This spectacular walk follows the course of the River Wye through the gorges of Cheedale and then returns by another route. Although the distance is not great, this is not a walk for anyone who is not fairly nimble - the going underfoot is often difficult, rocky and slippery, and there is always the possibility of getting your feet wet! However, since the tunnels on the Monsal Trail were re-opened there is always the option of walking along the railway line and omitting the tricky bits.
From the Wyedale car park follow the track downstream for approximately 1km, passing underneath the railway line. The railway track then comes back across the river and the track again goes beneath it. Follow the track round to a spot opposite Blackwell Mill cottages, which have long outlasted the mill which once stood here. They are placed in a strange, isolated position beneath a triangle of railway tracks with no vehicular access to the cottages themselves while on the railway above there was Britain's smallest railway station, a tiny halt where the main-line trains dropped passengers for connections to Buxton.
Opposite the cottages there is a wooden cafe and bike hire shop and a path up onto the railway line. This is the start of the Monsal Trail, which takes the track of the abandoned Midland railway all the way the Bakewell.
The route described here mostly follows the bank of the river, but it is worth mentioning that as an alternative it is also possible to follow the former railway line. The views are better from the railway track, but down at river level you can see a variety of river-life, such as ducks, waders and, if you are lucky (or early) perhaps a heron or even a kingfisher. To get the best of both worlds walk one way along the river bank and come back along the railway.
The railway passes through a cutting and emerges into the grandeur of Cheedale, with its huge limestone cliffs which are so popular with rock-climbers. The first is Plum Buttress which is just on the right.
Continue on until there is a bridge crossing the River Wye. Here take a path on the left which descends some steep steps to the river below. Turn left and follow the river bank path downstream. The path is spectacular with stepping stones in places. Eventually you come to a small footbridge and there is another railway bridge right above you. It is possible to escape here by crossing the footbridge and following the path back up to the railway.
However, we shall continue along the river bank. This is the most interesting section of the walk, where the path hugs the bank of the river under an overhanging wall of rock and then, when the pathway runs out, continues on a series of stepping-stones beneath the rockface. If the river is in flood these stepping stones are quite often submerged, and the alternatives are to turn back or get your feet wet!
From this point there are several alternatives:
1) You can continue easily along the north bank of the Wye to rejoin the railway track by a viaduct over the Wye and continue from there to Miller's Dale Station, where there is a car park (you could start the walk from there). If you do this then simply return along the railway track through Chee Tor tunnel. This offers quite different views of the Chee Dale gorge and is an excellent circuit.
2) Alternatively cross the bridge and head up across the fields to Blackwell, from whence it is a very pleasant walk back to the start. Follow the path across the fields from the bridge, heading approximately south until you reach a farm track and follow this past a large farm to the road. On the way you pass the relics of a Britano-Roman field system and there are excellent views across the valley behind you. Turn right onto the road and follow it to a sharp left turn, where you take another farm track which continues straight on. When this peters out a footpath continues across the fields and into a dale which descends to the railway track close to the point where you originally joined it.
3) A third alternative doubles back up the north bank and heads up to the village of Wormhill. To return via Wormhill take the path which doubles back on your left at the bridge and heads diagonally up the side of the valley. You reach the road just before Hassop Farm - take the stile in the wall leading into the farm and continue through the farmyard. Just through this there is a stile in the left wall, signposted to Flag Dale. Take this path and cross the fields diagonally, until a steep little descent leads into the secluded little valley of Flag Dale. Climb out of the dale and continue across the fields in the same direction until you reach a farm track. Turn left and follow this, which leads to the tiny hamlet of Meadow, perched high above Chee Dale.
Pass though the hamlet onto the start of a road and take a left turn onto a track which winds down the hillside. This gives splendid views of the upper part of Cheedale before it descends to pass beneath the railway and reach the river. Cross the footbridge over the river and join the track which leads directly back to Wyedale carpark.