The Peak District, while unsurprisingly revered for its hills, also holds its own when it comes to deep gorges and stunning forests. This walks takes us through a unique and captivating area in the Peaks just east of Buxton.
Back in the 1860s, the engineering might of the Victorians faced the challenge of the steep cliffs and plunging gorges surrounding the River Wye in Derbyshire. The result, Midland Railway’s mainline between Manchester and London, incurred the wrath of Victorian critic and conservationist John Ruskin. What was once seen as industry encroaching upon the limestone heartland is now known as the Monsal Trail, a walkway along clifftops, through viaducts and imposing tunnels, and into deep gorges.
This walk starts at Miller’s Dale old station car park and follows the multi-use Monsal Trail through Chee Tor Tunnel.
While the first two miles heading away from the car park will reveal old girder bridges, long tunnels and the odd view down into the canyon of the Wye, the two-mile return journey will see you walk into a fairytale landscape that somehow remains unknown to the masses.
In the summer, Chee Dale is full of colour and fragrances. It really is some of the most remarkable landscape I know of. As you advance downstream, keeping tightly to the bank, you’ll cross stepping stones and the odd footbridge.
It’s worth mentioning that if the first set of stepping stones is even remotely under water, don’t continue – the next section of your walk will be completely impassable. Don’t attempt it. The rest of your path home follows a section of extraordinary tranquility. Limestone cliffs rise above you, the Monsal Trail marking their edges like a travelator in the sky. You’ll cling to the water’s edge here, climbing over rocks, the odd fallen tree, and navigating around shallow pools and streams before climbing back up to the Monsal Trail and returning to Miller’s Dale car park where you started.
The Peak District isn’t all about hills; a view doesn’t have to be in the distance for it to be breathtaking.
You can follow the route I took on ViewRanger.