Five Dales from Monsal Head Walk

A 9 mile Peak District walk starting from Monsal Head.

Start: SK 18484 71566 – DE45 1NL
Map: Landranger 119, Explorer OL24
Difficulty: 15
Refreshments : Monsal Head, Cressbrook, Tideswell and Litton.

This Peak District walk starts at Monsal Head and crosses the River Wye over the Headstone Viaduct part of the Monsal Trail. The Monsal Trail runs from Chee Dale to Bakewell. The route is free of traffic and now includes four railway tunnels recently opened including Headstone Tunnel seen at the start of this walk.

Cressbrook Mill originally a cotton mill built for Sir Richard Arkwright is now a residential apartment complex.

Water-cum-Jolly Dale is a beautiful dale with a narrow path that skirts around the river. Hemmed in by limestone crags the dale often floods, so although this walk visits the dale it takes a route through Cressbrook high above Millers Dale. The footpath provides views down into the Millers Dale and north towards Buxton and the Dark Peak beyond.

Litton Mill is a small village in Millers Dale it grew up around the infamous Litton Mill, a large cotton-spinning mill notorious for the poor treatment of its young apprentices.

Tideswell Dale part of which was a former basalt quarry is a Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve, noted for it’s various grassland flowers and native woodland. It is a dale of contrast, first narrow and wooded in a limestone gorge, opening out as it nears the road into Tideswell.

Tideswell is a large attractive village the main street with its shops and café’s is an ideal place to break for lunch. The church of St John the Baptist in Tideswell is an impressive church widely known as the Cathedral of the Peak.

Tansley Dale is a short dale known for its wildflowers including orchids.

Cressbrook Dale part of the Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve is a beautiful steep-sided dale renown for its spectacular limestone scenery and wild spring flowers. It covers and area of 126 hectares including ash woodland and dense scrub. The dale can be dry in summer but in winter a stream flows along the full length of the dale. During the 18th Century watercress was cultivated here hence the name Cressbrook.

Five Dales from Monsal Head Photo Gallery

Five Dales from Monsal Head Walk Directions

Monsal Head with it’s viaduct is the start point for this walk. Taking in five dales, in order – Water-cum Jolly, Millers, Tideswell, Tansley and Cressbrook, crossing Monsal Dale via the viaduct.

From Monsal Head descend to the viaduct and along the old railway track to Water-cum-Jolly. Here cross the river over the footbridge.

As the water levels can be high here the walk takes a high level route through Cressbrook. If you prefer to take the riverside path then continue through Water-cum-Jolly Dale passed Litton Mill to Millers Dale.

If the water level is high then turn right into Cressbrook then left up Bottomhill Road passed Cressbrook Hall and St John’s Church then left down a track signposted Litton Mill and Millers Dale.

On reaching Litton Mill turn right through Millers Dale and right again along the way marked path through Tideswell Dale. Turn right along the main road into Tideswell. Turn right just after Tideswell church, sign posted Litton. On the edge of Litton village a path leads over fields and descends down into Tansley Dale.

Turn right along Cressbrook Dale crossing over the stepping stones and up onto the ridge. The path then drops down and crosses the stream near Ravensdale Cottages and back down through Cressbrook and past the recently restored mill.  The River Wye is crossed by a wide bridge returning along the Monsal Trail and back to Monsal Head.

Copyright © Peter Cox. All rights reserved