Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley) walk

A very scenic White Peak dale: tight gorges, limestone crags, steeping stones, cascades, mills. Elevated pastures back to Buxton. Or on to Monsal Head with its famous vistas

First set of Stepping Stones. Chee Dale SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley)

First set of Stepping Stones. Chee Dale

SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley)

25-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Headstone Viaduct and Monsal Dale from Monsal Head Viewpoint SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley) [Alternative Ending at Monsal Dale]

Headstone Viaduct and Monsal Dale from Monsal Head Viewpoint

SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley) [Alternative Ending at Monsal Dale]

27-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Backview to Monsal Trail, from elevated route along Water-cum-Jolly Dale SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley) [Alternative Ending at Monsal Dale - Elevated Route]

Backview to Monsal Trail, from elevated route along Water-cum-Jolly Dale

SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley) [Alternative Ending at Monsal Dale - Elevated Route]

27-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Miller's Dale Viaducts, from road below SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley)

Miller's Dale Viaducts, from road below

SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley)

25-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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View up the Wye Valley, after rising out of Chee Dale SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley)

View up the Wye Valley, after rising out of Chee Dale

SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley)

25-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Priestcliffe Low, along Senners Lane SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley)

Priestcliffe Low, along Senners Lane

SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley)

25-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Five Wells Chambered Tomb (detail) SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley)

Five Wells Chambered Tomb (detail)

SWC 385 - Buxton Circular or to Monsal Dale (via the Wye Valley)

25-Aug-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Length

26.0 km (16.1 mi), with 719m ascent/descent. For a shorter or longer walk see below Walk Options.

Toughness

8 out of 10, with 7 ÂĽ hours walking time.

Walk Notes

Explore the most beautiful stretch of one of the most famous dales of the White Peak from historical Buxton.
You leave town along its northerly fringes to proceed through pastures under Fairfield Low to the scenic dry valley of Woo Dale. At its junction with the Wye Valley, which will change name several times along the route, rise steeply onto the rim of Wye Dale and follow it to the junction with Great Rocks Dale, where the famous Chee Dale starts, featuring tight gorges, overhanging limestone rockfaces, submerged paths conquered via stepping stones and powerful springs surging out of the rocky ground, with the imposing viaducts of a dismantled railway line criss-crossing the route. Then go on to Miller’s Dale for a riverside lunch.
The return route starts along the dismantled railway line past some old limekilns and an abseiling bridge, back to Chee Dale, before rising steeply out of the dale onto some high pastures with views. You pass Britain’s highest chambered tomb and its highest church spire, go through the fascinating Deep Dale (named for a reason) with its cave and pass some quiet villages to enter Buxton past two of its own railway viaducts.

An Alternative Ending follows the Wye Valley further past the former Litton and Cressbrook Mills, notorious for their working conditions at the time, and through a nature reserve up to Monsal Head for tea, with its renowned views down to a wide bend in the valley and to a very pretty viaduct. A quiet stretch through Monsal Dale to a bus stop on the A6 rounds off the route. A tougher version of that alternative ending follows an exposed path high up on the other side of the valley.

Walk Options

Some of the paths – and also the stepping stones – along the Wye are prone to being under water after heavy rain. The Monsal Trail, running though the Wye Valley along a dismantled railway line, affords escapes to a higher level in several spots. These are obvious on the route map and highlighted in the directions.

Shortcuts
· Bus Lines 190 and 199 (Buxton - Whaley Bridge and Buxton - Manchester Airport, with at least 2 buses per hour between them Mon-Sat and one on Sundays) stop at Fairfield, Church and enable cutting out the urban bits at the start (cut 1.5 km). Continue in the direction of travel past the drive to St. Peter church and pick up the directions at the asterisk *) on page 5.
· Bus Line 65 (Buxton - Tideswell – Sheffield Interchange, with at least 5 buses per day) stops at King Sterndale, Topley Pike and enables astart at Blackwell Mill Cottages, near the westerly end of the Monsal Trail. The mill site is 7.5 km into the route, but the bus stop is 1.2 km away from the route, with a straightforward link route though. See the end of the main walk text for details.
· In Chee Dale, link to the return route without going to Miller’s Dale first. Cuts 3.0 km.
· Bus Line 65 (see above)also stops in Miller’s Dale, just by the lunch pub (11.8 km into the walk).
· Bus Lines 65 (see above) and Transpeak 3 (Matlock – Buxton, hourly every day) stop at Blackwell Turn (15.3 km into the walk).
· Cut out the out-and-back to the Five Wells Chambered Tomb, cuts 600m.
· Bus Line Transpeak 3 (hourly every day) stops at Taddington, Waterloo PH, on the long versions of the walk, and at Chelmorton, Old Coalpit Lane, 200m off route, 18.9 km into the main walk.
See the route map for the locations of the bus stops.

