Ashford in the Water and Monsal Dale Walk

A 6 mile Peak District walk starting from Monsal Head.

Start: SK 18484 71566 – DE45 1NL
Map: Landranger 119, Explorer OL24
Difficulty: 6
Refreshments : Monsal Head and Ashford in the Water

This Peak District walk starts at Monsal Head and descends down to the River Wye passing under the arches of the Headstone Viaduct and along Monsal Dale to the busy A6. After crossing the road the walk continues through Deep Dale and on through Great Shacklow Wood to Ashford in the Water. We return to Monsal Head via the unusually named Pennyunk Lane, skirting the lower slopes of Fin Cop and into Fin Wood before arriving back at the start of the walk.

Many people know the viaduct here as Monsal Head or Monsal Dale viaduct but the correct name is Headstone Viaduct. The viaduct, built in 1863 is 300ft long and 78ft high. The Midland railway Company built it to carry the Derby to Manchester line across the River Wye.

Headstone Viaduct and the weir in Monsal Dale featured in an episode of the cult BBC series Survivors. The series filmed in the 1970’s used locations in Monsal Dale and Upperdale for the episode Mad Dog. On the left overlooking Monsal Dale is a Bronze Age hill fort 1025ft up on the top of Fin Cop. The dale is famous for its wild flowers including wild orchids. As the path nears the River Wye look out for dippers and Kingfishers. A little further along we come across an old waterwheel buried in the ground, evidence of an old watermill that once stood on this site but little else remains.

Ashford in the Water is an attractive village situated on the banks of the River Wye. The much-photographed Sheepwash Bridge an old packhorse bridge crosses the Wye here. The bridge has three shallow arches, the sidewalls on one side curve around to form a pen with an opening towards the river for sheep dipping. The octagonal shelter across the bridge, erected in 1881, covers the old well known locally as the Bottom Pump. The well still exists under the structure but the pump mechanism is no longer present.

Ashford in the Water and Monsal Dale Photo Gallery

Ashford in the Water and Monsal Dale Walk Directions

From Monsal Head follow the path sign posted Monsal Dale, this leads down to a footbridge over the River Wye.  Turn left here and under the arches of the viaduct.  Follow the river through Monsal Dale passing the impressive weir eventually reaching the busy A6 Bakewell to Buxton road.

Cross the road and into a car park, a path on the right leads off through a stile towards Deep Dale. Just before the dale narrows turn left over a stile and up the hill to a junction of paths. Turn left following the sign “Ashford & Sheldon” This path now leads through Great Shacklow Wood and descends passing a fishery down on the left to a disused mill beside the river.

Continue along the path beside the river until reaching a minor road.  Turn left along the road and on reaching the A6 turn right. Cross the road opposite Sheepwash Bridge and into Ashford in the Water.

Bear left along Fennel Street and right into Vicarage Lane, here turn left and follow the steps up adjacent to some houses to a stile. Cross over the field to a stile and turn left along a walled track. This is Pennyunk Lane, follow the walled lane all the way to the end. Here at an open field turn left through a stile and up the hill to another stile.  Turn right and through a gate onto another walled track, follow this track high above Monsal Dale back to Monsal Head.

Copyright © Peter Cox. All rights reserved