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Deepdale Buxton


Walk Distance 4.8 miles, 7.7 km
Total Climbing 576ft, 176m
Estimated Time 3hrs
Starting Point Wyedale Car Park, SK 103 724


This walk travels through some of the lesser-known Dales of the White Peak District.
Deepdale, Horseshoe Dale & Bullhay Dale are places of natural beauty with lots of interesting features from Derbyshire's Industrial heritage, evidence of occupation by early man and myths & legends.

Deepdale, a tributary of the main Wye (river) valley, has recently been awarded SSSI status (Site of Special Scientific Interest) testifying to the importance of the Dale.

The walk also traverses the surrounding Limestone plateau and visits King Sterndale and Chelmorton taking note of the history of both.
This is intended to be more than just a guided walk. It intends to bring to the attention to the public facts and details that other guides rarely, if at all, mention.


Leave Wyedale car park by the entrance and cross the main A6 road (Take Care).
After crossing the road follow the entrance road into the large limestone Topley Pike Quarry.
This large quarry was opened in 1907 by Messrs. Newton Chambers & Co. and has been subsequently worked from this time by various companies namely Derbyshire Stone Ltd and Tarmac Roadstone Holdings Ltd.

The road climbs steadily uphill and soon veers to the right into the works. The path that you want is to the left at this corner.
Follow the path that negotiates the bottom of the steep sided dale.
The dale shortly opens out at an area that until recently was marred by an unsightly disused crushing plant & associated buildings. This as now been removed and the immediate area tidied up.
The path skirts this area and soon a branch path heads off to the left up the small and shallow Marl Dale.
This path marks the return journey of the route that you are following.
The features to be seen in this dale will be discussed at a later stage.

Follow the path up a steep grassy slope and soon arrive at a track alongside large slurry ponds from the nearby quarry.
Follow the track, heading into Deepdale.
If you look up to your left about half way along this track you will notice a line of disturbed ground that traverses down the steep dale side and ends at a large hillock of waste material that can be seen 30 feet above the track. This is the surface impression of a small lead vein located in a fault that crosses the dale, although its continuation on the right hand dale side as apparently been quarried away by the subsequent workings of Topley Pike. The accessible workings of the vein consist of a single small mined chamber with a shallow blind shaft in the floor.

Continue along the track and you will soon go slightly downhill and start to follow the rough path along the floor of the dale.
You have now entered the unspoilt part of the dale with high limestone cliffs and buttresses high on either side above slopes of scree.
The well- defined path winds its way along the dale floor below the large slopes of scree.
You will notice whilst following the path that the dale floor contains a drystone wall that runs along the length of the dale. This wall in fact marks the boundary between two Mining Liberties, Buxton and the Combined Liberty of Taddington, Flagg, Monyash and Upper Haddon respectively. You are walking in the latter.

Continuing along the path you will soon arrive at an area where a spring of water issues from the side of the path, this is known as Deepdale Side ResurgenceThe water appears from a fault that runs diagonally to the right up the dale side from this point although its course is hidden from view by the adjacent scree slope.

It should be noted at this stage that this fault contains another short mine level or adit that as been driven along its course into the dale side for a distance of 160 feet in the search for galena or lead ore. This level is situated directly above the large scree slope.

It should also be noted at this stage that in winter months a fairly large stream appears in the dale, fed by this resurgence and another further up the dale below Thirst house cave. Therefore if the walk is done in the winter months the dale has a completely different aspect to the summer months.

The path continues to wind its way along the dale floor and shortly the dale up ahead becomes narrower with dramatic limestone cliffs towering above the path.
At this point a distinctive path crosses the one you are following, zigzagging its way down and up the steep dale sides.
This path is one of the main routes from King Sterndale village to Chelmorton village.
If you choose to lengthen the walk a detour is recommended from this point to discover the various points of King Sterndale, and to see a more bird's eye view of the dale.