Extensions/Alternative Endings
Modest Extensions replace the post-lunch return to Chee Dale and subsequent rise onto the pastures, with either a rise out of Wye Dale straight from the lunch pub past Millers Dale Nature Reserve or by first going further down Wye Dale and rising out of it through Priestcliffe Lees Nature Reserve. Both extensions then pass through Priestcliffe and along the Limestone Way onto Sough Top.
An Alternative Ending in Monsal Dale, at a bus stop on the A6 (last departure 19.34 Mon-Fri, 19.09 Sat and 20.55 Sun, as of 08/2021), follows the very scenic Wye Valley to Monsal Head, where a steep ascent leads to a couple of tea stops and the famed view across the bend of the dale. The final stretch leads back to the river and through the widening dale. Distance: 20.2 km/12.6 mi with 536/668m ascent/descent, 6/10 rating.
A Variation of the middle part of the Alternative Ending leads from Litton Mill onto the Monsal Trail for a short stretch to then circumvent the Litton and Cressbrook Tunnels by following an elevated and at times precipitous routewith fantastic views along Miller’s Dale and Water-cum-Jolly Dale. The route then re-joins the Monsal Trail through Upperdale to Monsal Head. This adds about 200m ascent, but no distance.

Maps

OS Explorer: OL24 (The Peak District – White Peak Area)
OS Landranger: 119 (Buxton & Matlock)
Harvey Superwalker XT25: Peak District Central
Harvey British Mountain Map: Dark Peak or White Peak

Travel

Buxton Station, map reference SK 059 737, is 22km southeast of Manchester, 299m above sea level. Monsal Dale, White Lodge Car Park Bus Stop, map reference SK 168 707, is 221 km northwest of London, 167m above sea level. Both are in Derbyshire. Buxton Station is the terminus of the Buxton Line from Manchester, with two trains per hour Mon-Sat daytime and one per hour else. Journey time is 60 mins from Manchester and ca. three hours from London (chg. at Stockport). A faster connection can be obtained by taking a train to Macclesfield and bus 58 to Buxton. Monsal Dale, White Lodge Car Park Bus Stop is served by Transpeak 3 (Matlock – Buxton, hourly every day).

Saturday Walkers’ Club: The walk is doable as a daywalk from London with a train no later than 08.20 hours.

Elenvenses

Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire and Tuck Shop 8 Blackwell Mill Cottages, Bakewell Road, Buxton SK17 9TE (01298 708 38). The Tuck Shop is located 60m off route, 7.5 km (4.7 mi) into the walk.

Lunch

Angler’s Rest Miller’s Dale, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 8SN (01298 871 323). The Angler’s Rest is located 11.8 km (7.3 mi) into the walk.
The Refreshment Room Millers Dale Station, Wormhill Road, Millers Dale, Buxton, Derbyshire,SK17 8SN (01298 871 869). The Refreshment Room is located 12.3 km (7.6 mi) into the walk.

Tea

Beech Croft Farm Caravan & Camp Site Blackwell, Taddington, Derbyshire,SK17 9TQ (01298 853 30). Beech Croft Farm is located 70m off route, 15.0 km (9.3 mi) into the walk. Their Store in the reception building is selling hot and cold drinks and some cold food, and has outdoor seating (some covered). It is open all day every day, and happy to sell to non-residents. The next-door Daisies Coffee Shop has opened in 08/2021. Check the website for the latest on their opening hours and offerings.
The Waterloo Hotel A6, Taddington, Derbyshire,SK17 9TJ (01298 852 30). The Waterloo is located 14.6 km (9.1 mi) and 15.7 km (9.8 mi) respectively into the long versions of the walk. It used to be tied to Robinson’s but is a Free House as of 05/21.
The Church Inn Chelmorton, Buxton, Derbyshire,SK17 9SL (01298 853 19). The Church Inn is located 17.9 km (11.1 mi) into the walk.
Numerous options in Buxton; some of the ones on the route are mentioned in the pdf.

Tea Monsal Dale Ending - located 2.8 km from the end of the Alternative Ending
Hobb’s Café Tearoom Monsal Head, Derbyshire, DE 45 1NL (01629 640 346).
Monsal Head Hotel and Stable Bar Monsal Head, Derbyshire, DE 45 1NL (01629 640 250).

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Version

Nov-21 Thomas G

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This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk