6 stunning Peak District walks across the counties
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Six counties share our beautiful Peak District National Park: South and West Yorkshire, the metropolitan county of Great Manchester, Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire.
South Yorkshire offers tranquil waterside rambles alongside its many reservoirs. West Yorkshire showcases some of the highest and most isolated moorlands in the Peak. Cheshire claims its very own little Matterhorn in Shutlingsloe. Staffordshire draws walkers to its dramatic Manifold Valley and knife-edged Roaches. Derbyshire has it all: rocky dales, wild moorland and dizzying edges.
Here are six superb rambles to enjoy as the days grow warmer and longer, one for each Peak District county.
Some of them are firm favourites with ramblers, others meander through the quieter corners of the national park.
South Yorkshire – Waterside Wanderings
Only twenty-odd minutes from the centre of Sheffield, the Bradfields and their reservoirs offer a tranquil world far removed from the bustle of city life.
At just under seven miles, the waterside ramble takes in two reservoirs alongside the historic twin settlements of Low and High Bradfield.
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From Sands Car Park head through Low Bradford to School Lane, then follow the path along the brook and Damflask Reservoir to New Road.
Cross the dam head and follow Loxley Road, then a woodland path on the opposite bank, emerging at Lamb Hill.
Drop down the lane, then take the path climbing up to High Bradford. The Old Horns Inn boasts superb views of the Peak on its high-level terrace.
Refreshed, follow Jane Street with its charming terraced houses and old watch tower on the corner (built to keep grave robbers at bay) then the path through St Nicholas’ Church’s graveyard with its ancient tombstones.
Descend to Smallfield Lane and turn right to follow the road, then the waterside path along Agden Reservoir. The path curves round the end of the reservoir before continuing along its south bank, emerging at Windy Bank.
Follow the country lane back to Low Bradfield, refuelling at the Schoolrooms before returning to the car park.
West Yorkshire – Five Reservoirs Walk in the Holme Valley
The eastern fringes of the Peak District are puddled with reservoirs surrounded by moorland and woods, providing soul-restoring walking.
This five-mile, five-reservoir ramble starts from Digley Reservoir North Car Park. Head down Gibriding Lane (disappearing into the water), crossing between Digley and Bilberry reservoirs, then follow the Kirklees Way to Holme.
The Pantry will tempt you in with its breakfast-in-a-butty or, if arriving later in the day, you can enjoy a slap-up meal in the Fleece Inn next door.
Staying with the Kirklees Way, the route continues south then snakes east through Netherley Clough.
Follow the banks of Ramsden Reservoir, then head for Kiln Bent Road, Riding Wood Reservoir on your right.
Turn left onto Brownhill Lane, dropping down to Brownhill Reservoir, the last of the five waterbodies.
In Holmbridge, turn left onto Digley Road, looking for a path through woodland that climbs up to Bank Top Lane. Keep left to join Digley Royd Road then Gibriding Lane, leading back to your starting point.
Greater Manchester – Take the High Road at Dovestone
Approaching Dovestone Reservoir from Holmfirth, it feels like you’ve dropped into the Highlands of Scotland. The hills aren’t as high here but the sheer-sided rock faces give the illusion of great height.
Stepping out from Dovestone Car Park, you can stay low and round Dovestone (2.5 miles accessible route) or add Yeoman Hey Reservoir (four miles).
For great views over the reservoirs and moorlands, climb up to the edge from Dovestone’s east bank.
You can drop down Ashway Gap to emerge near Dovestone’s dam head. But for a truly epic six-mile walk, continue along the ridge of Raven Stones Brow to the Trinnacle – three spectacular gritstone stacks – before picking your way down through Birchen Clough.
The wide, easy track following Greenfield Brook is a welcome sight after negotiating the rock-strewn clough. Fly down to Greenfield Reservoir, then follow the north and west banks of the three reservoirs back to the car park.
Cheshire – Romance at Lyme Hall
In the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Mr Darcy (aka Colin Firth) set hearts a flutter as he emerged from a Lyme Park lake.
At the information centre, you can pick up a leaflet describing the two-mile amble through the parkland and gardens of Lyme Hall, following in the footsteps of Mr Darcy on the Pemberley Walk.
From the National Trust car park near the house, the route heads west then south through Pursefield Wood to Paddock Cottage with great views over the Cheshire Plains.
Turn left here to follow a track, then head northeast across the parkland. You’ll pass the pond where Darcy took that legendary dip.
Still heading northeast, the path meets the Gritstone Way, returning you to the car park. Drop into the gardens via the grand inner courtyard and do a loop of the garden lake to finish the Pemberley Walk.
Austin fans will recognise many of the backdrops for the developing romance between Darcy and Elizabeth.
Cheshire-Staffordshire – Riverside Rambling Along the Dane
I love this quiet leafy corner of the Peak District shared between Cheshire and Staffordshire. It’s an area of peaceful wooded hillsides surrounding the burbling River Dane, and much quieter than the Roaches.
This three-mile walk starts out from the pretty hillside settlement of Wincle in Cheshire before dipping into Staffordshire.
There’s some parking around the 16th-century Ship Inn (far from any sea). Descend the road, turning right before the bridge to follow the track along the Dane.
Drop into Wincle Brewery and sample some of their beers named after legendary local characters: Wibbly Wallaby, Sir Philip, Old Hag and Life of Riley.
The outside seating with views over the river valley offers peace and tranquillity. Continue along the track past the fishing ponds, then the pathway following the Dane Valley Way until you reach a second footbridge.
Cross over into Staffordshire and climb out of the valley at Gig Hall, heading over upland fields then down through more woodland to a road.
Turn left at the junction, then almost immediately right to follow the route along the edge of Swythamley Park.
Former owner, Sir Philip Brocklehurst (referenced in the beer) famously went with Shackleton to the Antarctic, perhaps explaining the landlocked Ship Inn.
Take a left at Snipe Cottage to return to Danebridge, then drop down to the road. Turn right, crossing the river back into Cheshire and your starting point.
Derbyshire – Through Meadow and Dale Around Elton
Starting from the rural village of Elton, take the path on the left just before the village hall, passing between houses to cross a field.
Join the farm track leading to Elton Common (one of the largest upland fields I’ve ever seen).
In spring and summer, the chorus of skylarks is sweet on the air. On reaching the A5012, turn right to walk the verge for a short distance, and right again to drop down through fields to Gratton Dale, rich in wildlife.
Emerging at Dale End, turn left onto the road, then follow the public footpath sign to climb east over fields above Gratton Lane. The route meets Cliff Lane, its verges packed with wildflowers in the warmer months.
Divert to Robin Hood’s Stride, a great place for an easy scramble and the perfect spot for a picnic lunch with fine views towards Birchover.
Follow the Limestone Way downhill, then climb Dudwood Lane part way, taking a right to cross fields back to Elton and the end of this peaceful six-mile ramble.
Words by Helen Moat