Approximate Time: 2.5 to 3 hours
This is a very straightforward and fairly short walk through one of the Peak Districts most beautiful dales, and is suitable for walkers of all age groups as it has little climbing. Lathkill Dale is the Peak Districts most central dale, with a huge variety of wildlife and geological features. The walk begins at a small car park just outside the village of Monyash, on the right hand side of the B5055 heading towards Bakewell. There are some public toilets there as well.
The path starts directly from the car park, and starts out being very wide and open as it approaches the start of the dale. At this point we took Jimmy out of the way of some cows, in order to avoid a confrontation with our rather feisty bovine friends. After going through a few gates, passing the occasional limestone outcrop, the path narrowed, and was now surrounded by cow parsley, Jacob’s Ladder if you look carefully, and other flowers. White throated dippers also have a noticeable existence in the dale.
The path continues forward, being very easy to follow, especially as the dale widens. Somewhere near here the River Lathkill starts its course, and then a bridge appears to the right. This marks a path that connects to the Limestone Way, which is another point at which to join the dale. Further down, the path transforms into a flatter and smoother path, reminiscent of the Monsal Trail. The path continues in this manner for about 1.25 miles, passing the odd cave every now and then. There are informative posters that include information about wildlife and flowers, which also have Bluetooth compatibility, and can be used for downloading more information.
The next sign of civilization comes in the form of the village of Over Haddon, a very small village situated a short distance from Bakewell. Here is a good opportunity to have a break, and either eat lunch or get a drink from the pub, The Lathkill Hotel. There are also public toilets and a car park. The road up to the village is very steep, but does not last very long. To rejoin the route, you could go back down the same way you came to the bottom of the lane, turning left, alternatively there is a footpath opposite the Lathkill Hotel with magnificent views over the dale, which rejoins the route at Conksbury Bridge.
The path then continues as it did before, flat and wide, but with some steps leading along the bottom of some fields. To the right, a weir appeared, as well as a family of swans that were gracing the water. Then you come to a road, which is the one that crosses Conksbury Bridge. Conksbury was a medieval village that was deserted, and the ruins of it are hidden behind the trees to the right and away from the path. The road heads either to the left, to Bakewell, or to the right, to the village of Youlgreave. At this point the River Lathkill reaches its widest, as it flows beneath the bridge.
Then you have to follow the road over the bridge to the right, for just a short while, until the entrance to the path comes into view on the left hand side. Here the path becomes less distinct, but basically goes along the bottom of the fields. An old house called Raper Lodge appears on the right, after crossing a dirt track, on the way to Alport. This dirt track leads up to the village of Youlgreave. After about 10 minutes of walking, you reach the hamlet of Alport, which marks the end of this particular walk. At Alport the River Lathkill joins the River Bradford at a confluence.
Here the walk ends, but can be extended by following the path along the River Bradford. More watering holes can be reached this way, as Youlgreave offers a few pubs, an ideal spot to quench the thirst of a deserving walker in the Peak District.