County Walk: Monsal Head and Litton Mill
PUBLISHED: 10:28 13 September 2013 | UPDATED: 14:58 03 May 2020
From the heights of Monsal Head Pat Tidsall and Roma Wilcock take us on an attractive and intriguing walk down the Monsal Trail and back via charming Water-cum-Jolly Dale
Directions: From Bakewell follow the A6 Buxton road. In 1.5 miles turn right onto the A6020, then left into Ashford-in-the-Water on the B6465. This almost immediately turns right, signed Monsal Head. Follow this road for about 1.25 miles. Turn left into the Monsal Head pay and display car park.
Description: We hope you will enjoy this walk as much as we did. The new tunnels are fascinating in that they open up new vistas in the areas between the tunnels that no one has seen for many years. This is an easy walk except for the rather steep descent at the start and the climb at the end. If you wish to avoid this steep section see the alternative route below, which will give you a 7.25 mile walk.
For anyone keen on history this is a fascinating part of the county with glorious countryside offset by various reminders of its industrial past — dark deeds in the case of Litton Mill, which gained national notoriety in the late 18th/early 19th century for its owner’s mistreatment of child labour.
Linear distance: 5 miles or 7¼ with alternative route
Total height climbed: Approx. 100ft
Parking: Monsal Head SK 185715
Paths: Trail and riverside paths
Stiles: One on the alternative route
Refreshments: Monsal Head
Picnic: Seats along the trail
Monsal Head car park — The Viaduct — Monsal Trail with Cressbrook and Litton Tunnels — Wye Valley — Water- cum-Jolly — Monsal Trail
1 From the car park walk up the passage-way between the hotel and the Stable Bar. Turn left and opposite the café go through the wider wall gap. Turn right down the stone steps. In a few yards turn left to continue down the path to the viaduct. (A)
2 Turn right across the viaduct and continue along the trail and into the well-lit Cressbrook Tunnel. (B)
3 This section of the tunnel leads to an interesting open area with views down into Wye Dale before you enter Litton Tunnel. (C)
4 After Litton Tunnel you will leave the Monsal Trail at the second exit signed Litton. (D)
5 Just as you enter the wood by the trail turn right down the wider woodland path which meanders down to the river via steps.
6 Cross the concrete bridge and turn right in Litton Mill signed ‘Cressbrook’. (E)
7 Pass the cottages to walk to the private gate where you cross the tarmac area to the right of the gate (concessionary path). Go down the steps and walk through the renovated mill buildings.
8 At the end of the buildings turn right across the bridge then turn left. (F)
9 Follow the pretty wooded riverside path in Miller’s Dale. The River Wye will be on the right.
10 In about one mile you will have towering limestone cliffs on the left. This — Water-cum-Jolly Dale — is a favourite climbing site. If this area is flooded there is a diversion indicated. It was very dry when we walked it and the stepping stones looked as if they had not been used for a long time!
11 (G) At the end of the dale cross a footbridge and turn right then cross another footbridge over the weir. Go through the gate and turn right up a partly stepped path.
12 Contour the hillside and at the end of the ascending path go through a gate back onto the Monsal Trail. (H)
13 Turn left to retrace your outward route back to Monsal Head.
Alternative route (see map)
1 From the car park return to the road and turn left then almost immediately right. Walk into Little Longstone.
2 After passing the inn and opposite Little Longstone Barns turn right through a gate.
3 Keep straight on across the bottom of two fields and two gates then follow a wall close on the right. Cross the wall stile on the right.
4 Turn right along the Monsal Trail to go through the Headstone Tunnel. This will bring you out on to the viaduct.
5 Now follow the route above from instruction 2.
6 At instruction 13 retrace your alternative outward route.