OS grid ref:- SK170659
A Peak District beauty spot in the truest sense of the word, Lathkill Dale, one of Britain's finest limestone valleys, is situated about 3 miles from the historic market town of Bakewell. The name derives from the Old Norse 'hlatha-gyll', which means barn in a narrow valley'.
The steep sided dale begins at Monyash as a shallow dry riverbed and runs some 5km west-east to the picturesque village of Alport. The dale features beautiful broadleaved woodland, grasslands, rock outcrops and scree, waterfalls, caves, historic mining remains and a range of wildlife habitats.
The River Lathkill is one of the Peak District’s finest trout fishing rivers. The river rises from the ground at Lathkill Head Cave about half a mile down the valley from Monyash. Below Over Haddon water bubbles up from swallet holes to flow into deep pools known locally as The Blue Waters. The water in the river is usually unusually clear, and Charles Cotton wrote in The Compleat Angler that it is: “ ... by many degrees, the purest and most transparent stream that I ever saw, either at home or abroad, and breeds, it is said, the reddest and best Trouts in England.
The upper part of the dale is a National Nature Reserve, owned by English Nature and can be accessed via several paths. The reserve is famous for its large variety of wild flowers, which include germander speedwell, vetch, cowslips, pink campion, greater stitchwort, lady's bedstraw, common rock rose, the beautiful early purple orchid and the rare, blue-flowered Jacobs Ladder (pictured below left). There are several Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s), whilst birds of prey include buzzards, kestrels and goshawks. Dippers, wagtails, voles and even kingfishers can be sighted on the banks of the river.
Below Lathkill Head Cave the valley widens and further down is joined from the south by Cales Dale, where the the remains of an old sheepwash can be seen which was still in use up until the 1940s.
The medieval Conksbury Bridge (OS Grid ref- SK211656) carries the road from Bakewell to Youlgreave, the old packhorse bridge stands beside a quaint summer house and fish breeding pools owned by the Rutland Estate at nearby Haddon Hall.
The dale has a history of lead mining, and among the trees on the north side of the valley can be seen the remains of the Mandale Mine, which dates to the nineteenth century and includes an old aqueduct and the ruined pump house.
Ricklow Quarry contains 360 million year old fossils. The quarry was worked for a stone called ' Derbyshire Grey marble', which was used to make some of the fireplaces at Chatsworth House. The view down the dale from the top of the Ricklow Quarry steps is one of the finest.
Car parks are provided at at Over Haddon, Moor Lane, Youlgrave and Conksbury Bridge
A walk to Lathkill Dale from Monyash
Distance- Around 4 miles
Duration- 2.5 hours
*Commencing at Fere Mere in the village of Monyash, proceed down Rakes Road to the left. On reaching a sharp right bend in the road turn left and walk down down Derby Lane. At a further sharp right bend continue straight on and go down the track.
*Continue down the track to reach One Ash Grange Farm and follow the footpath through the farm. Go through a small opening in the wall to enter a field, head east across the field and cross a stile and descend into Cales Dale. Continue along the track until reaching a junction with the Cales Dale path.
*Turn left and follow the track to Lathkill Dale. On reaching the valley bottom cross over the bridge and turn left, then proceed in a north westerly direction.
*The path will eventually rise, crossing a few fields before reaching a road. Cross the road and continue into Bagshaw Dale. Follow the dale until reaching a lane to return to Monyash.