A circular walk on the Chee Dale Stepping Stones, Peak District

by Jan

One of the places we really wanted to visit on our trip to the Peak District was the Chee Dale Stepping Stones.  Not only did it sound like an exhilarating route, but the stepping stones look so picture-pretty and unlike any others we’ve seen.  Luckily the walk was only a short distance from the pretty village of Tideswell, where we were staying.

It turned out that the Chee Dale Stepping Stones walk was one of our favourite walks in the Peak District.  If you haven’t been, you should give it a try.

So, here’s our complete guide for visiting Chee Dale Stepping Stones in the Peak District with information on parking, opening times, parking charges, walking directions, and the best time to visit.  We’ll also give you details of a shorter walk, if you are looking for something quicker.

What is Chee Dale?

Chee Dale is a picturesque deep-sided river gorge on the River Wye, in the Peak District.  Located just 3 miles from Buxton in Derbyshire, this beautiful valley is home to a nature reserve, ancient woodland and two sets of stepping stones.

It’s a nature-lover’s delight and a popular spot for walking in the Peak District.

Overview of the Chee Dale Stepping Stones walk (5 miles)

  • Start: Miller’s Dale Car Park
  • Distance:   5 miles (8km)
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty:  moderate (physically challenging in parts)
  • Terrain:  uneven,
  • Refreshments:  2 cafés, toilets at start

How long is the Chee Dale walk?

There are several walks to the Chee Dale Stepping Stones, but we picked a 5-mile circular route that would take us to both sets of stepping stones.  Yes, that right – there are two!

Parking for Chee Dale

  • Parking: Miller’s Dale Car Park, Wormhill, Buxton SK17 8SN
  • What 3 words:   ///thighs.suddenly.tabs
  • No of spaces: 80 spaces
  • Cost:   up to 2 hours £2.50 and all day £4.00
  • Opening times:  9am – 6pm
  • Facilities:  Café, toilets, EV charging stations, picnic tables

Our Chee Dale Stepping Stones walk starts at the Miller’s Dale car park, behind the old railway station.  This is just off the B6049, between Wormhill and Blackwell in the Peak District.  It’s a pay and display car park, with good facilities and is really easy to find.

There’s a café in the old railway building at the station, which sells hot food and takeaway sandwiches and snacks.

Getting to the Chee Dale Stepping Stones

The Monsal Trail

Monsal Trail sign post, Derbyshire

The route to the stepping stones starts on the Monsal Trail, which you can access directly from the car park.

The Monsal Trail is a disused railway track, which used to transport passengers and freight between London and Manchester.  The railway closed in 1967.  However, in 1981, the Peak District National Park reopened it as the Monsal Trail, and it is now one of the most popular walking and cycling trails in the Peak District.

As it follows the old railway path, this section of the walk to Chee Dale is very flat and easy.

East Buxton Lime Kilns

Shortly into the walk, take a quick stop to explore the East Buxton Lime Kilns.  From 1880 until 1944, this enormous concrete structure housed lime kilns that produced over 50 tonnes of quicklime a day.  This was used to meet the demand from the steel and chemical industries.

Nowadays you can climb up inside the kiln to see what it would have looked like.  It only takes 5 minutes, so it’s worth stopping, especially if you have kids.  The kilns are home to various wildlife, including swifts and bats.  Take a torch, as it’s quite dark inside!

The tunnels

Railway tunnel walk on Monsal Trail, Peak District

Once you’ve seen the lime kilns, continue along the Monsal Trail.  Keep an eye out for cyclists, as this is also a popular cycle path.

You’ll cross the abseiling bridge and walk through the Chee Dale Tunnel, which is also fun if you have kids.

Ignore signs along the route which direct you down the hill to Chee Dale.

Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire

Brown wooden hut with trees in backround and gravel road in front. This is the Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire, Monsal Trail, Peak District

Continue along the Monsal Trail until you reach the Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire.  They have a refreshment kiosk here and picnic benches, so we stopped for a quick drink.

Now cross the river on the pretty, wooden bridge, and turn right onto the scenic river path (doubling back on yourself).  It is signposted to Chee Dale.

Follow the riverside path along the River Wye, keeping an eye out for herons, kingfishers, dippers, and wagtails.  We didn’t spot any, but did see some elegant mandarin ducks further along.

The Chee Dale Stepping Stones

Backs of people crossing the stepping stones under overhanging limestone cliff.

Follow the path, taking the steps down under the viaduct and continuing along by the river.

Eventually, you’ll reach the first set of Chee Dale Stepping Stones.  The stepping stones are fun to cross, but you should do so with caution, especially if the water level is high.

The stones are unusual because they don’t cross the river but follow parallel with the edge of the limestone cliffs.  In fact, they lead under an overhanging cliff.

You may have to wait if walkers are coming from the other direction.

Chee Dale Stepping Stones in River Wye with moss-covered cliff on left and fallen log to the right

Continue on the same track and you’ll come to the second set of Chee Dale stepping stones.

The route to Chee Dale Nature Reserve

River Wye on Chee Dale Circular Walk, Peak District

The section of walk after the stepping stones was more challenging than the first.  The terrain was uneven and rocky and involved some clambering over roots and boulders.

Also, as we were walking after a long period of heavy rain it was extremely muddy.  Although, there were some stretches of the path with boardwalks, the majority was just a a mud swamp!

Return on the Monsal Trail

A male and female duck on the river bank of the River Wye near Chee Dale Nature Reserve, Peak District

Once you get to the Chee Dale Nature Reserve, you could stop for a picnic.  Then, cross another bridge, climb up the hill and return to Miller’s Dale on the Monsal Trail.

You can see that it’s not the best walk to do after rain and not for everyone.  However, there’s so much to see on this walk, you can see why it’s one of the Peak District’s most popular walks.  We all loved it!

Top tips for the Chee Dale Stepping Stones walk

  • Wear sturdy, waterproof walking shoes or boots.  The terrain is uneven and can be wet.
  • The stepping stones can be slippery.
  • After heavy rain, the stepping stones may be submerged!
  • In summer, wear bug spray.
  • There are no toilet facilities (apart from at the start).
  • Phone signal is limited

Getting to Chee Dale

By car

The easiest way to get to the start of the Chee Dale Stepping Stones walk is by car.  Miller’s Dale is in the heart of the Peak District, about 8 miles from Bakewell.  It is less than 20 miles from Sheffield.

By public transport

You can take a bus from Buxton to Millers Dale car park, using line no 65 or 65a (in school holidays).

A short walk to the Chee Dale Stepping Stones

  • Parking:  Wye Dale car park (SK17 9TE)

If you don’t want to do the full circular walk, here is an alternative shorter out-and-back route for the Chee Dale Stepping Stones.

Park at the Wye Dale car park, which is opposite Topley Pike Aggregate Quarry entrance on the A6.  From here, take a 10-minute walk to Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire, then walk directly to the stones from here (using directions above).  You can then return the same way, rather than doing a circular walk.

You can also get a bus to this car park.

Read more of my guides to the Peak District

We'd love to hear from you!

Have you tried the Chee Dale Stepping Stones walk?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

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