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Dales Trails

Walking by the River Wye with Monsal Head Viaduct in the background/photo by Arnold Underwood,18th May 2008

Early Purple Orchids in Deepdale/ from a photo by Arnold Underwood, May 2008

PEAK DISTRICT - BAKEWELL – 16.0km (10 miles)

The Wye and the Wherefore

A walk which for much of its length is in the company of Derbyshire’s River Wye, taking you to Monsal Head with its disused railway viaduct, now crossed by the Monsal Trail
Time this walk for early June and it will coincide with the traditional Well Dressings in the picturesque village of Ashford-in-the-Water

Fact File

Distance 16.0km (10miles).
Terrain Woodland and field paths & bridleways
Time 4½ hours (longer if visiting the Well Dressings in Ashford)
Stiles 8
Grading **** Quite strenuous
Suitable for All, but care needed crossing and walking by the busy A6 road
Start/Parking Bakewell riverside car park (pay & display) Grid Ref: SK 220 686
Nearest Town Bakewell
Refreshments Pub & cafe at Monsal Head and at Ashford-in-the-Water. Lots of choice in Bakewell
Toilets Bakewell and Deep Dale A6 carpark
Public Transport Sheffield/Chesterfield – Buxton/Manchester (Mainline/TM Travel), Trent/Barton: TransPeak Service Nottingham – Manchester: Local services from Chesterfield, Matlock, and villages by Hulleys and other operators. National Express 440 London - Manchester
Map OS Explorer OL24 Peak District - White Peak Area

Route created using TrackLogs Digital Mapping

Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

  1. (Start) Leave the car park and cross the main road. By the bridge, go through a gate to enter riverside meadows and follow a path across the meadow with river on your left. After a narrow walkway between river and wall swing left across the meadow and then fork right to a small gate in the wall. Turn left and walk along the pavement until you see a narrow stone bridge across the river on your left. Cross this bridge to the main A6 road. Turn right to walk along the footpath of this busy road for about ½ mile

  2. (1.6km/1 mile) At a footpath sign go into the field and head diagonally across fields towards houses. Cross a stile and walk between the buildings continuing forward to another stile and back into fields. Maintain direction along top of bank with river down to the right. Gradually descend across pasture towards Ashford in the Water. Cut left to leave the field at a stile to rejoin the roadside pavement. Turn towards Ashford-in-the-Water to cross the river by the old road bridge, now closed to traffic. At a road junction near the cricket pitch cross over the new road (A6024) with care and bear left along the pavement into Ashford. Well Dressings take place here on the weekend of Trinity Sunday each year (7th June in 2009)

  3. (3.2km/2 miles) Walk through the village passing the Church. Take a look at Sheepwash Bridge on the left, before continuing to follow the road round and up to a junction at a green. Head straight on to find a footpath through the wall on the left. This path climbs quite steeply up and round out of the village to eventually meet an enclosed ‘green lane’. Turn left to follow this lane for some way then turning left. Now it’s a long steady climb over high pastures where you will likely encounter, sheep and cattle – including bulls! At the top you are high above Monsal Dale but the view into the valley is obscured by bushes and trees. A narrow path takes you along the contours atop the steep sided valley and up to Monsal Head with its pub, café and ice cream van.

  4. (6.4km/4 miles) Suitably refreshed, head down the narrow path the zig-zags down to join the Monsal Trail across the old railway viaduct. Walk across the viaduct and then bear right down the embankment to swing back round under the viaduct. Now you have an easy stroll alongside the River Wye for about a mile as far as the A6 road.Cross the road into a car park where you will find toilets and picnic tables.

  5. (9.2km/5¾ miles) From the car park follow the footpath up the hillside below the trees towards Deep Dale. Maintain direction across the open hillside keeping a look out for Early Purple Orchids in early summer. Keeping left, the path enters woodland and follows a stream upwards emerging at a wall stile by an information board. Continue across open ground with woods on your left until the path abruptly turns right up the hillside. Take care at the top to go left and in about 50m you enter Great Shacklow Wood. The path keeps to the contour along the wooded flanks of the valley. In spring these woods are carpeted with bluebells and wild garlic. In about 0.5km the path begins to lose height eventually emerging from the trees close to the River Wye. After keeping company with the river for a further 0.5km the path meets the Sheldon road near its junction with the A6. Walk down to the A6 and continue alongside this busy road for about 200m, crossing when safe to do so and then turning to enter Ashford-in-the-Water over the traffic-free Sheepwash Bridge.

  6. (12.8km/8 miles) Now it is just a simple matter of retracing our outward steps to Bakewell. Head back through the village, perhaps taking the opportunity to visit Holy Trinity Church. Cross the main road by the cricket pitch and walk down the closed-off road over the river bridge to the A6. Rejoin the field path on the left to walk back through the meadows until forced to regain the roadside pavement on the outskirts of Bakewell. Return to the car park by way of the packhorse bridge and the riverside meadows. (Finish 16km/10 miles)

    Sheepwash Bridge and the River Wye/photo by Arnold Underwood,May 2005

    Along the Way

    When in Bakewell you must of course try the world famous Bakewell Tart...or is it Pudding? The famous Bakewell pudding was also invented accidentally at the Rutland Arms Hotel, when a cook misinterpreted instructions and poured egg mixture over the jam instead of mixing it in the pastry and what should have been a tart was now a pudding. Bakewell puddings can be bought at several shops in the town centre
    On Trinity Sunday, Ashford celebrates the founding of the church. Following the service, there is a procession to bless the six wells that are dressed annually.
    It was at Sheepwash Well that well dressing was revived in 1930, but it petered out again and it was not until over twenty years later that it became firmly established.
    The beautiful low arched medieval Sheepwash Bridge, overhung by willow trees, was built on the site of the ford across the river. In the 17th century it was crossed each week by hundreds of pack horses usually carrying malt from Derby. It takes its name from the attached sheep pen from where sheep were driven into the river to be washed prior to shearing.

    Arnold Underwood (May 2008)

This page was created by
Arnold Underwood

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