This is a long walk, and whilst the terrain isn’t difficult, the walk requires a full day’s attention and shouldn’t be underestimated. There are a few options to shorten it, but it will likely be at least 13 miles if you aren’t planning on using public transport to return to Bakewell.
It was a bank holiday Monday when we tackled this route, so rain was guaranteed, and duly came, lasting without let-up for the whole day. The walk leaves Bakewell by a path running behind Bakewell Junior School. To find it, walk along Butts road past the medical centre, and when you reach the bollards at the top turn left (not into the cemetery) along Burton Edge, and at the end of the road head straight on. The path dips down to a miniature stream, which can get quite boggy on or just after bank holidays (i.e. when it has rained). The path then slopes right uphill before crossing a couple more fields to reach a road, which links Bakewell and Youlgreave. Follow it south for 500 metres before turning right onto a path that keeps parallel with the road for a while before re-joining it just before Conksbury Bridge.
Head down the steep hill toward the bridge, but just before it take a good path along the river Lathkill. We followed the river all the way to Monyash, and it provides an interesting lesson in the life of a river (but in reverse), as by Monyash the river has dried up, and the Lathkill has become a dry valley. As long as you keep going straight and don’t turn off uphill on either side of the valley, then you’ll have no navigational issues all the way to Monyash. The Lathkill provides plenty of interest along the way, from signs of the old village near Conksbury, to limestone caves half a mile from Monyash.
The path brings you out at some public toilets, just under half a mile from Monyash. Simply turn left along the road and follow it if you want to reach the village, where the Bulls Head provides food, and a bus can take you back to Bakewell if you don’t want to do more than the 6 miles to Monyash. Instead of going into the village, we took the path opposite the toilets along Bagshaw Dale, and then crossed Horse lane to take another signed footpath uphill, heading due north. Just after passing some farm buildings the path bears right, and isn’t clear on the ground, but it is signposted at each wall stile, and soon the path joins a miniature lane after an information board before reaching a minor road, left taking you toward Chelmorton, right eventually leading to Bakewell. The rise from Monyash isn’t steep, but height is nevertheless gained, making this the most elevated part of the walk, resulting in extensive views across the Peak District in all direction.
Across the road, our way takes us along an unmetalled road that heads towards Deep Dale. After a few hundred metres take a path on the right that heads into the dale. The gentle incline slopes gently towards the A6 and the river Wye, but make sure you head left near the bottom to reach the A6 through a car park. Directly opposite the car park a good path runs along the River Wye, heading upstream in the direction of Monsal Head. Keep to the left bank, taking in views of the falls, and after about a mile, the valley opens up and reveals the famous viaduct. Ascend to it for great views back down the valley in the direction you have just come. The old railway tunnels on the Monsal Trail were opened last year, getting rid of the need for a detour. If it is raining, the tunnels provide adequate shelter, but for those willing to make the steep climb up to Monsal Head, the café there provides food, as well as a homelier atmosphere and comfier seating than the tunnel. A bus can be taken back to Bakewell from here, reducing the walk’s total mileage to 11 miles.
To return to Bakewell on foot, turn right onto the viaduct and follow the Monsal Trail through the tunnel back to Bakewell. The trail goes all the way to Bakewell, but if you want a change of scenery, turn right onto a bridleway signposted to Lumford just before reaching Hassop roundabout. This path reaches the A6 less than half a mile from Bakewell town centre. Both this route and the regular route along the Monsal trail make the route 14 miles. For those who are a fan of the old railway line, you can follow the trail to its end and return along Combs road, extending the walk to 16 miles.
This walk was brought to you by Stanley Webster.