84, Peak Forest to Miller's Dale by Monk's Dale and back by Wormhill, 7th February, 2016
The four miles or so from Peak Forest to Miller’s Dale through Dam Dale, Hay Dale, Peter Dale and Miller’s Dale has to be one of the most beautiful stretches of walking anywhere in the Peak District. I parked up on the edge of Peak Forest where there is a small lay-by by a derelict building. From there I walked down to the village centre and left down Damside Lane past the wonderfully named Parish Church of Charles King & Martyr. After Damside Farm the way goes left and almost immediately afterwards right to go down a long field to Dam Dale Farm where a narrow path skirts along the side of a huge cowshed (very full of beasts today). Then it is just glorious down through the green pastures of Dam Dale, into Hay Dale where the valley deepens and starts to get a little woody, over the road at Dale Head into he today rather waterlogged Peter Dale and finally the beautiful mossy woods of Miller’s Dale where progress is slowed by the roughness and slipperiness of the limestone pathway but it is all so lovely you wouldn’t want to rush. At the end of Monk’s Dale there is a bridge over a river after which a path climbs up and down again to deposit you on the road by the church in Miller’s Dale.
Here you cross the road and head towards the pub but follow a footpath sign right before you get to it, cross the Wye on a bridge and head uphill to the Monsal Trail. It was at this point I realised I had just over two hours of daylight left so I didn’t hand about. I followed the Monsal Trail west, over a big viaduct, past the old station and the old lime kilns and over a second, smaller viaduct. Just after the second viaduct there is a footpath leads down the hill into Chee Dale and straight back out of it up into Wormhill. I walked briskly north through the village only pausing briefly to glance at the memorial to James Brindley who was born nearby and the old stocks by the roadside. Where the main road turned left I carried on into Hargatewall. To where a track goes off to the right through Hayward Farm. Bad news. There is a big fierce dog at this farm. Good news, He (or she, I didn’t hang about to investigate) is attached to a chain and was reduced to squealing in frustration at not being able to eat me. After about a kilometre this track turns left but the public footpath carries straight on downhill across fields. But there is no signposting of any kind so you need to have vour wits about you and be paying attention to the map. Pretty soon I was back down at Dale Head with very little daylight left at all but with more brisk walking, now retracing my steps, I was soon back at Damside Lane.
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