which is the road used to gain access to the farm. On old maps Overlea was spelt Overlee and Oven Hill road was Over Hill road.

Overlea nestles in a comfortable dip in the valley, conveniently sheltered from the wind. The original spelling of ‘Overlee’ refers to this – ‘lee’ referring to side which is sheltered from the wind.

The bridleway which runs parallel to Overlea was built to allow the coal mines to transport the coal up the valley. However, in the latter half of the 19th century, the coming of the railways largely spelt the end for local coal production. Superior quality coal was easily imported into the area from Yorkshire and Lancashire coalfields. Local mines were unable to compete and began to close. The brideleway can still be used today.

High Peak c.1870
Overlea Farm 1970s

Overlea was a working dairy farm up until 1962. The dairy was located in the middle of the farm building, this is now the living room of the main house. Overlea Barn and Overlea Cowshed are located adjacent to this on the gable end, where horses were also stabled.

There are a number of legends associated with the farm. The upstairs small window on the gable end at the opposite end of the holiday cottages is referred to as the Irishman’s bedroom. An Irishman lived here during the potato famine of the 1840’s. As superstition was commonplace in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, many trinkets have been located in the farm during the renovation process. In particular several pairs of concealed shoes were found hidden in the fabric of the building. It is believed that these were concealed as magical charms to protect the occupants of the building against evil influences such as demons, ghosts and witches. Others may have been intended to bestow fertility on a female member of the household.

Finally, a set of horse mounting steps used to be located at the rear of the main house, adjacent to the steps leading to the holiday cottages. Legend has it that on dark nights a mystery stranger can still be seen riding his horse down the back of the farm!

When Overlea ceased as a working farm in the 1960’s, a lengthy period of restoration and conversion commenced which has spanned several families. Overlea Farm is now home to the Hartley family and their luxury holiday cottages.