DETOUR (length 2.5 miles approximately)

Take the right hand path and follow it up the side of the dale.
On reaching the top good views of the dale are to be seen to the left and right.
Negotiate the stile and enter the field keeping the wall to your right.
You will soon arrive at a stile in the wall, cross this and continue along the path towards the building that can be seen a short distance ahead.
Cross another stile to the left of the building and enter the road that leads to King Sterndale village.
On the opposite side of the road is Christ Church built in 1847 and consecrated by the Lord Bishop of Lichfield in 1849.

Follow the road to the right, passing by the church and continue towards the village.
In a short distance you will notice on your left a building surrounded by trees, this is King Sterndale Hall. The Hall was the home of the Pickford family, founders of the world famous removal service. At the time when the Pickfords were in residence at the Hall the local area was barren land criss-crossed by field walls. The Pickfords had the walls demolished and the stone was used to create a gigantic lime kiln known as a 'pudding pie'.

When the kiln was 'fired' and the limestone was burnt it was distributed to all of the local farms and also throughout Derbyshire, which testifies to the size of the kiln. The area of land created by this venture is today known as King Sterndale Park. This can be seen to the left of the road between the Hall and the church. It is also interesting to note that at the same time the road was diverted to skirt the eastern boundary of the 'Park'. In winter snowfalls it is a curious fact that the present road is frequently blocked while the route of the 'old road' remains clear.

Continue along the road and you will soon arrive at the village with its huddle of farms and cottages.
In the middle of the village green there is a portion of an old cross-called the 'Butter Cross', this is a reminder that a small market was once held in the village.

Retrace your route back to the church and follow the field path back to the detour start in Deepdale.
On arriving back at the floor of the dale a small cave-like entrance can be seen above the path.
Negotiate the short steep path that leads directly to this feature.
This is in fact not a cave but another short mine level that as been driven into a calcite vein with little or any content of lead ore that outcrops at this locality. Up until the late 1970's the level was almost full of crystal-clear water giving it the name of Pool Cave, a name which is still used in caving guides today. The level was subsequently drained by mine explorers to see if it continued for any distance into the dale side, it was discovered that the level soon ended at small rubble filled hole in the floor. The level is quite safe to enter being fairly roomy inside.

Follow the short path back down to the main path and turn to your left and continue along the floor of the dale alongside a high cliff.

You will soon turn a corner and enter the narrower part of the dale. In a short distance the path rises steadily to the large and impressive entrance to Thirst House Cave.
The cave consists of two chambers, the entrance chamber and the larger inner chamber. An old report in a local newspaper says that the cave contained a total of eight chambers, one of which contained a small stream and waterfall. These further chambers cannot be found today perhaps the route into them has collapsed. The entrance chamber is easily explored but beware of the holes in the floor and the low roof. It is not advisable to enter into the further reaches of the cave unless you are familiar with this sort of activity.

The local archaeologist, Mr Micah Salt from 1884-1899 whilst excavating the cave found a vast amount of Romano-British pottery along with bones of the great brown bear.
Outside the cave two skeletons were found buried about 4ft below the surface. These internment's were of New Stone-Age people.

Also outside the cave entrance there is a spring of water and local folklore tells a tale that the water was charmed by an elf named Hob, who lived in the cave. It is now said that if the water from the spring is drank on Good Friday all your ailments will be cured. Many years ago the cave was actually called Hobs Thirst House on account of the resident elf.

Other tales are told of the dale being the home to the 'little people'. One of which tells of a local miner returning to his home through the dale in the dusk when he came across an elf, captured him and placed him in a sack on his shoulder. The elf created such a noise and commotion that the miner eventually, though reluctantly, let him go.

If you stand in the entrance of the cave and look across to the other side of the dale you will see another large cave entrance high up on the side of the dale. This cave is called Deepdale Cavern, a name that is very misleading because there is no cavern to be found in this cave only a low winding passage that ends after 80 feet.

Leave the cave and follow the path to the left as it winds its way underneath high cliffs.

