Lathjill Dale forms part of the Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve and lies within the Peak District National Park. The Reserve consists of five separate limestone valleys Lathkill, Cressbrook, Monk's, Long and Hay. These five dales represent some of the best examples of wildlife and geology in the White Peak.
How to get there
We encourage visitors to use environmentally friendly forms of transport. If walking, the Limestone Way and Monsal Trail run through or close to the NNR.
The Peak District is served by sections of the National Cycle Network.
The nearest train stations are in Buxton, served by Northern Rail, and Matlock served by Central Trains.
For details of local bus services go to the Derbyshire County Council website.
Lathkill Dale is situated 3.2 km south west of Bakewell, between the villages of Over Haddon, Monyash and Youlgreave. There are car parks at Over Haddon and Moor Lane, Youlgreave.
Cressbrook Dale is situated 11.3 km north of Bakewell, between the villages of Wardlow and Litton. There are car parks at Upperdale in Monsal Dale, Monsal Head, Tideswell Dale and Ravensdale.
Monk's Dale is situated 14.5 km north west of Bakewell. The nearest car park is at Miller's Dale station.
Long Dale is situated 9.7 km south of Bakewell, near the village of Elton. There are car parks at Minninglow, Friden and Elton.
Hay Dale is situated 13 km north west of Bakewell, between the villages of Wheston and Peak Forest. The nearest car park is at Miller's Dale station.
There are Youth Hostels at Bakewell, Youlgreave, Elton, Ravenstor (near Tideswell), Hartington and Buxton, as well as camping barns and campsites.
What to see
Lathkill Dale has its river with many dippers, spectacular views, fine woods and a great display of blue-flowered Jacob's ladder in June.
Lathkill's top sights:
The view down the dale from the top of Ricklow Quarry steps
The hay meadows in June
Lathkill Head Cave in full winter flood
Dippers-visitors can't fail to see them on the river
The deep, dark mineshaft under Bateman's House
360 million year old fossils in Ricklow Quarry
The clearest water-try the top end of Carter's Millpond
The woods in early May
Advice for nature photographers of Dipper nesting sites, Dipper nesting sites have become increasingly popular with photographers over recent years. A leaflet has been produced to advise photographers of best practice at the sites, particularly during the nesting period which runs from March to May. It is available from Natural England.
And how to see them:
There is a track running from the lane below Over Haddon to Carter's Mill. The track is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs (as is the gate by Over Haddon Mill) although the surfaced lane leading to it from the village is steep. The track follows the river upstream through the woods and towards Carter's Mill, passing Bateman's House and other lead mine remains along the way. It is often walked as a there-and-back route from Over Haddon.
Easy walking in from the Monyash end of the Dale (where there are toilets) with a spring and summer option of taking a detour through the hay meadows. The route gets a little trickier in Ricklow Quarry before the main Dale is reached, with Jacob’s ladder to be found and the Head Cave several hundred metres further on.
Take a detour through Ricklow Quarry from one of the nearby paths. See the fossils and take in the view from the top of the steep flight of steps.
Cross the Dale from north to south by crossing Cales Dale footbridge, climbing up to One Ash Grange and following the paths round to Monyash.
The Reserve can be traversed west to east (or vice versa) in about an hour and a half at a fast pace.
Most of the open dalesides in the Reserve are Access Land where one can walk freely, but please cross boundaries carefully, preferably at stiles or gates.
Dogs should be kept under close control at all times - especially when there are sheep grazing - and should never be encouraged to enter the river.
Cressbrook Dale has steeper paths, leading you from ash woods to a turf landscape dotted with rockrose and alive with butterflies and moths, broken by rocky outcrops and screes. Monk's Dale is a wilder prospect, needing more effort to reach its inner sanctum, but well worth that exertion. Hay and Long Dales are small and make a great trip for naturalists looking for limestone flowers and insects.