The Chee Dale Circular walk is somewhat of a hidden gem in the Peak District National Park. It’s far less travelled than other walks in the area and incorporates not just one, but two sets of stepping stones. These are arguably better than other well-known stepping stones in the Peaks and can be enjoyed with much fewer crowds. The trail follows the River Wye for the majority of the walk which is serene and idyllic. You’ll be led under majestic archway bridges and pass a number of climbers scaling the edges of the gorge.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know ahead of this walk, including a trail map. We’ll also let you know what to expect on the day, and give you some top tips ahead of your trip. If you’ve not already decided on where to stay, you’ll also find some suggestions at the end of this guide.
CHEE DALE STEPPING STONES FAQ
WHAT IS CHEE DALE/CHEE DALE STEPPING STONES?
Chee Dale is a valley in the middle of the Peak District. It’s an area that’s filled with an impressive ravine, rugged limestone walls and a wealth of natural beauty. There are two sets of Chee Dale Stepping Stones, both of which are large pieces of stone that have been placed in the river and act as a bridge for walkers.
WHERE IS CHEE DALE/CHEE DALE STEPPING STONES IN THE PEAK DISTRICT?
Chee Dale Valley and Chee Dale Stepping Stones can be found on the edge of the Peak District Nation Park near Buxton.
The exact location can be found on the interactive map below.
BEST TIME TO DO WALK TO CHEE DALE STEPPING STONES
The best time to walk around Chee Dale is between April and October. This is when the weather should be dry and not too cold. If you prefer warm weather, then the optimal time is between June and August.
Regardless of which time you choose, this walk is lesser-known and so you shouldn’t need to worry about avoiding weekends or arriving before a certain time to secure a car parking space.
HOW TO GET THE CHEE DALE STEPPING STONES TRAILHEAD
As with almost any walk in the Peak District National Park, the quickest and easiest way to get to the trailhead is usually by car. This is certainly the case for this walk as the starting point is from a layby on the edge of the main road. It’s a large layby with space for approximately 30 cars.
Chee Dale Circular walk car park postcode: SK17 9TF
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Getting to the trailhead of this walk by public transport is impossible without having to add a lot more distance to the walk. However, it is possible to tweak the route slightly if you are reliant on public transport.
To do this, you’d need to catch the bus to Topley Pike and follow the trail beside the river to Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire. From here, you can join the Chee Dale Circular trail. However, you’d need to bear in mind that this would add another kilometre or so onto the walk.
CHEE DALE CIRCULAR WALK: KEY DETAILS
DISTANCE OF THE WALK
The total distance of this walk is 6.9 kilometres. This is an easy distance to cover for most and one that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
DURATION OF THE WALK
It takes most walkers between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours to complete this walk. However, this is for those who are pushing on and don’t stop to take a break. With so many great photo opportunities and perfect picnic spots, you may want to factor in additional time.
ELEVATION OF THE WALK
The total elevation of this walk is 273 meters. This is relatively low in comparison to other walks in the Peak District. However, this elevation is covered in one small section of the walk that leads up a very steep hill.
DIFFICULTY OF THE WALK
This walk is classed as an easy walk in the Peaks and is either downhill or flat for almost all of the way. As we just mentioned, there is one hill which is tough. It’s very steep and will almost certainly leave you breathless, however, it doesn’t last long. This is a manageable section of the walk and shouldn’t put you off exploring the area.
CHEE DALE CIRCULAR WALK: WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE DAY OF YOUR
HEADING INTO CHEE DALE VALLEY
The walk begins by following a steep descent along a wide gravel trail. It quickly crosses paths with the well-known Monsal trail – a route which is popular among cyclists.
Once you’ve passed the cycle hire shop, the route quickly finds the River Wye and a set of toy-like houses which line the water. You’ll need to cross the bridge in order to continue along the trail that hugs the river before arriving at an impressive arched bridge.
FINDING THE FIRST CHEE DALE STEPPING STONES
As you continue on, you’ll follow the river for quite some time before finding your first set of stepping stones. This is the first time you’ll feel as though you are in a gorge, as the stone walls encapsulate the river and lean outwards to create a roof over the stepping stones.
This is also the point where you’ll begin to notice multiple hooks hanging on the edges of the large and rocky walls. On a pleasant day, you’ll also see a few people climbing.
FINDING THE SECOND CHEE DALE STEPPING STONES
After an undulating section of the walk, you’ll quickly find the second set of stepping stones. In our opinion, these are even better than the first as they wrap around the wall and go on for quite some time. Yet, the best bit about these stepping stones is that you don’t have to queue or try and cross at the same time as someone else. You’ll likely have them all to yourself.
