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The Walk

The fourteen miles from Hartington to Millers Dale are a delight throughout. After yesterday's dale scenery today's walk gives a far more varied and rounded view of the Peak District, taking in a mixture of little villages, pastures, river valleys, moorland plateaux and disused rail lines. And yes, there are dales as well. There are excellent public transport links at several points on the walk, as well as youth hostels at each end. There is only one problem with this walk and that's the layout of the White Peak OS map - our route jumps from one side of the map to the other several times. You have to unfold it fully to switch sides so make sure you're in a sheltered spot out of the wind each time you do this.

Walk Statistics:
Length: 13.2 miles / 21.2 km
Total ascent: 1747 ft / 532 m
Total descent: 1850 ft / 564 m
Estimated time: 4 hrs 41 mins

Map:  OS 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure 24 (The Peak District, White Peak area)

Click on any thumbnail image in this gallery to display the corresponding full size image. The images are access protected through a cgi script to prevent hotlinking. If you encounter problems while trying to view the full size images, please read the access advice page.

Photographic note: Owing to awkward bus times when I did this walk in 1990, it was done in the reverse direction (from Millers Dale southwards) and unfortunately my camera jammed in Deep Dale, less than half way through the walk. The images are relatively poor anyway, owing to dull weather through much of the day. They will be replaced by a new set at a later date.


Having either woken up in or made your way to Hartington, make your way out of town along the lane to the north. It climbs fairly steeply, a challenging start to the day, so take your time. The road heads up to to ridge line between the upper Dove and the valley of Long Dale to the east, and though it's both an alternative route and a short cut, it doesn't promise very much in the way of views. About 900 metres out of town look out for a footpath branching off half left as the road bends to the right.

    Warringtons service 441 Ashbourne - Thorpe - Ilam - Hartington
    Bowers service 442  Ashbourne - Thorpe - Hartington - Buxton
    Trent "Trans-Peak" service - connections from Buxton to Nottingham, Derby, Matlock, Bakewell, Stockport, Manchester
    First PMT service X18 - connections from Buxton to Bakewell, Sheffield, Leek, Stoke on Trent
    Stagecoach East Midland service 65 - connections from Buxton to Sheffield and Meadowhall
    First North Western train service Buxton - New Mills - Stockport - Manchester - Preston - Blackpool

Take this path, which follows a rather more level route along the western shoulder of the ridge overlooking the upper reaches of Dovedale. You cross a number of walls before bending to the left by the tiny ravine of Madge Dale just above Bank Top farm. From here you head across an expanse of open pasture dotted with trees.

Calder Low

The slopes down to the left are very steep and the scenery is excellent. You pass Ludwell Farm down to your left, and here the upslope to your right also gets rather steep; directly to your right is the 1200 ft summit of Calder Low. At the next stone wall look out for a fork in the path. Ignoring the inviting track to the left, take the lesser path going to the right. It labours uphill past a couple of wall corners and a limestone rock outcrop before reaching another wall following the shoulder of the ridge. Down to your left is the hamlet of Pilsbury, while ahead to the north is a scene of undulating hill country criss-crossed with untold numbers of stone walls. This corner of Derbyshire has one of the most complex system of enclosure walls in the country.

Follow the path northwards off the shoulder for a couple of hundred metres as far as a path crossing, at which you should turn right for a path heading eastwards to Vincent House farm.

Vincent House

The path to Vincent House heads up to a col, passing a wall corner on the way. Cross the wall at the col to find a small tarn on the other side. Now go slightly to the right and follow the path along a shallow valley. Cross a wall and continue straight on to a second wall, but here go half left. The path rises to the spur of land on the north side of the valley and then continues, in a perfectly straight line, down to Vincent House Farm.

You've reached the same road that you first took out of Hartington an hour or so back. Cross to Vincent House and find the path heading northeast up the shallow valley beyond. It's a little complicated at first. The path is shown to the south of the accompanying wall. At the col beyond the farm continue alongside the wall, which kinks slightly to the left and goes slightly downhill to yet another shallow valley. Continue alongside the wall straight ahead up to another spur, where you reach the road at Darley Farm.

Moscar Farm

From Darley Farm the path continues straight ahead, downhill again to reach the old trackbed of the defunct Derby to Buxton railway line. It's such a pity that this line was dismantled, for it would be a scenic gem and a real tourist attraction nowadays. Nowadays the route is a footpath, the High Peak Trail.

Cross the old railway line and continue straight on, uphill once more to reach Moscar Farm. and continue past the farm to reach the main A515 road at a spot height of 371 metres (a little below 1200 ft). Go northwest along the road a few paces. On the other side of a wall to the right are two footpaths, one staying along the wall to the northeast, the other crossing the pasture on the diagonal. This is the one we want. It may not be obvious on the ground so keep your eye on the map and navigate by the pattern of walls, which are plentiful here. You should be able to spot the next stile every time. Having crossed five of them in a distance of only 500 metres you reach yet another lonely motor road. Turn left onto the road, which you follow for a mile northwards to the village of Monyash.


Although there is a footpath that bypasses the last six hundred metres of the road into Monyash, it doesn't really seem worth the trouble of seeking it out. Once you arrive in the village you will need to switch to the back of the OS map so find somewhere out of the wind. Monyash has very few facilities for the visitor.

Walk northwards through the village to the north and go to the right at the road junction at the far end. Turn immediately left for a footpath heading uphill, almost due north. The path climbs steeply at first then the gradient lessens. You pass through successive pastures with a stone wall accompanying you to your right.

