An outstanding walk starting from the pretty village of Ashford-in-the-Water. The route crosses open fields with fine views of the countryside as it gently climbs up to Monsal Head. From where you get one of the best views in Derbyshire, of the Wye slowly winding its way down the dale between meadows and the steeply wooded side of the valley.
Monsal Dale viaduct is recognised as a triumph of Victorian engineering, but came in for strong criticism when it was built. John Ruskin the poet and conservationist wrote, ‘The valley is gone - and now every fool in Buxton can be in Bakewell in half an hour and every fool at Bakewell in Buxton’.
The walk passes under the viaduct, past a weir along a wooded gorge to the main road. After a steep climb up to Shacklow Wood the path gradually descends to join the riverbank by a former water mill and joins the Sheldon road close to the site of what used to be Ashford Marble Works, before returning along the A6 to Ashford.
Length: 6 miles.
Start/Finish: Ashford Village Car Park off Fennel Street, to the left of the church.
Location: Alongside the A6 Bakewell to Buxton road, at the junction with the A619.
Terrain: Hilly in places, but mostly easy walking. A section of the climb up to Shacklow Wood can be difficult under foot in wet weather.
1. From the car park walk back towards Fennel Street and turn to the right at the roundabout signed for ‘Wardlow and Monsal Head’.
2. Within a few yards take the footpath on your left up a short flight of steps. Follow the path to the right behind a row houses to a stile.
3. Walk across the field guided by the marker post to the far right hand corner and go over a stile onto a farm track.
4. Go to the left up the track until it enters a field, when you immediately turn left up a slope, keeping close to the wall on your left.
5. After crossing the stile in the top corner of the field, turn sharp right keeping close to the stone wall and go through the next stile onto another farm track.
6. Continue along the well signed track, shortly to follow the edge of the steeply sided valley round to the right, to climb a short flight of steps to Monsal Head.
7. From here take the signed path down a flight of steps to Monsal Dale and the viaduct, turning left at a gate by the end of some farm buildings.
8. Cross a footbridge and turn left to follow the path close to the River Wye for just over a mile to reach the busy A6.
9. Walk across the road to the far side of White Lodge Car Park, and take the surfaced path across the field heading for the trees high up on the left.
10. On reaching a waymarker bear to the left to enter a narrow limestone valley. In about 50 yards cross a stile on the left and follow the winding path to another waymarker taking the route signed ‘Ashford and Sheldon’ leading up the hillside to the left.
11. Go through a stile into Shacklow Wood heading for Ashford. Continue along the path as it gently descends to follow the riverbank to the Sheldon Road where you turn left.
12. After a short distance turn right along the A6 and then left at Sheepwash Bridge into Ashford. Carry straight on up Fennel Street, turning to the right at the top back to the start of the walk.
Places of Special Interest in the Locality
Bakewell is set in an enviable location on the banks of the River Wye, in the heart of the Peak District. Visitors flock to Bakewell in the summer, to shop and explore its many nooks and cranies, to admire its fine buildings, or just relax and feed the ducks by the lovely, clear, sparkling waters of the River Wye. There is more space in the winter, but on a sunny day even, that is limited.
Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop (Tel. 01246 583392) situated at Pilsley one and a half miles from Chatsworth House, at what used to be the Stud Farm and later became a milking parlour. Then in 1977, the Duchess of Devonshire opened The Farm Shop in the former Tack Room, selling beef and lamb from the estate. As the shop has become more successful, it has expanded to include a whole range of products. Further expansion has taken place in 2004 and 2008. Open daily.
Old Market Hall, Bakewell (Tel. 01629 813227) is an impressive building that dates back to the 17th century and now accommodates the Tourist Information Centre. There are a number of interesting displays on show.
Monsal View Cafe (now known as Hobb's Cafe): (Tel. 01629 640346) a genuine friendly walkers’ café with stone floors, large mugs of tea or coffee and a good selection of food. A section of the café sells craft goods. Open Tuesday to Sunday from the end of March to the end of October. Reduced winter opening.
Bull's Head: (Tel. 01629 812931) a fine old coaching inn with roses round the door and seats outside. Open for food at lunchtime every day and all evenings during the year apart from Thursday evenings in the winter
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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The lovely village of Ashford-in-the-Water nestles on the banks of the River Wye as it slowly meanders its way south towards Bakewell.
The bridge is no longer open to traffic and is a favourite spot where visitors can either feed the ducks, or gaze down into the clear waters to see if they can spot a rainbow trout.
ASHFORD WELL DRESSINGS
On Trinity Sunday, Ashford celebrates the founding of the church. Following the service, there is a procession to bless the six wells that are dressed annually.
ASHFORD CRICKET CLUB
There has been a
cricket club in the village since before 1841, and it is currently a
member of the Yorkshire and Derbyshire Cricket League, where it holds
Division 1 status. The club also plays mid week in
the Longstone League and holds friendly matches on Sundays.
There has been a cricket club in the village since before 1841, and it is currently a member of the Yorkshire and Derbyshire Cricket League, where it holds Division 1 status. The club also plays mid week in the Longstone League and holds friendly matches on Sundays.
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