FROM TINY BRIDGES TO GRAND ARCHWAYS
Once you’ve spent some time hopping around the stepping stones and admiring the stunning gorge, you’ll reach a point where you’ll begin to take a short ascent. You’ll cross a small wooden bridge that leads towards a narrow trail. After just a few steps, you’ll discover the next grand archway bridge towering above. Shortly afterwards, you’ll reach another small wooden bridge. This is the perfect viewing platform to admire the grand bridge with the River Wye gushing below.
THROUGH THE FOREST AND TO THE PICNIC SPOT
The next section of the walk leads through a stunning woodland area. It requires some hoping over trickling streams and balancing along wooden beams, as well as small climbs here and there. Once you’ve conquered these, the trees soon clear and you will arrive at a lovely open space by the river. This is the perfect place to stop for a picnic before you embark on the steepest section of the walk.
A BRIEF ASCENT, THROUGH THE FIELDS AND BACK TO THE CAR PARK
It’s then time for a steep ascent. This will almost certainly feel tough on the legs, however, it lasts no longer than a few minutes if you push through the pain.
Once you’ve made it to the top of the hill, you’ll head on a gentle stroll across a number of fields, often with grazing sheep.
Before long, you’ll reach a small country road. This signifies that you’re on the home straight back to the car park. You’ll need to follow this road and cross one more field, before joining the original trail back to the car park.
CHEE DALE WALK ROUTE MAP
To access the route map, we’d suggest downloading AllTrails. This is our go-to platform when it comes to navigating our way around a walk as you’re able to download the map ahead of time.
Chee Dale Gorge Circular Walk: route map
TIPS FOR WALKING TO CHEE DALE STEPPING STONES
WEAR WATERPROOF SHOES
Since this walk hugs the River Wye for most of the way, it goes without saying that if it’s been raining a lot, this trail will be muddy. We’d always recommend a decent pair of hiking boots, but given the fact this walk is quite short and isn’t very technical, you would be fine to wear wellingtons if you need to.
GO WILD SWIMMING
If you fancy a wild swim, then the River Wye is the perfect spot. You’ll be inundated with opportunities along the trail. And, if you’re hiking on a hot day, this will be a welcome moment of refreshment.
COMBINE WITH SOME ROCK CLIMBING
A lot of the trail along this walk is enclosed by large limestone walls which you’ll notice are littered with hooks for climbing. Anyone who owns the correct climbing gear is free to latch onto these to test and improve their skills. You’ll notice a few people giving this a bash, but fortunately, you won’t find the same levels of people as you do elsewhere.
ALTERNATIVE CAR PARKS
As the car park for this walk is a large layby, there are only so many spaces available. If you need to find an alternative place to park, then you can try Wyedale Car Park. From here, you will need to walk to Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire in order to join the trail.
FACILITIES ON THE CHEE DALE CIRCULAR WALK
Facilities are limited on this trail and as such, you’ll need to likely want to ensure you’ve packed enough to drink and eat before starting this walk. However, if you do forget, then the Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire also has a small shop to pick up a few bits.
WHERE TO STAY NEAR CHEE DALE STEPPING STONES
Buxton is the obvious place to stay if you’re looking to explore the Chee Dale Valley and its surrounding areas as it is extremely close. It’s not technically in the Peak District, however, it sits just on the edges and looks exactly like it belongs there. You’ll find a great atmosphere in Buxton and plenty of places to eat and drink.
Bakewell is one of the most popular villages in the Peak District and it’s well-known for one thing in particular – Bakewells – both the tart and the cake! Besides that, it’s a bustling village that always has something going on. Despite its size, there are plenty of quaint coffee shops and independent restaurants to enjoy. Alternatively, there are more than enough benches by the river to enjoy some fish and chips.
EXPLORE BEYOND CHEE DALE
If you like the sound of this Chee Dale Circular walk that leads to some incredible stepping stones, then we think you’ll also enjoy some of the other great walks nearby. You’ll find heaps of walks in the Peak District across our website, however, below are some of our favourites which are similar to this one.
- Padley Gorge walk / a gentle walk through a magical gorge with plenty of wild swimming spots
- Dovedale Stepping Stones circular walk / an easy walk to the famous Dovedale Stepping Stones in the Peak District
- Lud’s Church walk / an easy walk to an awe-inspiring chasm thats steeped in history
- Shining Tor walk / a diverse walk through the stunning Goyt Valley
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