Distance 5.7 miles
Time 2-3 hours
Terrain Grassy footpaths and country lanes
Accessibility Moderate – stiles, squeeze stiles, some uneven terrain on field paths
Start and end points Grid Ref SK 21748 – Postcode DE45 1BT – /// expectant.targeted.dark
Map required Ordnance Survey OL24 (White Peak)
This lovely circular walk takes you along the banks of the River Wye from the ancient market town of Bakewell into the picture-perfect village of Ashford-in-the-Water. From there the route heads up through pastureland onto the Monsal Trail, before returning on quiet field paths to Bakewell.
This is a walk of 5.7 miles. There are stiles and squeeze stiles, although no terribly steep ascents or descents. Bakewell has a great number of cafes, restaurants, pubs and sandwich shops, not to mention stockists of Bakewell Pudding! The village of Ashford-in-the-Water is your halfway point and is also well served with pubs, cafes and tea rooms, as well as the most delightful riverbank as a picnic venue. There is plenty of public car parking available in Bakewell (fees apply).
Allow 2-3 hours to complete this walk at a moderate pace, more if you allow for rest stops and a lunch break.
Please note, although we take great care with our instructions and test all our walks thoroughly ourselves, we recommend that you always take a map with you in case you do get off course. And always make sure that you wear appropriate clothing and walking boots for the terrain and conditions!
1. From the centre of Bakewell, head to the Rutland Arms Hotel, which dominates the main street through the town. Facing the hotel, you need to take the road that runs to the right of it, North Church Street. This quiet road is lined with pretty cottages and passes the beautiful church on your left. For an interesting diversion call into the Old House Museum, which is on your left on Cunningham Place. It has wonderful displays about the history of Bakewell.
2. At the top of the road, bear left and continue on to Stanedge Road. This road then bends to the right and goes past St Anselm’s Preparatory School on the right. After the main entrance into the school, look out for a public footpath on the right, signposted Ashford.
(Note, this is not a particularly pretty section of the walk, but bear with us – it gets better very quickly!)
3. Follow the public footpath as it curves behind the school grounds, with a high fence to the right and a hedge to the left. The path goes through woodland and eventually down some steps towards houses. Turn right as you reach the houses and carefully cross the road directly in front of you.
4. Turn left to walk along the footpath, and after approx 50 metres turn right through a narrow gap in the stone wall, directly opposite the Deepdale Business Park on the other side of the road.
5. Follow the obvious path through a rather overgrown grassy field towards houses. Go through a gate and along a narrow ginnel between high fences. The path soon emerges on to a residential street. Cross over the street and take the path that is directly opposite, with a fence to the left and a hedge to the right.
6. Cross over a stile and emerge into wide fields, with the River Wye to your right. The path is pleasant and well-marked here as it goes across the fields, over a succession of stiles and through gates. You will pass two spectacular weirs and a number of shady pools.
7. The path eventually emerges through a gate in a drystone wall on to a road. Turn right and walk on the footpath alongside the road for a short distance. Turn right again on a quiet lane that crosses two bridges over the river and passes the village cricket ground on the right. On reaching a crossroads, where the lane meets up with a busier road, take the road straight opposite that leads into Ashford in the Water.
8. Walk into the pretty village, going straight on past the Ashford Arms on your left and, a little further along, the Bull’s Head on your right. Both serve good food and real ales. You will also pass the Aisseford Tea Rooms on your right, which serves great cakes and sandwiches.
9. Soon after passing the church on your right, on reaching the octagonal bandstand, turn right on to Fennel Street, lined with pretty stone cottages. At the end of Fennel Street, continue straight on and head along Vicarage Lane, as it bears right and up out of the village.
10. As Vicarage Lane heads out into the countryside, look out for a public footpath on your right, signposted for the Monsal Trail. This takes you down a path through a squeeze stile and between rows of fencing, to reach a further gate on to a road. Cross the road and continue on the footpath almost directly opposite, between two drystone walls.
11. The path goes through a squeeze stile and emerges into open pastureland. Follow the well-marked path to the left of a drystone wall, through a succession of gates. After a squeeze stile the path reaches a quiet lane. Cross the lane and continue on the footpath almost directly opposite.
12. On passing through a gate, you’ll see a fork in the path. Continue straight on, skirting along the bottom of the hill, rather than heading to the trees on the ridge. Pass through another gate and over a couple of stiles, heading gently uphill, to eventually reach the Monsal Trail.
13. Turn right on the Monsal Trail, signed towards Bakewell. Follow the lovely Monsal Trail for just over a mile, under bridges and past a former station, until you reach a crossroads of paths with a Public Bridleway. Turn right here, heading up through a succession of gates on a path with a drystone wall to the left and fencing to the right. The path continues, eventually tracking between two drystone walls, with beautiful views towards Bakewell.
14. Continue on the path as it drops down through a gate into a pretty stretch of woodland. The terrain can be muddy here. Follow the path down past the beautiful 17th Century Holme Hall and bear right. The path reaches a road, with a bridge directly opposite. Continue straight on across the sheepwash bridge over the river.
15. On reaching the road, turn left and walk on the footpath alongside the river, with the river to your left. This path eventually leads you back into Bakewell, to return to the Rutland Arms Hotel ahead of you.