Distance: 4.5 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Terrain: Woodland paths, grassy footpaths and moorland trails
Accessibility: Moderate, no stiles, some uneven terrain in woodland and on moors
Start and end grid reference: SK 24984
This beautiful circular walk is a real treat, taking you through stunning ancient woodland and then onto wild open moorland for breathtaking views – all in less than 5 miles. The walk starts in Padley Gorge, a beautiful mixed woodland, and traces the course of Burbage Brook as it tumbles over rocks and beneath pretty footbridges. From there, the route heads out over Hathersage Moor, around Over Owler Tor and over Millstone Edge to Surprise View, with quite possibly the best views in the whole of the Hope Valley, before returning to the start point.
This is a walk of only 4.5 miles. There are no terribly steep ascents, considering the views on offer, but the terrain is uneven in places, particularly through Padley Gorge and over Hathersage Moor. There are no stiles, although there are kissing gates. The walk starts and ends close to Grindleford Station Café, which is legendary for its huge portions of honest food and pints of tea, but there are no other refreshments en route. Allow 3-4 hours to complete this walk at a moderate pace, allowing for rest stops to take in the views. The route starts and ends at Grindleford train station (S33 2JA, SK 24984), so it’s easily accessible by public transport.
1. Heading out from the train station, walk up towards Grindleford Station Café. Turn left to cross the pretty bridge over the river, with Padley Mill straight ahead of you. Continue walking along this lane as it bears left and up a slight hill. After approx. 100 metres take a lane off to the right, signposted Longshaw Estate via Padley Gorge. Go through the wide gate at the end of this lane and enter Padley Gorge.
2. Padley Gorge is a beautiful, ancient, mixed woodland, home to a diverse population of plants, birds and animals. It’s a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Look out for rare pied flycatchers; this is one of the few places in the UK where they live and breed successfully.
3. The path through Padley Gorge is fairly clear. When in doubt, always follow the most well-trodden or paved section of path. There is a noticeable fork in the path after approx. 300 metres, at which you should take the left fork, heading slightly up and away from the river. Keep to the left of Burbage Brook at all times.
4. As the trees begin to clear, go through a gate and emerge into a grassy clearing beside the river. Go straight on, keeping the river on your right, and don’t cross the footbridge. The path continues through open countryside, always tracking to the left of the river.
5. At a second footbridge, where the marked path veers right to cross the bridge, turn left instead to walk up a less distinct grassy path between large rocks that leads upwards towards a gate beside the road (A6187). Go through the gate and up some steps to reach the road. Cross over the road, with great care as it’s very busy, and take the public footpath directly opposite.
6. Go through a further gate to emerge on to Hathersage Moor, with wide open moorland ahead of you. There is a fork of paths as soon as you’ve gone through the gate, and you need to take the left path, continuing pretty much straight on over the moor. This wide grassy track soon narrows as it cuts through the heather, but is quite obvious and easy to follow. After approx. 300 metres you will see the distinctive flat-topped height of Higger Tor in the distance ahead of you.
7. When you reach a fork in the path at a wooden bench, take the left hand fork. The path here is quite narrow and uneven, and it slowly rises to the crest of a small hill. As you reach the top of the hill you will see a crossroads of paths, at which you should go straight on and down towards the view. Again, the path here is quite obvious and easy to follow as it winds downhill. The views ahead of the Hope Valley towards Hope, Castleton and Mam Tor are stunning.
8. You will reach a T-junction of paths, at which you should turn left and follow the path towards the rocky outcrop on the horizon known as Over Owler Tor. At a less distinct fork in the paths, take the left hand fork and continue heading roughly straight on. You will pass Over Owler Tor on the hill above you to your left. Keep walking uphill on the obvious path until you reach some fencing. Stay on the path and do not cross the stile over the fence.
9. Continue on the path as it stays to the left of the fence. There are stunning views of the Hope Valley to your right. This path is relatively well made and easy to follow, although do be aware that it is uneven in places.
10. Continue on the path until you come to a small gate marked Access Land. The path continues round to the left here, but instead go through the gate and walk straight on for a short distance through the heather until you reach a bench perfectly positioned overlooking a low stone wall. Rest a while and enjoy the tremendous views along the Derwent Valley to your left and the Hope Valley to your right.
11. To continue the walk, follow the path alongside the low stone wall, keeping the wall on your right. You will soon pass another bench on your left. As the path drops down and bears right towards the road, cross over the road and take the footpath immediately opposite. Cross the road here with extreme care – it is busy and you’re positioned on a corner. It may be advisable to walk up the road slightly and then retrace your steps on the opposite side.
12. Follow the public footpath away from the road, through a wide gate and into Lawrence Field. Walk straight on, ignoring the gate to the right and the footpath off to the left, and follow the line of the fence. After approx 300 metres you will pass through a small gate. Continue straight on, now walking to the left of a stone wall.
13. At a fork in the path by a lone pine tree, take the left hand fork and head for a copse of silver birch trees. The path continues on to the left of a stone wall for approx. 200 metres. At a gate in the wall turn right and go through the gate, turning immediately right to head down and back into Padley Gorge. The path takes you past impressive rocks on the right hand side and then zig-zags back on itself.
14. Follow the path until you rejoin the main track on which you came into the woodland. Turn right and retrace your steps back to Grindleford station.