The Limestone Way takes you through the heart of the White Peak in the Peak District, exploring a landscape of picturesque dales, rolling hills, and wildflower meadows lined with drystone walls.
Starting from Castleton, in Derbyshire, the Way travels 46 miles (74 km) through the southern part of the Peak District National Park to Rocester village, just over the county boundary in Staffordshire.
For its entirety, the trail explores quintessential limestone countryside at its best. Expect patchwork pastures separated by crumbling walls, deep dales that are rich in beauty and wildlife, traditional villages, pretty woodlands, and grasslands that burst into colour as wildflowers blossom.
Along the way, you explore spellbinding scenery and sights, including: Peveril Castle, one of England's earliest Norman fortresses; Nine Stones Close, a Bronze Age stone circle; and Robin Hood’s Stride, a rock formation that is rich in folklore. You also visit some stunning dales, including Cave Dale, Monk's Dale, Bradford Dale, and Dovedale.
Whilst there are no mountains to climb, this is classic hillwalking and can be tough-going at times. The trail, which is waymarked, can also be quite rugged in places. As such, you will need an average-to-good level of ability and fitness to tackle the route.
In this Collection, I split the route into three stages; 13.9 miles (22.4 km), 16.8 miles (27 km), and 17.5 miles (28.2 km), respectively. Now, that is an ambitious itinerary. However, it is manageable, especially during summer. On stages 2 and 3, I have given advice on how to shorten/split the hikes.
As ever, you can divide the Collection into as many days as you are comfortable with or walk any single stage.
You are relatively well-served by accommodation along the route. However, places to stay can be limited so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling your rest days accordingly.
To get to the start of the trail, you can catch a train to Hope, which is served by direct trains from Sheffield and Manchester, and then jump on the 173 or 271/272 bus service to Castleton.
To get home, you would need to catch the Swift bus service from Rocester to Derby, which has good public transport links, including direct trains to London and Sheffield.
For the bus 173 service, visit: bustimes.org/services/173-castleton-tideswell-litton-bakewell.
For the 271/272 bus service, visit: travelsouthyorkshire.com/timetables/sheffield/796.htm.
For the Swift bus service, visit: trentbarton.co.uk/services/swift/timetable.
This first stage leads from the striking remains of Peveril Castle through classic limestone scenery composed of dales and patchwork fields. With 13.9 miles (22.4 km) of distance and 1,600 feet (488 m) of uphill, including some steep climbs, this is a challenging hike but should be manageable. The trail begins from Castleton, in the shadow of Mam Tor and the stunning medieval ruins of Peveril Castle.You hike through Cave Dale, which was a coral reef 350 million years ago, and emerge into open pastures. The trail reaches a high point at Starvehouse Mine and then descends gradually.A short while after Hay Dale Nature Reserve, you enter Monk’s Dale, which affords more quintessential limestone countryside; wildflower meadows and natural woodlands set within a charismatic dale.You descend to meet the River Wye at Miller’s Dale, where the Angler’s Rest may tempt you for a mid-point pub-stop.West of Taddington, you pass close to Five Wells Neolithic Chambered Cairn, a worthy detour should you fancy.The final section of the hike is a leisurely descent through peaceful meadows; through the village of Flagg and onto finish in the village of Monyash, which has accommodation options, a pub that serves food, a cafe, and a shop.
On this hike, you visit a Bronze Age stone circle, see the huge rock pillars that Robin Hood once leapt across, and experience fine views over the rolling Derbyshire Dales.With 16.8 miles (27 km) of distance and 1,800 feet (549 m) of climbing over an unforgiving up/down terrain, this is a tough hike. (For a suggestion on how to split the hike, see below).From Monyash, the trail takes you through meadows above Lathkill Dale and then drops steeply into the atmospheric Bradford Dale, which you follow to the village of Youlgreave.You then rise through farmland and a small woodland to reach the enchanting Nine Stones Close, the tallest of all the Peak District's Stone Circles, which dates to the Bronze Age.A short step later you find the breathtaking Robin Hood’s Stride, Cratcliffe Rocks, and the curious Hermit's Cave, complete with its 4 foot (1.2 m) high carved crucifixion.You drop to the road and rise through countryside past Winster, which makes a good choice for a pub-stop. If you want to split the hike, the village also has accommodation, places to eat and drink, and a shop.The trail reaches a high point near Blakelow Hill, descends past Bonsall and climbs to finish in the village of Brassington, which has some accommodation and a pub that serves food.
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Rural idyll, riverside bliss, wildflower meadows, and wildlife-rich woodlands combine on this stunning final stage.With 17.5 miles (28.2 km) of distance and 1,275 feet (389 m) of climbing, this is a very challenging hike. As there is more downhill than up, though, and a gently-undulating terrain, the miles might not feel as hard as you think. (For advice on how to shorten/split the route, see below).From Brassington, the trail heads west over farmland, past Parwich, and then skirts south to Tissington.Shortly before the village of Thorpe, a good choice for a pit stop, this hike takes a detour to see the delights of Dovedale; complete with ash woodland, wildflower grassland, crystal-clear river water, stepping stones, and caves to explore. You rejoin the trail below Thorpe, cross the River Dove via Coldwall Bridge and then climb steeply out of the valley.The trail reaches a high point at Woodhouses and then descends through Harlow Wood, Stanton Wood, Dyson Wood, and Gold’s Wood.You skirt Ellastone and continue to Rocester, where this stage and the Limestone Way finishes. Rocester has some accommodation, options for food and drink, as well as shops and other attractions. A simple way to shorten this hike is to miss the Dovedale detour, which shaves-off 1.2 miles (1.9 km). If you want to split the hike, Thorpe is a good choice as it has accommodation, places to eat and drink, and is roughly halfway.