High Low

About a kilometre north of Monyash the path turns half right to run close to a little copse of trees to your left. Cross the stile into the next pasture. You're now on a high limestone plateau, which has the local name of High Low according to the map. In all directions there is a panorama of endless pastures and stone walls set among undulating countryside. It's lonely and magnificent up here.

Follow the path, with a stone wall now to your left, for a further kilometre out to a lonely moorland road. Cross it and take the rough road straight ahead.

Deep Dale

The rough road drops very quickly off the moorland plateau into the head of a valley. Four hundred metres beyond the road junction the path forks, a track straight ahead climbing out of the valley again, and a path to the right following the valley floor downwards. Follow this path. You're now in Deep Dale.

Scenes in Deep Dale

Deep Dale is a very pleasant limestone vale, featuring wooded slopes and an accompanying stone wall along most of its length. After two lazy meanders, first left then right, it keeps a fairly straight course to the north east.

The dale runs for about a mile before running out into an area of wooded scrubland. The map here is a confusion of detail though the path should be obvious on the ground. It curves to the right through an area of limestone outcrops then swings left to run beside a wood out to the main A6 road.

Taddington Wood

The A6 is a major trunk road and is exceptionally busy. Here it's running between Bakewell and Buxton, and it carries several bus services for those who wish to break the walk into two halves. Some services are long distance coaches that will not stop here, so check the timetables.

Taddington Wood

You're at a major confluence of limestone valleys which forms the river Wye, running off to your right, but we now follow the path into Monsal Dale, straight ahead. The lower reaches of the dale are extensively wooded, the plantations going by the collective name of Taddington Wood. This is a popular recreational area and there are likely to be many walkers and cyclists about.

Monsal Dale

Scenes in Monsal Dale

Monsal Dale is a splendid drop of scenery, a deep v-shaped valley with extensively wooded slopes and a stream at its foot. The dale sweeps gradually around to the right through a distance of about a mile.

Monsal Dale

The White Peak Way in Monsal Dale

Almost a mile into the dale, the scene changes as the valley floor widens out and the trees thin out to the left. There's a rather pretty weir here, behind which the river is wide and forms a pool.

Monsal Dale by the weir

Walk along past the pool to approach the old railway viaduct at Monsal Head.

Monsal Head

The viaduct, and a view back down the dale

The viaduct was one of the many engineering features of the second, and greater, railway line between Derby and Buxton. This was the line that ran through Matlock (still open), and Bakewell, five miles to the southeast from here. At Monsal Head the line emerged from tunnel to cross the dale and then run along its upper reaches. The dale itself swings hard to the left here to run northwest, and we've now joined a popular waymarked path, the Monsal Trail. You have two possible routes at this point: either ascend the bank to join the old railway line direct, or pass under the viaduct on the riverbank path, which turns left with the river and then climbs to the old trackbed further up.


The old trackbed and the sealed tunnel

This part of Monsal Dale above Monsal Head is known as Upperdale, and our route here follows the Monsal Trail along the old railway line. It's a pleasant stretch, through partially wooded terrain with views down to the river to the right. Upperdale Farm is seen among the woods on the far bank. The old railway line continues for about a mile beyond Monsal Head, where it approaches a sealed tunnel portal. Our route now heads down to the left.


The path descending to Cressbrook

The path reaches the river at the locality of Cressbrook, which is crammed into the narrow valley on either side of the river. Here you cross the river by a footbridge. The river bends very sharply to the left here, and the path continues on the east bank.

The river above Cressbrook

The bend to the left runs through a good 130 degrees and you end up facing southwest. This is another grand bit of scenery, with steeply wooded banks climbing high above the river. Part way round the bend Cressbrook Dale diverges to the north and from here on the main valley is known as Millers Dale.

Millers Dale

The riverbank path, Millers Dale

The bend above Cressbrook turns out to be just the first of three. The river now curves back, even more sharply, to the right and ends up facing north, but then immediately curves back to the left again, and once more you face southwest. These spectacular curves continue the theme of steep, wooded banks either side of the river. The path is excellent here and, though it is not classed as a bridleway, is quite good enough to cycle along.

After the third sharp bend there is a gentler curve to the right and the dale now settles down into a generally westward direction. Within a few hundred metres you come to Litton Mill.

Like Cressbrook, Litton Mill is a tiny hive of activity crammed into the narrow valley. Use the footbridge here to cross to the south side of the river. A little way above you the old railway emerges from the other end of the tunnel, which of course has cut out all the meanders and is only a kilometre long. Our route continues to follow the Monsal Trail as it leaves the river and climbs back up to the old railbed.

The old railway line in Millers Dale

The last mile of today's walk lays along the old trackbed, which manages to run a fairly straight course just to the south of the river. The slopes to either side become less severe. Tideswell Dale runs off to the north and somewhere around here you will need to switch back to the west sheet of the OS map. Half a mile further on you leave the Monsal Trail for a path off to the right, down to the river bank opposite Millers Dale village. Cross the bridge here to find a bus stop, almost opposite the church, from which you can get buses to Buxton, Sheffield or Chesterfield. Alternatively, Ravenstor youth hostel is about three quarters of a mile along the road to the right.

    Stagecoach East Midland service 65, Sheffield - Tideswell - Millers Dale - Buxton
    Stagecoach East Midland service 66, Chesterfield - Tideswell - Millers Dale - Buxton
    Ravenstor Youth Hostel

  Derbyshire County Council's Peak District website

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This page last updated 8th January 2005