A walk to the mystical Padley Gorge in the Peak District

by Jan

Padley Gorge is a magical place with mesmerising scenery and was one of our favourite walks in the Peak District.  This woodland walk features a deep valley, twisted trees, mossy boulders, and waterfalls – it really does have it all!

It’s not the most challenging of the Peak District walks but is certainly one of the most unique.

Come with us to discover everything you need to know for a circular walk to Padley Gorge in Derbyshire.  In our complete guide to visiting Padley Gorge in the Peak District, we’ll share 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 Padley Gorge?

Let’s start by describing Padley Gorge.

Padley Gorge is a deep-sided river gorge in the Peak District in Derbyshire.  The valley cuts through a picturesque ancient oak woodland, which provides a stunning landscape for walkers, photographers and nature-lovers.    Just 10 miles from Sheffield this is a fairy-tale location, that you must visit if you’re in the Peak District.

Overview of the Padley Gorge circular walk (4.5 miles)

  • Start: Longshaw Estate Car Park
  • Distance:   4.5 miles (7.25 km)
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty:  moderate (physically challenging in parts)
  • Terrain:  uneven surfaces with roots, boggy, steps, stiles, a few inclines (not accessible)
  • Refreshments:  2 cafés (with toilets)

How long is the Padley Gorge circular walk?

Our circular walk at Padley Gorge is 4.5 miles (7km).  You could do a shorter out and back walk at Padley Gorge, or extend it by taking a hike to Surprise View.  This is a popular viewpoint with stunning views across Hathersage.

Parking for Padley Gorge

  • Parking: Longshaw Estate car park, Grindleford, Sheffield S11 7TZ
  • Cost:   £5 (or free for National Trust members)
  • Opening times:  dawn to dusk (car park)
  • Facilities:  Visitor Centre with maps (9am – 5.30pm), café, toilets, second hand books

Our Padley Gorge circular walk starts at the Longshaw Estate, a former grouse shooting estate, now managed by the National Trust.  This is just off the A6187 between Sheffield and Hathersage.

The car park is free for members and is really easy to find, though can get busy at peak times.  Signposts from the road will take you to the main Woodcroft car park.

Step 1 - Start from Longshaw Estate

From the car park, walk towards the Visitor Centre, where you can take a photo of the estate map.  There are three routes from Longshaw, of different lengths and challenge.  Go pass the Visitor Centre and café and follow the pink arrows across the parkland.

Once you emerge at Granby Discovery Barn, cross the road (B6521), pass through a wooden gate, and follow the path.

Step 2 - Burbage Brook

Waterfall at Burbage Brook, Padley Gorge

From here, descend the steps heading in the direction of the wooden footbridge, which crosses the picturesque Burbage Brook.

Burbage Brook is an upper tributary of the River Derwent and is a real beauty spot.  You’ll want to stop for some photos and even a paddle if it’s sunny.  Plus, there are huge boulders in the water  which form stepping stones if you want to cross!

This brook is a popular area for families, who can enjoy picnics and paddling here.

Step 3 - Padley Gorge

Next, once you’re across the bridge, turn left and follow the path keeping the stream on your left.  You are now in the part of Yarncliff Wood, known as Padley Gorge.

moss-covered trees and boulders at Padley Gorge

With its curly trees, gnarly roots and moss covered-boulders Padley Gorge has an otherworldly beauty.   It really is a breathtaking landscape and one of our favourite places to visit in the Peak District.

water at Burgabe brook, with large boulders and moss-covered trees at Padley Gorge

Padley Gorge is one of the best examples of ancient oak-birch woodland in the Peak District and provides a unique wildlife-rich habitat.  It’s a mesmerising, serene area for walking.

Follow the path through the woods, keeping parallel with the water on your left.  The route is easy to follow, but the terrain is uneven and can be muddy.

Although it’s a stunning area, we hardly saw any people once we’d passed the bridge at start.

As well as natural beauty, Padley Gorge is also of historical significance.   Keep an eye out for old millstones laying around, as well as the former dynamite store.  Hidden amongst the ferns, this old building was built to store gunpowder for Bole Hill Quarry, which produced the stone for the Derwent and Howden Dams.

Stone Wall, Padley Gorge

Of course, you might want to extend your walk.  So, look out for the signpost to Surprise View and Bolehill Quarry on your right.

Grindleford Station

Grindleford Station Cafe, Padley Gorge

Eventually, you’ll leave the woods and reach a gate.  From here, go through the gate and follow the small lane until you reach Grindleford Station Café.  Here you can stop for a refreshment break.  Grindleford Café is a busy café serving breakfast, cooked food, and snacks.

If you’re coming by train, you would start your walk here.  Furthermore, if you want a shorter walk, you could turn back here and retrace your steps through the woods.

Step 4 - Return to Longshaw Estate

However, to continue the circular walk, turn left out of the café and take the steps immediately after the building.

At the top, walk about 10 metres to the left, cross the main road (B6521) and take the public footpath up the hill.  This is a short climb through woodland and several kissing gates.  You’ll have another waterfall on the right.

Gate in Stone Wall, Padley Gorge

It’s an uphill walk to start before the path emerges on wild open moorland.

The Eastern Moors is a far more remote, rugged landscape. It’s rich in wildlife and a brilliant area for nature watching.  Free roaming deer were spying on us from a distance and birds of prey circled overhead.

Finally, you’ll reach the path that leads back through parkland to Longshaw Estate.  The path joins the blue route, which is signposted back to the Visitor Centre.

Top tips for the Padley Gorge circular walk

  • Wear sturdy, waterproof walking shoes or boots.
  • The terrain is uneven and can be muddy and wet after heavy rain.
  • It is not suitable for buggies or pushchairs.
  • In summer, wear bug spray.
  • Phone signal is limited in the woods.

Getting to Padley Gorge

By car

The easiest way to get to the start of the Padley Gorge circular walk is by car.  The Longshaw Estate is in the heart of the Peak District, about 3 miles from Hathersage.  It is about 8 miles from Sheffield.

By train

The nearest train station is Grindleford, our mid-way point.  It would be really easy to come by train and start from here.  Regular, direct trains run from Grindleford to Sheffield and take less than 20 minutes.

By bus

If you’re coming by bus, alight at the Fox House, which is a short walk from Longshaw.  Bus services run from Sheffield and the Peak District.

Read more of my guides to the Peak District

We'd love to hear from you!

Have you been to Padley Gorge?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

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