We thought our first walk we would make pretty local as it was a bit of a compulsive decision to get the boots on and get out.
We started our walk at the car park in Ashford-in-the-Water a nice little village which sits alongside the crystal clear waters of the River Wye.
The car park sits at the top end of the village and get very busy so get there early otherwise you will have to struggle to find a space in the village. Public toilets are also located in the car park.
From the car park turn left and head up Vicarage Lane, after about 100 metres take the footpath on the left at the end of the wall. Take the path up the hill which skirts resident gardens. When the footpath reaches the field carry on across the field heading for the posts which signify the path. The path is well trodden so very visible but just in case head across the field and aim for the stile at the far right corner.
Once over the stile, turn left and head up Pennyunk Lane. Whilst walking up the lane take time to turn around and look backwards, the views are lovely.
Pennyunk Lane takes you virtually all the way to Monsal Head, as the Lane ends you can pretty much see the crags of Monsal Dale, just follow the path until it brings you out at the top of Monsal Dale. Here you will see a couple of seats strategically placed for some fantastic views down the Dale. On a clear day the view goes on forever, its not too bad on a murky day!
Monsal Head can can a bit busy at weekends, there is a pub and a cafe and on a sunny day an ice cream van sits in the car park. After your NAAFI break its time to head down to the vale by taking the path to the left, (Back track) and head down the path through the woods down to the bottom of Monsal Dale. Its a steady descent and in some places it can be slippery when wet but its all worth it when you get to the bottom, the weir is worth spending a few minutes watching the water cascade over its crescent lip.
Continue along the path and cross the River Wye using the footbridge. If you have dogs and they are like Milly (our chocolate Lab) then you can expect to stay in this small riverside meadow for a while as the dogs will enjoy a swim here.
Milly and Monty pretending to be good!
Keep the river on your left and follow the path that goes through Fin Wood heading towards the A6. During the summer months, Fin Wood is a nice place to walk through, if you have a sharp eye there are some colourful birds on the banks of the river. However, I like this bimble on a nice clear winters day as there is no foliage on the trees and bushes and you get nice views down the Wye Valley:
The path through Fin Wood can get extremely muddy in the winter but you can dip your boots in the stream as you come out of the wood. As you exit the wood, cross the stream over the stile and cut up the field heading for a gap in the wall. This is the point where you should put the dog on a lead if you already haven't, just over the wall is the busy A6 and there is no gate to stop your dog running on the road.
Cross the road and head for the car park on the opposite side. As you cut across the car park you will spot a footpath heading off straight in front, follow the path which skirts around the edge of Taddington Wood:
Keep to the path and follow it until you get to the wall shown in the picture above. You now have to follow the wall up to the stile, sometimes (Like our walk) there is a fast running stream which you have to walk up so again, be prepared to dip your toe. If you have decent waterproof boots you will be fine. After you climb over the stile at the end of the wall its time to get yourself prepared for a bit of a climb up into Great Shacklow Wood. Its not a gut buster but its a modest climb and if you are unfit it will get you breathing heavy. It can also it can get very slippery in places so take a bit of care.
Diane, Milly and Monty with Great Shacklow Wood behind
Follow the path heading up into Great Shacklow Wood after a decent enough climb you come to a wall, go over the wall and continue to climb up into the wood. After a short while you start to descend down onto the Wye Valley and once again walk alongside the river. You will notice a few ponds along the way which are stocked with trout, there is a trout farm nearby which I believe, keeps the river well stocked.
Its now a steady meander along the river taking in the views along the way. There is a derelict Mill which is worth a look around, I often think when I do this walk, what it would be like to renovate this mill and start generating electricity for Ashford, surely it could be done? Anyway, I digress.
Continue allong the river but don't forget, always take the time to stop and take in the view behind as well as in front:
This was a pretty cloudy day in mid winter but in the summer it is alive with colour.
Continue along the footpath which brings you out onto a road, turn left and follow the road for about 300 metres where it connects with the busy A6. Be careful on this B road as there are no footpaths and traffic can be quite quick.
At the junction with the A6, turn right along the footpath and head towards Ashford-in-the-Water. When you are opposite the bridge cross over the road and have a wander down the river bank before you cross the bridge back into to the village. In the summer this river bank is full of photographers and artists trying to catch the beauty of this little corner of Derbyshire. On a nice warm sunny day its a lovely place to spend a few minutes, get the flask out, have a brew and take it in:
Use the seats under the tree on the right to reflect on your day
Well its time to head on back to the car park. Cross the bridge into the village and continue to walk up the road to the car park to collect your car.
Two fed up dogs having finished their walk, I am sure they would do it all again!
As opposed to going back to the car, you could always have a walk around the village, there is a nice tea room just past the church that has a nice walled garden to the rear (dogs allowed) and there are a couple of decent pubs too!
Well thats this one done and dusted. Not sure where or when we will be out again but hopefully it will be in the very near future, I fancy a circular walk around Castleton, including a hike up Mam Tor.........