DISTANCE: 5 miles (8km) of field and river path walking linked by a mile of walled farm track. Reasonably dry underfoot except during lengthy wet spells.
RECOMMENDED MAP: Ordnance Survey1:25,000 scale Outdoor Leisure Series Sheet 24, White Peak area.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: TM Travel service 65 between Sheffield, Miller’s Dale and Buxton, hourly service, Monday to Sunday. G&J Holmes/Hulley’s Buxton/ Miller’s Dale service 66. Monday to Sunday.
CAR PARKING: Station yard – pay and display. Toilets on station platform.
REFRESHMENTS: Station waiting room on platform.
This walk starts and finishes at the Monsal Trail car park on the site of the old Miller’s Dale Station. Considering the fact that it appears at first glance to be only serving a scattered rural community, what was the need for such a large station? The answer lies in the fact that it served two railways, the mainline from London St Pancras to Manchester and the Buxton branch line. Both lines were closed in 1968 following Doctor Beeching’s notorious report. Realising that the mainline passed through some of the finest dale-scenery in Derbyshire, Peak District National Park acquired the section of track between Bakewell and Wyedale, creating the popular Monsal Trail, an all weathers trail for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. A café was opened in what was once the station waiting room, which together with the adjacent car park, made it an ideal starting point for walks along the trail and on the network of surrounding footpaths.
I must have inadvertently travelled on one of the last trains to call at Miller’s Dale Station in 1968. I had an appointment in Leicester on what turned out to be a densely foggy day, so as I lived at the time, conveniently near the Buxton/Manchester line, I decided to travel by train. Returning later in the day, I got off the London/Manchester train in order to connect with Buxton. As I stood on the platform I became conscious of an elderly couple being helped down from the First Class coach of the London train, along with their wicker suit cases. Waiting for them was a chauffeur complete with old-fashioned leather gaiters and carrying a plaid rug for their comfort. Who the couple were I never discovered, but for a moment I was convinced I had walked into the set of a 1920s film.
This walk starts and finishes at Miller’s Dale Station (pay and display). Dropping down from the Monsal Trail, it follows the road for a quarter of a mile before climbing the hillside in order to join a section of the Limestone Way. This track runs in a northerly direction to join a minor side road where a left turn drops down to and then across the upper reaches of Monk’s Dale. When this road starts to climb it is abandoned by turning left through a narrow stone stile. This is the start of the only significant climb on the walk; it follows a field path up and across a series of ancient fields leading to the farmstead village of Wormhill. Turning left on to the road through the village the route passes the well dedicated to the canal builder James Brindley who was born nearby. Leaving the road beyond the village, a path on the right is joined and followed downhill, going under the Monsal Trail to reach the River Wye. A footpath along the left bank of the river leads to the road bridge connecting the riverside hamlet of Miller’s Dale to Wormhill. Here the planned walk follows either the road or a path climbing back to the station car park.
1. Leave the station car park and turn right to walk down the side road.
2. At the bottom turn left and follow the main road, going beneath the twin viaducts which once carried powerful Midland Railway steam trains from London St Pancras to Manchester.
3. About 50 yards beyond a corrugated iron cottage, turn left up the rough side road for about 150 yards (135m).
4. Go to the left on reaching a stony track passing behind a group of farm buildings. Join the access lane to Monksdale Farm where there was a small chapel in the 14th century – hence the name Monk’s Dale.
5. Go through a gate on the right of the farmhouse and out on to a rough farm lane. Follow it towards the upland pastures.
6. Follow the now grassy walled lane up a steep hill at first and then across the gentle open hill top. Continue along this track for about a mile, enjoying the views beyond Monk’s Dale. The dale is a nature reserve famous for its rare wild flowers.
7. Reaching a surfaced road, turn left and go downhill.
8. Continue with the road, across Monk’s Dale for about 20 yards (18m) and turn left through a narrow stone stile about 100yards (92m) uphill.
9. Climb the grassy path through a series of narrow fields until it joins a narrow, walled track. Take a breather now and then to enjoy the views of the eastern White Peak beyond Monk’s Dale.
10. Where the track forks, take the left, continuing left into the farmstead village of Wormhill.
11. Follow the village road, past James Brindley’s memorial well, going to the left, downhill for about 200yds (180m) away from the village.
12. At the bottom of the dip in the road where it bears left, turn right at the footpath signpost and go past a stone cottage, moving downhill through the rocky dell.
13. Walk down the steep scrub-covered hillside as far as the river. Do not cross the footbridge, but turn left and follow the riverside path, downstream, going under the huge railway bridge along the way.
14. Reaching the road, turn left beside the bridge and follow the way marked path up to Miller’s Dale station. There is a good view of the twin viaducts from this point.