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Peak District Walks

Lathkill Dale

Date: 11th June 2015
Distance: 8.7 miles
Ascent: 1181 feet
Time: 3 hours 20 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SK212644

Walk Summary:
A wonderful walk in the White Peak from Youlgrave along the length of the valley of Lathkill Dale before returning via the Limestone Way.

Route Summary: Youlgrave - Conksbury - Conksbury Bridge - Lathkill Dale - One Ash Grange Farm - Cales Dale - Calling Low - Low Moor Plantation - Limestone Way - Youlgrave

Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

All Saints' Church in Youlgrave
Pastures outside Youlgrave
Pastures outside Youlgrave
The River Lathkill
A swan on the River Lathkill
A series of small weirs on the River Lathkill
The first of a few caves I came across alongside the river
Buttercups and red campion was in plentiful supply on the riverbank
The broad path through the woods alongside the River Lathkill
A nice little waterfall on the River Lathkill
My first glimpse of one of the limestone scars above Lathkill Dale
The lovely River Lathkill
Past the side valley of Cales Dale the trees thin out and one can begin to really enjoy the limestone scenery of Lathkill Dale
Limestone outcrop above Lathkill Dale
The limestone flanks of Lathkill Dale
Limestone scar in Lathkill Dale
Lathkill Dale is one of the few places the Jacob's Ladder can be found growing in the wild
Looking back along Lathkill Dale, Jacob's Ladder can be seen in the foreground
Another view back in the upper reaches of Lathkill Dale
Limestone scar at the head of Lathkill Dale
Looking over the upper reaches of Lathkill Dale as I finally climbed out of the valley
The cave containing a nativity scene at One Ash Grange Farm
The return to Youlgrave largely followed the route of the Limestone Way
Dropping down below a limestone scar in to Cales Dale
The steep steps climbing up the other side of Cales Dale
A last look back down in to Lathkill Dale
Entering Low Moor Wood
The Limestone Way heading out of Low Moor Wood
There was no missing the path on this section of the Limestone Way
The Youth Hostel in Youlgrave

Walk Detail: This walk was the second of three walks that I did on an ambitious day of walking whilst visiting the southern half of the Peak District, an area I don't normally get to visit as it is too far to drive there and back in a day from where I live. Having enjoyed a super walk from Eyam over in to Bretton Clough earlier in the day I drove to Youlgrave, where I was staying that night in the youth hostel, and which was also conveniently the starting point for a route visiting Lathkill Dale.

Parking outside the school in Youlgrave I walked through the churchyard before leaving the village along the quiet lane heading for the small hamlet of Conksbury. From Conksbury I dropped down to Conksbury Bridge to reach the River Lathkill. The next four miles of the walk was a simple case of following the path on the north bank of the river deeper and deeper into the valley.

Upon reaching the river I was immediately struck by how clear the water was, indeed it has to be the clearest river I've yet come across. Although very different to the upper reaches of the valley these early stages were quite lovely, the broad path following closely to the river the attractiveness of which was enhanced by a set of weirs.

Between Conksbury Bridge and the footbridge below Over Haddon the riverside path was quite popular but as I continued west from the footbridge I would meet fewer and fewer people. Over the course of the next section I came across some small caves alongside the path, one of them unfortunately was full of empty beer cans. I'd chosen what was probably the warmest day of the year for this walk and the clear waters of the river looked very inviting. However, with regular signs asking people not to go in to the water in order to protect the local population of white-clawed crayfish, I had to restrain myself.

Eventually the woods began to thin and I began to catch glimpses of limestone outcrops on the steep flanks above me. Then, upon reaching the footbridge leading in to the side valley of Cales Dale, the wood finally came to an end and I commenced the finest section of the walk as Lathkill Dale increasingly narrows into a high-sided limestone gorge. Unbeknownst to me prior to this walk Lathkill Dale is one of the few places that Jacob's Ladder can be found growing in the wild and by happy chance I'd timed my visit to the best time of year to see them in flower.

Continuing on from the valley's colony of Jacob's Ladder I passed the remains of Ricklow Quarry before taking a path doubling back up above the limestone slopes before turning south to join the Limestone Way to the west of One Ash Grange Farm. An interesting but rather random feature of the latter was a small cave which contained a nativity scene!

The return was a simple walk back to Youlgrave along the Limestone Way. The only major obstacle en route being the descent and immediate climb back out of Cales Dale on steep stone steps - very tiring towards the end of my second walk on a hot summer's day! Perhaps the highlight of the return was a final view back down in to Lathkill Dale just before reaching the farm at Calling Low.

Prior to this walk almost all of my previous walks in the Peak District had been in the areas dominated by gritstone and so this was my first experience of one of the White Peak's limestone valleys. I have to say I loved it. Lathkill Dale was beautiful and very different in feel to the limestone areas I know further north in the Yorkshire Dales. Now I need to start planning a visit to the likes of Chee Dale, Monsal Dale, Cressbrook Dale and Dove Dale!

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