Walk this way - Monsal Dale

Monsal Dale.
Monsal Dale.
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The Valley of the Gods

TIME: 3½ HOURS

DISTANCE: 5½ MILES

TERRAIN: STEADY

ABILITY: MEDIUM

PARKING: YES

TERRAIN: Well-defined paths and tracks throughout, but lots of stiles

PARKING: Ashford-in-the-Water car park

HOW TO GET THERE: Map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 24 White Peak. Meet at SK 194696

WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK: The Monsal Head Hotel serves a wide variety of bar meals. So does the popular Bulls Head in Ashford, a Robinsons House.

1: From the car park turn right up Court Lane, then right again along Vicarage Lane. A footpath on the left, signposted ‘To Monsal Dale’, doubles back left, then swings sharp right to continue along a ginnel behind a row of houses. Beyond a stile the path enters a field.

2: Head for a stile in the top left corner, then veer slightly right to locate a stile allowing the route on to Pennyunk Lane. This walled stony track winds among high pastures. At its end a footpath signpost directs you left along a field edge. In 400yds (366m) it joins another track, heading north towards the rim of Monsal Dale. The path runs along the top edge of the deep wooded dale to reach the car park at Monsal Head.

3: Take the path marked Monsal Trail here – this way you get to walk across the viaduct. On the other side go through a gate on the left. Ignore the path climbing west up the hillside, but descend south west on a grassy path raking through scrub woods down into the valley. This shouldn’t be confused with the steep eroded path plummeting straight down to the foot of the viaduct.

4: Now you walk down the pleasant valley. The right of way is well away from the river at first but most walkers trace the riverbank to emerge at Lees Bottom and a stile.

5: Cross the A6 with care and go through the white Lodge car park on the other side to a stile, where the path back to Ashford begins. The paths are numbered here – this route uses number three. Beyond another stile there’s a path junction. Take the left fork, which veers left across rough fields. Ignore the next path into Deepdale and swing left (south) into Great Shacklowwood.

6: The path now climbs through the trees and stony ground to another sign. Turn left here, following the path signposted to Ashford and Sheldon. 200yds (183m) later the Sheldon path climbs right, but go straight ahead along the steep wooded slopes. Eventually the path comes down to the river, before joining a minor road at the bottom of Kirkdale.

7: Turn left down to the A6 and right towards Ashford. Leave the road to cross Sheepwash Bridge. Turn right along Church Street, then left along Court Lane to the car park.