Monsal Head, Cressbrook Dale & Peters Stone
25th January, 2020
Route Plan & A Gruesome Tale of a Noisy Neighbour
Our walk starts at the viewing area at Monsal head with views over the Monsal Dale and Headstone viaduct. Cutting through the wall, follow the path to the right which takes you down to the valley and towards Cressbrook mill. The mill is no longer in use and is now apartments.
The original mill dates back to 1779 and was built by Richard Arkwright, a well-known name around the Peak District. From here we follow the road up (this part is quite steep) once at the top follow the right turn down to Ravensdale cottages, a few have now been turned into holiday lets which overlook the river.
Just ahead of the cottages is Cressbrook Dale nature reserve taking you through stunning woodland and follows the Cress brook through to the valley, buzzing with wild life, impressive rock outcrops and lush moss covering everything in its path. Once you’ve passed through the woods the valley really opens up and heads round to Peter’s Stone AKA Gibbet Rock.
This dome shaped limestone rock was the location for the last public Gibbeting in Derbyshire. Local lad Anthony Lingard aged 21 was convicted of killing the local toll-keeper Hannah Oliver. After he was executed in Derby his body was hung in chains on the rock for 11 years, until local residents began to complain about the noise of his bones rattling in the wind and was finally removed.
As you head up to the left towards the village of Litton don’t forget to look back as the view and shape of the rock is best seen from this side.
You now cut through the village of Litton, the local store and post office sells amazing homemade cakes. But today we chose the Red Lion pub for halfway refreshments - Full of crisps and a nice cold pint we headed down towards Tideswell Dale which also has a small car park, information point and toilets. This part of the walk is popular with young families as is accessible with pushchairs, there are shallow waters for paddling in along with a large wood carved vole (well it looked large with Sue perched on top).
As you continue down the well-marked path, you’ll re-join the river wye and see Litton mill in front of you. Which has also been turned into private apartments. As you head through the mill and over the bridge, you’ll now have the river on your right and will follow the crystal clear waters with it’s rainbow trout and abundance of wildlife. We saw dippers, tits, wagtails and a heron. On the opposite side of the path we spotted tiny bright red fungus which turned out to be scarlet elf cups. We’ve never seen these before and they were well hidden under the littering of fallen leaves.
On the approach to Cressbrook mill it tends to get rather muddy and after heavy rainfall the river Wye can come over the path. Luckily there is a high path which can be taken if this is the case. (follow the path up the limestone outcrop and back round to Cressbrook mill) We were lucky enough just to have the mud! Once at the mill head over the weir and up the hillside to join the Monsal trail and the mouth of Cressbrook tunnel.
We didn’t go through the tunnel (we just popped our heads in) as we were heading back towards Monsal Head. This route is a well known and very popular cycle path. As you approach the viaduct and headstone tunnel it’s just a short, sharp uphill climb (don't worry pub at the top) back to the Monsal Head hotel and car park.
A great walk for most abilities with lots to discover on this trail, the ancient looking moss covered woodland, the gruesome story of Peters Stone, little caves, carved animals, rock climbing super humans, and for the quiet treading hikers lots of wildlife.
We first did this route a couple of years ago after reading Dean Read's blog, link to his post here
Let us know if you enjoyed the trail!
To watch the walk we did with 'The Herd' on 19th January 2020, see our YouTube channel, link below:
Done this walk before? Planning to give it a go, or recommend a walk like this one? Give us a comment below.
Sam & Sue