20130806-B_Alstonefield-Wetton-Thor’s Cave Circular Walk.
2nd Half – Thor’s Cave to Alstonefield via Wetton and Hope Dale.
When : 6th August 2013 Who : Me and my family
Where : The Peak District, White Peak Area, Staffordshire (I think) roughly between Ashbourne and Buxton.
Start + End Point : SK 132,556
Full Circular Walk Distance : Only Approx 5.25 miles (8.5 km)
(Thor’s Cave – Alstonefield, via Wetton and Hope Dale : Approx 2.75 miles (4.5km))
Significant heights : See end of 2nd half diary for details.
Map : Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map OL 24 The Peak District White Peak Area.
Summary : Not a long walk, but with lots of interest, taking in two villages, a country pub (or two depending on timings), a cave to explore and fantastic views over The Manifold Valley …. Oh and lots of opportunity to extend the walk if you want.
If you click on a pic’ it should hopefully launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream – At least I hope so because I’m trying a new way of attaching the images.
This post is the 2nd time for this method – Please let me know if it works?
This is the follow-up diary to the 1st half of the walk, where we’d walked from the charming village of Alstonefield, passing through the smaller village of Wetton to reach Thor’s Cave spectacularly situated above The Manifold Valley.
So, if you’ve found this diary first, you might like to dip into the first half diary before continuing with this one …..
Well, as interesting as Thor’s Cave is and as beautiful as the views over The Manifold Valley certainly are; all good things must come to an end, and we knew it was time to move on when we were enveloped by a large party of Cub-Scouts, Leaders and Helpers, who were, I discovered in conversation, camping quite nearby. Not that I have any problem with Scouting, it’s a splendid and arguably very under-valued and historic organisation in the fabric of our society. Nope, it was time to move-on purely because of the space limitations. We’d seen what we came to see (and the noise levels had increased somewhat too, to be honest), so we moved off, retracing our steps, at first descending on the main path and then branching right on the smaller path we’d come on earlier.
- Small path skirting the hillside (lots of path-side flowers),
- Cross the wall to re-join Thor’s Lane (track),
- Up the track, rising steadily, all the way to the road (avoiding the imaginary beasts),
- Road walking along School Lane (saying hello to the hens again, still free ranging),
- Down past the church, through the graveyard,
- And, arrival at the benches on the green (for another short break).
From here there was a little more road walking, heading along Buxton Road briefly, turning first right into a side road, to meet another minor village road (The Mires ?), crossing over to pick up a footpath across a few small fields and then emerging onto the slightly larger Ashbourne Road. Just down the way, near the junction with Ewe Dale Lane, we crossed to pick up another footpath heading out onto rich grassy pastureland. This felt quite a departure from the tracks and roads recently followed; I do like being off-roads on a country walk. We were now heading roughly south (well a little east of south) and, after crossing several fields reached yet another minor road, this one oddly named “Wall Ditch”. This we crossed straight over to follow another similar path crossing more fields until turning left (at a cross-road of footpaths) dropping down to Stanshope Lane. Again, we crossed straight over the road, where the terrain changed again.
A pretty little dry-valley dropped ahead of us swinging attractively first to the left and then to the right, dropping into a larger part of the valley of Hopedale. Although easy going in the dale itself the valley sides were steep and useful only for grazing sheep.
We were on this path for a very short time, before meeting another minor road (attractively called Hope Dale Hollow) where we turned right. We were quite taken by some small furry black and white cattle here-abouts. Not the normal run-of-the mill Holstein Friesian black and whites seen in dairy herds, no these little cattle were coloured with black front and back ends and a broad single white band round the middle (young Belted Galloway or Belties perhaps ?).
A very short distance further on we came upon a picture perfect cottage (a large one at that) with a superb cottage garden. It really encapsulated the image of an English country cottage, and, with the charming and very accurate name of Dale Bottom.
Well, we’d had it easy, heading downhill for some time, but that was about to change. Just past Dale Bottom we had to turn left onto a path rising up the side/through some scrubby woodland. I say rising, it really is quite steep, not a very long section, but the contours on the map are so close together they kind of merge into a single brown splodge. It was a case of putting head down, taking several deep breaths, and putting in a bit of work! Although strenuous, it didn’t take long to emerge above the scrubby area into much gentler but still rising pasture land.
We were back in the land of grassy fields bounded by dry-stone walls and with our destination, Alstonefield, in the distance. The final few fields (passing near the church off to our right) were easy, the gradient diminishing as we went and all of a sudden we were back at the village green, near the car, where-upon we changed foot-wear and headed off to our digs for the night; The Navigation Inn, at Bugsworth Basin, Buxworth, Near Chinley (roughly mid-way between Chapel-en-le-Frith and Whaley Bridge.
And finally, some info, about the amount of “climbing” done on the whole walk, by “climbing” I really mean the noticeable ups – as roughly measured by counting contours on the map. So:
Alstonefield to Wetton :- Alstonefield is at about 280m above sea level and Wetton at 300m, so a nett gain of only about 20m. However, there is some undulation in the countryside between the two villages with the most significant uphill bit from Windledale Hollow up to Wetton being approx’ 60m height gained, but it’s over a reasonable distance so not at all steep really.
Wetton to Thor’s Cave :- Thor’s lane is all downhill and then once over the wall at the end of the track t the ground is a bit uneven/roughish and with some uphill gradient as the path skirts around the hillside to join the path climbing steeply out of the Manifold Valley, with a final little rise up to Thor’s Cave.
Thor’s Cave itself :- A bit of an uphill scrabble to gain access to the cave, and then a negotiation back down again. More slippy-slidey than controlled descent when the rock is wet.
Thor’s Cave to Wetton :- This is now a repeat of the notes above, to get back to and rejoin Thor’s Lane (Track), more down than up. Then a steady uphill bit along the lane gaining about 30m in height by the time Wetton village is reached.
Wetton to Hope Dale :- Gently undulating country, mostly down-hill, to reach the final easy drop into Hope Dale.
Hope Dale at Dale Bottom to Alstonefield :- The first section is steep, approx 55m height gained to reach the top of the scrub wooded area, and the another 25m of height up to Alstonefield village with the gradient easing rapidly, the final bit being almost level.
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.