Monsal Dale and Millers Dale Walk

An 8 mile Peak District walk starting from Monsal Head.

Start: SK 18484 71566 – DE45 1NL
Map: Landranger 119, Explorer OL24
Difficulty: 10
Refreshments : Monsal Head and Cressbrook Mill

This Peak District walk may be of interest to the historian as the dales of the Wye have changed much over the years not least the restoration of the mills at Cressbrook and Litton.

Headstone Viaduct spans the River Wye at Monsal Head, it caused controversy when first built by the Midland Railway Company in 1863. The Victorian poet and environmentalist John Ruskin wrote “The valley is gone, and the Gods with it; and now, every fool in Buxton can be in Bakewell in half an hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton”. By 1970 when the railway closed people’s opinions had changed. Talk of demolishing the viaduct began shortly after closure but after considerable opposition it is now subject to a preservation order. Headstone Viaduct is over 300 ft long, stands 78ft above the valley of the River Wye and is part of the Monsal Trail.

The Monsal Trail runs along the old line of the Midland Railway from Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale a little over 8 miles to Coombs Road in Bakewell. The route is free of traffic and now includes four railway tunnels recently opened including Headstone Tunnel seen at the start of this Peak District Walk.

Cressbrook Mill originally a cotton mill built for Sir Richard Arkwright opened in 1783, manufacturing carried on until 1965 when the mill closed. Once again the mill after restoration and conversion to luxury apartments has become part of the local community.

For me Water cum Jolly is one of the highlights of this walk, it is a beautiful dale with a narrow path that skirts around the River Wye. Limestone crags popular with rock climbers hem in the dale, during the winter it often floods but there is a pleasant alternative route through Cressbrook over fields to Litton.

Litton 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. The original mill was rebuilt after a fire, it had numerous owners over the years and is now converted to luxury apartments some available to rent as holiday apartments.

Monsal Dale and Millers Dale Photo Gallery

Monsal Dale and Millers Dale Walk Directions

The walk starts at Monsal Head overlooking the impressive railway viaduct. Take the path from Monsal Head down to and across the viaduct. Follow the track of the old railway for just under a mile, a path then descends down to the Wye which is crossed by a footbridge into Cressbrook. Turn left immediately after the footbridge along a concessionary path through Water cum Jolly to Litton Mill. (If the dale is flooded an alternative route is available through Cressbrook).

Follow the path through the newly restored Litton Mill, passing Tideswell Dale and Ravenstor.  Cross the Wye by a footbridge and climb to the top of Priestcliffe Lees, passing over the old railway line along the way.

Head for the farmhouse high on the hill above. Go around the farm house over the stile and down the lane. Follow this lane for 1/2 mile, turning left down a walled track and then left over a stone stile across fields to High Dale.  Go through High Dale to a road, turn left and follow the road uphill to Brushfield.

Follow the wide track through Brushfield, the busy A6 can be heard through the trees below. The path carries on across farmland, turn right over a wall and follow the signs to Brushfield Hough. Go through the farmyard and bear right following the way marked path through trees down to Monsal Dale. On reaching the river turn left and follow it to a footbridge, cross the footbridge and follow the path on the other side. Shortly after the weir the path climbs steeply back to Monsal Head

Copyright © Peter Cox. All rights reserved