Peak Forest and Peter’s Dale
Time taken – 3hours
This is a great walk for us as it is local and if preferred can be walked from my door, adding a little extra time to cover the distance between Tideswell and Wheston, though here we started in Peak Forest near the Church and Devonshire Arms. It is a walk of two halves that makes good use of the Pennine Bridleway and if you like it can be made into two smaller circular walks, though a Sunday afternoon, I find, call for 3 hours out with canine companion and friends, for a stroll and natter in the lovely Peak District dry dale countryside.
To start, take the lane opposite the Pub, Damside Lane, which takes you to Damside Farm, where you will find a stile just a little further on which, after crossing, you need to bear left towards Dam Dale Farm. If you take the route around its left side and use the stiles you will follow Dam Dale for about 15 minutes before reaching a stile and walled lane to the left. Turn right and follow the Pennine Bridleway for a short way until you reach a stile to the left leading into Hay Dale Nature Reserve, which in itself is worth a wander around as it takes in five separate limestone valleys, including Lathkill, Cressbrook, Monk’s, Long and Hay Dale, all with their rich reserves of “flora and fauna” - well worth the time spent investigating, all on their own!!
After entering the Nature Reserve just continue walking through Hay Dale, enjoying the scenery as you go and after about 15 minutes you will pick up on the road to Wheston, on your left. You then need to cross over to your right and continue down into Peter’s Dale, which is buttressed by limestone to the left. Following the dale you will eventually pick up the Tideswell Road having passed through an entrancing “gorge” like feature.
Once reaching the Tideswell Road, turn left and rejoin the Pennine Bridleway – not always level under foot but secure enough to allow your canine companion off the lead – and make your way up to Monksdale House which you will find on your left after about 10 minutes. Turning left here to continue along the Bridleway you pass onto a tarmac lane for another 10 minutes when it bends off to the right. Continue walking straight on along a walled track and until you reach the walls enclosing the gardens on Wheston Hall and onto the road, turning left and you should notice a signpost indicating that Peak Forest is 3 1/4 miles. Before continuing though, do look out for the Wheston Cross, which dates back to medieval times and provided a road marker from Tideswell to Buxton.
From here follow the road towards Peak Forest and after about 20 minutes or, roughly, one mile take a left, again following the Bridleway sign down to Peak Forest. With a walled lane underfoot, that proceeds to Hargatewall – Peak Forest, you will then again reach Dam Dale, to the right and pass Hay Dale on your left. Take a right turn and then follow the road for about a mile until you reach the main road in Peak Forest where you will quickly see the church and the pub, indicating that you are back at the beginning – maybe ready for a lap of honour, or if not then ready for a glass of the hostelries finest and a bowl of water for your faithful companion!