How to find the Chee Dale stepping stones near the Monsal Trail

Chee Dale stepping stones

Chee Dale stepping stones - Credit: Penny Furnival

Between Buxton and Bakewell the River Wye passes through a deep limestone gorge known as Chee Dale.

Managed by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust the dale is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is rich in Fauna. In addition the dale is famous for its challenging cliff climbing and there are over 150 recognised routes on its buttresses of sheer rock.

The stepping stones at Chee Dale are a popular diversion for walkers exploring the western end of the Monsal Trail. The two sets of stones navigate the River Wye and are not as busy as the stepping stones at Dovedale that are located in the south of the national park, There are a number of ways to reach the stones; we have chosen the two most popular starting points/; Topley Pike layby and Millers Dale station.

From Topley Pike layby

You should find the 'Chee Dale layby' on the A6 (four miles east of Buxton)
From here, drop down to the River Wye. The path is steep and best taken slowly, giving you time to take in the glorious views of the Wye Valley far below.  

At the bottom, cross the Monsal Trail to Blackwell Mill. This gorgeous hamlet with its riverside terraced cottages could be a setting from a Thomas Hardy novel.  

The view from Topley Pike layby overlooking Blackwell Mill

The view from Topley Pike layby overlooking Blackwell Mill - Credit: Malcolm Hall

Why not stop and purchase a morning coffee and cake from the bicycle hire centre and enjoy the waterside setting before crossing the Wye via the wooden footbridge. 

Turn right and follow the left bank of the river as it meanders through thick vegetation. At the height of summer, a machete could come in useful but it’s worth persevering for this is a riverside walk that is extraordinarily beautiful.  

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You will – river level permitting – cross the two sets of stepping stones, forced out onto the river where the limestone cliffs drop like a plume line to the water.  

A second footbridge takes you to the right bank and climbs above the river before dropping down to a third bridge and back to the left bank. The going can be tough with a series of rocky rises and falls. 

Then the river opens out to languid pools and marshy islands, a great spot on the river to observe dippers bobbing on the narrows.  

Far below the dismantled railway, you get a different perspective of the great viaducts; at the bottom of these soaring arches, you feel incredibly small.  

Watch abseilers scream and holler as they drop off the 90-foot-high bridge at Millers Dale – or the climbers negotiating, spider-like, the limestone walls.  

Emerging at the old station, enjoy lunch at the recently restored waiting rooms, now a café - The Refreshment Rooms – carefully decorated to reflect their Victorian hey-day. 

From here it’s an easy stroll along the Monsal Trail back to Blackwell Mill before tackling the steep ascent to Topley Pike layby. 

From Millers Dale Car Park

Millers Dale Car Park is probably the most popular place to begin a trip to the Chee Dale stepping stones. You can join the Monsal Trail from the old platform of the old Millers Dale station, which was once one of the largest stations on the  Midland Railway line before it closed in 1967.

Stand on the platform and turn right, Walk past the little train up to the bridge then head down the steps on the right side of the bridge . Follow the sign to Chee Dale  There are two lots of stepping stones then work your way back up to the Monsal Trail to walk through the tunnels back to Millers Dale car park .

Millers Dale railway station

Millers Dale railway station - Credit: C Coy Ato Bulloch

Below are two videos of a straightforward routes to take to reach the stepping stones and your way back to your starting point from Millers Dale car park.

The photos and videos in this article were all shared by the members of our Derbyshire and Peak District walking group.
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Chee Dale stepping stones

Chee Dale stepping stones - Credit: Bernice Johnston

Chee Dale stepping stones

Chee Dale stepping stones - Credit: Claire Anderson

Chee Dale stepping stones

Chee Dale stepping stones - Credit: Darren Singleton

Chee Dale stepping stones

Chee Dale stepping stones - Credit: Josh Land

Chee Dale stepping stones

Chee Dale stepping stones - Credit: Lisa Brierley

Chee Dale stepping stones

Chee Dale stepping stones - Credit: Paul Griffin