Walk: Youlgrave and the Lathkill Valley

This walk takes us from the village of Youlgreave, located on the level ground between the Rivers Bradford and Lathkill, into Lathkill Dale, one of the classic Peak District limestone valleys. Further upstream the Lathkill often runs dry or hides underground, but here it runs over a series of weirs, creating a series of attractive ponds.

Ascent: 1,300ft
Length: 7.5 miles
Last Walked: December 2013

We start at a car park at the western end of Youlgrave Village (on the road to Middleton)

1: SK 205 641
Youlgreave from the Bradford ValleyTurn left out of the car park and head into the village. Follow the main road to a crossroads, then turn right onto a road that heads steeply down towards the River Bradford, passing a public toilet and the village hall.
2: SK 208 640
River Bradford at Youlgreave Just before the road reaches the river take a path that branches off to the left, crossing a field to reach the river, then head downstream until the path reaches another road.
3: SK 213 640
Cross this road and head along a track that soon crosses the river, curves to the left, and continues to run downstream with the river to the left. After about half a mile the track re-crosses the river and reaches a road.
4: SK 220 645
This road is on the edge of Alport and the River Lathkill. Turn right onto this road, then just before the bridge over the Lathkill turn left onto a footpath than runs upstream alongside the river. Follow this road for nearly a mile. About half way along we pass a bridge leading to Raper Mine - ignore this bridge and continue along the footpath until it reaches a public road.
5: SK 211 655

Conksbury BridgeTurn right onto this road, cross the bridge and then turn left onto a footpath that runs alongside (and normally a little above) the Lathkill. We are going to follow this path for about two and a half miles. This section of the river falls into three general sections. In the first part we pass a series of weirs built to create pools used for fish breeding. This brings us level with Over Haddon, where we pass a river-side house.

Pools in the River LathkillPool in the River LathkillThe next section is a permissive footpath, running through woodland with signs of mining, including Bateman's House (across a footbridge), with an unusual underground feature. We emerge from the woods at a point where there are side valleys on both sides of the river.

Crags in Lathkill DaleFinally we run along the foot of the open hillside, until we reach a footbridge opposite Cales Dales, a larger side valley that runs south from the Lathkill.

6: SK 174 655
Cross this footbridge and head south down Cales Dale.
7: SK 172 653

Steps leaving Cales Dale After a short distance the valley splits - the main branch continues on south, without a path. A side valley runs off to the right, carrying one path. Our route is to the left - look for a path that dips down to cross the valley then climbs steeply up the opposite slope, following a well constructed rocky staircase up to the top.

Looking across Lathkill Dale This now brings us to a typical patch of Peak District limestone fields, with distant views and neat stone walls. The path runs across three fields to reach Calling Low farm, where it skirts around to the left of the buildings - the route was visible underfoot on my visit, heading across the middle of the first field, toward the opposite corner of the second field and cutting the curner in the third. It is then clearly signposted as it passes Calling Low. In the next large field head diagonally across towards Low Moor Plantation. The path cuts across a corner of these woods, then across the end of one large field, and across the middle of a larger one, turning to the right about half way across). This brings us to a strip of smaller fields bordering a road - the path turns left inside the first field and runs diagonally across them to the road.

8: SK 192 644
We reach the road at a T-junction. Cross the main road and head down the side road (past some layby parking).
9: SK 194 644
This brings us to a proper car park. Turn right onto a track that runs to the left of this car park, then curves left and drops downhill quite steeply to reach another road. Follow this road down to a T-Junction, then turn left and follow this road all the way back into Youlgrave.

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