Length: 5 miles
Time: 2.5-3 hours
This is a circular walk around Monsal Dale, and includes a fair bit of climbing. It begins at a popular viewpoint of the Peak District, in front of the Monsal Head Inn. There is a great vista over Cressbrook Dale and Monsal Dale, looking over the old railway line. There are several benches situated at a small car park, and an ice cream van for refreshments. Hobbs café is very near as well.
A path signposted to Monsal Head marks the start of the walk. It is a steep downhill, through some woods. It then joins the Monsal Trail. This is a very popular route, and sometimes resembles a small A-road, with lots of cyclists and walkers using it. It can get a bit too busy, but this walk involves only a short part of it. The tunnels have recently been opened, and must be experienced. The first one is called Cressbrook Tunnel. All the tunnels look exactly the same, but this one is smaller than the others. Between the tunnels, you can catch the odd glimpse of the River Wye down below.
The next tunnel is called Litton Tunnel, and is the largest one. After coming out of it, you can see Litton Mill to your right, a complex of apartments. At some point you will approach a small bridge, with some steps running up the left hand side. This is where the majority of the climbing starts. A signpost saying Priestcliffe Lees is situated near the top. A short but very steep climb starts here, going up and up the hillside. Upon reaching the top, you can turn around enjoy another great view over the dale.
After reaching the top, the path continues over a wall on the right hand side, and is well signposted. It then approaches a track. This heads towards Top Farm, and the through to Middle Farm. Then the path takes a left turn, passing a couple of houses.
At this point you experience magnificent views over the other side of the dale, towards Fin Cop, and Taddington Dale. The route from here is very easy to follow, and gradually drops down, returning towards Monsal Dale, eventually reaching the Monsal Trail.
Here we rejoin the route at the viaduct, and to get to Monsal Dale, just follow it up the same way you came down. Then you can enjoy refreshments at either the pub or the café.