Distance 3.8 miles
Time 3-4 hours
Terrain Grassy footpaths and country lanes
Accessibility Moderate – stiles and squeeze stiles, some uneven terrain
Start and End Point Grid Ref SJ 99852; Postcode SK17 0SU; /// interviewer.newest.living
Ideal For Kids aged 6 and over
Map Ordnance Survey Explorer OL24
This walk is quite a distance but it’s very pretty and the terrain is not too challenging, so it should suit kids aged 6 years and over or those with a bit of stamina! Three Shires Head is where the counties of Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire meet. It’s a series of beautiful pools, waterfalls and bridges in the middle of the countryside, and on a sunny day it’s the most perfect swimming, paddling and picnicking spot. Along the way you’ll find a rope swing and a tree to climb, and there’s no shortage of wild open fields to run around in. Be aware that you are likely to encounter cows on this route.
This is a walk of 3.8 miles. There are gates, stiles and squeeze stiles. The terrain is uneven and rocky in places, and there are moderate uphill and downhill sections. There is free parking at the start of the walk, and a short distance away from the car park there’s a small café with public toilets. Allow around 3-4 hours to complete this walk at a moderate pace for little legs, depending on how long you spend playing in the pools!
This is a natural environment with all the natural hazards that come with that. Take extra care if playing in the water – the rocks get slippery and some of the pools can be deep. Grown-ups, please make sure all children in your care are supervised around the water. Wear waterproof clothes if it’s rainy and sunscreen if it’s sunny. Please respect this beautiful area and leave no litter. Finally, we try as hard as we can to make our instructions detailed and accurate, but it’s a good idea to carry a map of the area with you as well in case you go off course.
All walks are undertaken at your own risk. Remember, we provide the walk, you provide the common sense!
1. Park at The Roaches car park at Gradbach, managed by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust (grid ref SJ 99852, postcode SK17 0SU). Parking is free.
2. Walk out of the car park to join the quiet road and turn left. Just beyond the car park boundary turn left again and cross the stream by way of a little bridge into a field. If you can’t wait for the adventure to start, there is a great rope swing in this field swinging out across the water. Hold tight and take care not to fall in!
3. Walk diagonally right across the field, keeping the River Dane on your left. Go through the small gate onto a quiet lane and turn right. The lane soon bears left and slightly uphill. Turn left at Dane View House and follow the well-marked public footpath (signed ‘DVW’) straight on through a series of gates and across open fields.
4. At a crossroads of paths marked with a prominent signpost, turn left to follow the route to Three Shires Head. The path begins as a grassy trail, but be aware that it forks after approx. 200 metres. Follow the right hand fork to follow a rocky trail.
5. Approx 200 metres after joining the rocky trail, follow the path to turn right through a gap in the stone wall. The path heads diagonally up a slight hill. Keep on this path, ignoring the second path that heads right more steeply uphill into trees.
6. The path is well-marked with rocky terrain and cuts through a beautiful valley. There’s a great climbing tree on your left after a short distance.
7. Continue walking downhill, and Three Shires Head will soon come into view ahead of you, with its unmistakeable collection of bridges, waterfalls and pools. Rest a while here and enjoy playing in the water. It’s a great place for a picnic and a paddle!
8. When you’re ready to leave, cross over the main bridge and turn left, to follow the path in the same direction as you came but on the other side of the river.
9. After approx. 400 metres look out for a signpost low down to the ground on the left, signing a narrow public footpath off the main track. Take this grassy footpath through fields and a gate. Where the path forks, take the left hand lower path, through a gap in a stone wall, again with a signpost low down to the ground. The views ahead are wonderful.
10. This path emerges to join a quiet lane to the right of a small cottage. Turn left on the lane, down the hill and through a gate. This quiet, pretty lane cuts through the valley, past a barn on the left where you might catch a glimpse of a barn owl if you’re lucky.
11. Soon after passing a farm on the left called Hole Edge, look out for a signed public footpath on the left. Follow this adventurous path as it tracks downhill through bracken, through a gate and beside a stone wall.
12. Where the path reaches a stile, cross over the stile and turn left on the quiet lane. You will pass Gradbach Methodist Church on the left and cross the River Dane. After approx. 200-300 metres look out for the gate in the wall that you took on your outward journey. Retrace your steps back through the field, over the little bridge and turn right on the lane to find the car park on your right.
13. Should you need refreshments and/or a toilet stop after your walk, continue straight on the lane, passing the car park. After approx. 500 metres on your right you will find Gradbach Mill, where there is a lovely café selling sandwiches, snacks, cakes, drinks and ice creams.
The walk was good, apart from the lane.
I loved the waterfall and the barn.
I also loved the adventurous path.
Flo, aged 8
With big thanks to Flo (aged 8) and Vince (aged 7) for walking, swinging, climbing and paddling so enthusiastically on this walk.