Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Walk around the Manifold Valley

Around the Manifold Valley

Walk supplied by Angela Clarke of Belper

Start: Free car park in Wetton (SK 1089 5513)
Route: Wetton - Thor's Cave - Manifold Valley - Ladyside Wood – Grindon
- Ossoms Hill - Wetton Mill - Wetton Hill - Wetton

Map: Explorer OL 24: The Peak District White Peak Area.
Distance: 5.5 miles.

Terrain: Good paths, fields and quiet lanes. 

Refreshments: Pubs in Wetton and Grindon. Cafe at Wetton Mill. The pub in Grindon is not passed following this route.

Toilets: Car park in Wetton and at Wetton Mill.

Please note that the cliffs around Thor’s Cave are exposed with a steep drop below them.

The walk:
This walk explores the hills above and around the Manifold Valley. Whilst it involves two long but straightforward climbs the views are both extensive and ever changing. With two caves to explore and the possibility of an ice cream during the walk it makes an ideal family summer walk.

Turn right out of the car park and then right at the first junction, signed Wetton Mill. At the next road junction bear left to find a lane and public footpath sign on the left.

The views will have now opened up to reveal both the prominent top of Thor’s Cave, on the left, and the magnificent view across the Manifold Valley to Grindon, identified by its church spire.

Ignore the public footpath sign; across the field, instead take the concessionary footpath along the lane, signed for Thor’s Cave, to the left of the field. After a short while you will reach a stone stile in the wall on the right, which once again is signed Thor’s Cave.

Take the stile and follow the wall, on the left, downhill where the view to your right will soon include Wetton and Sugarloaf hills. Looking across the valley can you spot the limestone Nan Tor Cave behind Wetton Mill?

The path will take you to a gate, which you go through, but where are you going to go now?

If you take the path to the left you will head up above Thor’s Cave, which will give you arguably the best views of the Manifold Valley and the surrounding area. The cliffs below here are both steep and dangerous but it is possible, with care, to walk along the top of the escarpment to find the entrances to caves where ancient remains have been found but do not enter the caves. Whilst this is an interesting area to explore be very cautious if you choose to do so.

Having visited the top of Thor’s Cave return to the gate and take the path heading downhill to find the magnificent entrance to Thor’s Cave. A short scramble will get you into the cave itself, which can be explored. However do remember that there are steep drops below you, especially when you are near ‘the window’, another large opening allowing light into the cave.

From the entrance to Thor’s Cave take the stepped footpath downhill through the woods. When this path meets another path turn left and continue downhill to the bridge across the, usually dry, River Manifold. From here you can look back up to Thor’s Cave sitting high above the valley.

Crossing the Manifold Way path, take the stile opposite onto ‘Ladyside’ and follow the clear path uphill, through woods, to another stile into a field. From here you have a superb view of Thor’s Cave and the cliffs above it.

Continue uphill to a stile across the fence to your left, which takes you back into woodland. Follow the path through the wood to reach first a wooden stile and then a stone squeeze stile.

Immediately in front of you is a steep bank, initially follow it round to the right and then head up it. From the top of the bank the path follows the line of trees, to the left of the field, into a small depression after which the path splits.

Take the lower path, on the left, to cross the brook and then turn left, to skirt around trees before turning right and heading uphill. The stone stile you want is out of sight, in the top left hand corner of the field but once you reach the summit of the hill it will come into view.

Cross the stile and continue straight ahead, to the left of the barn in the corner of the field, to a stile onto the road.

Turn right into Grindon to find a junction, in front of Ivy Cottage, where you bear right. At the next junction bear right and then almost immediately right again, to follow the public footpath sign to a squeeze stile by a gate.

Continue straight ahead, to a fence crossed by two stiles. Take the stile on the left and then bear left to a wooden bridge crossing the brook crossed earlier in the walk. Continue in the same direction, uphill, to find both a squeeze stile and a wooden stile into the next field.

The path continues straight ahead to a gate onto a road. Turn right along the road and follow it to the entrance to Ossoms Hill Farm. Turn left along the farm track towards Ossoms Hill Farm, passing the barn on the left, to find a sign for Wetton Mill on the right.

Take the squeeze stile behind the farm building and continue straight ahead to a second squeeze stile. The route continues in the same direction to a third squeeze stile from where you follow the path, which is clearly marked by yellow topped posts, around the side of Ossoms Hill to a wooden stile.

As you make your way around Ossoms Hill the view away to your left extends across the valley to Butterton, identified by its church spire and on a really clear day to the moors beyond. As you continue round the hill Butterton disappears to be replaced first by views down into Waterslacks and then with views along the Manifold Valley.

Cross the stile and then bear right continuing round and down Ossoms Hill. As you follow this path downhill your view is dominated by the three hills on the far side of the Manifold Valley. To the left is Ecton Hill; in the middle is the narrower, double-topped, Sugarloaf, with the domed Wetton Hill to the right.

The path reaches another stile and continues downhill, swinging left, to a wooden stile near the bottom left hand side of the field.

Cross the stile, take the bridge across the stream, turn right at the road and then almost immediately right again to take the bridge, on the left, across the River Manifold to Wetton Mill.

Pass in front of, or perhaps call into, the teashop at Wetton Mill to find a signed footpath between the buildings, which takes you uphill to a gate. Go through the gate and turn left if you wish to explore Nan Tor Cave, which is above Wetton Mill.

From the gate continue straight ahead uphill before turning right to emerge at a post above the dry dale, which runs between Sugarloaf and Wetton Hill. Turn left at the post along a path to a gate, which continues down to the dale floor. Continue straight ahead (left) along the dry dale until you reach a gate at its far end.

Shortly after passing through the gate take the squeeze stile on the right, signed Wetton. Cross the brook by the stone slabs to follow the path uphill keeping the wall to your right. When the wall turns right follow it, continuing uphill, to reach an awkward wooden stile. To visit the summit of Wetton Hill take the stone stile, on the right, across the wall you have been following uphill.

Having crossed the awkward stile head diagonally left, across the field, to another stile. The path bears right, around the hill, to a squeeze stile. Continue straight ahead to find that you have now reached what must be a serious contender for the title of ‘Narrowest Squeeze Stile in the Peak District’.

Once through the stile continue straight ahead along the track to emerge onto the road in Wetton. Turn left and continue past ‘Ye Olde Royal Oak’ until you reach the road on the right, signed for the car park, which you take.

We have taken reasonable steps to ensure that this walk is safe and achievable by walkers of a realistic level of fitness. The publisher accepts no responsibility for any injuries caused to readers whilst following the walk. Always wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

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