Best of the Limestone Peak, 29th September 2018

Given a very promising forecast, a 5am alarm call had got me out of bed to drive to Curbar Edge for some early morning photography. Afterwards, and following a fried breakfast at the Yondermann Cafe, Wardlow Mires, I parked at the old station of Miller’s Dale, once an important station on the Midland Railway’s main line from St Pancras to Manchester. Unfortunately the railway closed in 1968, but the section through Miller’s Dale is now the very popular Monsal Trail and part of the old station is used as a Ranger’s office and for public toilets. My walk was to take me through the village of Priestcliffe and then over Taddington Moor to Chelmorton. From Chelmorton, I was to descend to Wye Dale down Deep Dale and then, the highlight of the walk, follow Chee Dale back to Miller’s Dale, a distance of about 16km.

I set out with a spring in my step as it was such a beautiful morning and followed the old railway for about 400m before leaving it and following the steep path up past the old Priestcliffe quarry, with extensive views over the White Peak and then across fields to Priestcliffe village.

West over Millers Dale on the the path to Priestcliffe
Looking back over Miller’s Dale from the path to Priestcliffe

From here it was a short distance along lanes towards Taddington located just off the A6 road. I then climbed gently onto Taddington Moor, an extensive area of high ground with views in all directions, walked across several fields, one with overly inquisitive rams in it. These did not appear to be aggressive but did run towards me in a slightly alarming manner. Resisting the temptation to touch them, I calmly climbed the stile into the next field before a short descent to Chelmorton, one of the highest villages in England and surrounded by a patchwork of fields enclosed by drystone walls. Next it was time for the gradual descent into Wye Dale through Horseshoe Dale followed by Deep Dale, typical Peak District limestone Dales with steep sides and outcrops of limestone.

Heading down Horseshoe Dale
The path down Horseshoe Dale

At the bottom of Deep Dale, it was a case of crossing the A6 again and following the beautiful river Wye along the track to Blackwell Mill where there is a cycle hire centre for the Monsal Trail, which starts at this point.

Blackwell Mill cottages
The cottages at Blackwell Mill

I cut up to the Monsal Trail and followed it for around 600m before taking the path steeply down into Chee Dale. Through Chee Dale, the path hugs the river closely and resorts to stepping stones in two places where the river becomes a gorge. There are also several rocky sections of the path requiring care until the valley opens out as it approaches Miller’s Dale. The whole path is a delight surrounded as it by hugely impressive limestone scenery; cliffs, crags and tors, and a playground for the rock climber. I spotted several dippers along the length of the river, a beautiful blackbird size bird completely at home in water and with its endearing habit of bobbing up and down when it stands out of the water.

The river Wye and Chee Dale
The path through Chee Dale
The river Wye and Chee Dale
The river Wye in Chee Dale

Having reached the car park at Miller’s Dale station again, I was ready for a welcome cup of tea from the refreshment van there before driving home.

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 12.28.44
The route taken from Miller’s Dale
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