In a short distance a stile in a fence is encountered.
Cross this and continue up the dale which now as changed from a rocky gorge to a wide U-shaped valley.
In a short distance the dale splits into two branch dales, the right hand of which is called Back Dale (private land) and the left of which is called Horseshoe Dale.
You want to follow the path along the bottom of the latter dale.

The path that you are following in Horseshoe Dale is in fact an old route called the Priests Way. Legend suggests the name came from the priest of King Sterndale Church used the path as a short cut to get to Chelmorton Church and vice-versa.

The path is well defined along the dale floor and you will shortly arrive at another area where the dale splits once again.
The right hand branch is the continuation of Horseshoe Dale while the left-hand branch is the short rocky Dale called Bullhay Dale.
Follow the path into Bullhay Dale and you will arrive alongside the large cavernous entrance to a disused calcite mine.
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Bullhay Dale may be inaccessable. If this is the case, follow Horeshoe Dale to the road. Turn left and follow the road until you rejoin the described route.

If you stand facing the entrance you will notice that the mine as been driven into the dale side on two levels, upper and lower. It appears that the upper level was the working area while the lower level was used to haul the mined mineral from the workings. It is not advisable to enter the mine because of loose rock and waste materials.
Chelmorton is a typical upland village with a single street lined with buildings down either side and strip fields that radiate from each side of the village.

Above the village can be seen the high hill known as Chelmorton Low on top of which are located two barrows or burial mounds dating from the Bronze Age. The Low is in fact 1442 feet above sea level making it the highest limestone hill to the south of the River Wye.

The church stands at a height of 1200 feet above sea level and is therefore considered to be the highest parish church in England. The church was built in the 13th Century and dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It contains some interesting relics, these include several stone coffins, the 14th. Century chancel screen and the stone font that dates from the 15th. Century. The tall spire that is a landmark for many miles is topped by an unusual weather vane in the shape of a locust, in commemoration of the church dedication to St. John the Baptist.

Follow the road uphill and you will soon arrive at a point where the road turns into a rough lane that veers to the right.
If you follow this lane uphill you will soon arrive at a point where a spring of water issues from the side of the lane.
This spring is known locally as Illy Willy Water. It issues from above a layer of volcanic lava and then runs down into the village below where it fills several roadside troughs and then suddenly disappears underground to continue its journey to an unknown destination, possibly in Deepdale.

Retrace your steps downhill until you come to the first lane on your right.
Take this lane and walk towards Shepley Farm.
Pass by the farm and continue along the lane until you come to the junction with the Brierlow Bar to Topley Pike road.
This road is known as Old Coalpit Lane on account that it was once the main route from the Axe Edge coalfield, to the Southwest of Buxton, to the main Buxton-Derby turnpike.

Cross the road and enter the lane to the right that leads to 'The Burrs' on an area of land known as Chelmorton Flats.
Follow the lane and you will soon arrive at 'The Burrs' where the lane becomes a path across the fields.
This unusual name is an old term used by lead miners to describe a very hard bed of rock encountered when driving a mine level. It as been noted earlier on the walk, through Deepdale, that several levels were driven in the direction of Chelmorton Flats perhaps this is why the location is named 'The Burrs'. Perhaps a yet to be discovered mine level lies hidden under this location.

Follow the path through several fields and you will shortly arrive at the head of Marl Dale, mentioned at the start of the walk.
The path winds its way down into the dale.
When you arrive at the dale floor you are at an area known as Churn Holes. In amongst the jumble of rocks that occupy the dale floor at this location there is hidden a small cave that once housed Romano-British people. Also in the immediate vicinity is another larger cave entrance that ends after a few feet. These caves were excavated by Mr Micah Salt in 1898 and yielded an old Roman brooch, bones of stags, pigs & sheep and burnt bones of the same.

Follow the path down the dale and you soon join the path used at the start of the walk.
Turn to the right and follow the path back to the Wyedale car park.