Please note that one of the Hathersage Stepping Stones is dislodged. They are passable, but can be tricky for little legs. Also, after heavy rainfall and often in the winter months, the stepping stones are submerged and impassable. This walk is one to save for when water levels are low and there has been a dry spell.
Hathersage stepping stones, one of the main three Peak District stepping stones, sees a fraction of the tourist numbers at Dovedale stepping stones, but they are just as fun. It is also a lovely spot for the kids to have a paddle (a little further downstream). Plus this walk is accessible from Hathersage railway station for those arriving on public transport.
This circular Peak District family walk from the centre of Hathersage is easy-going and relatively flat. The first section keeps passing under and around the railway line, and you should spot trains chugging past between Manchester and Sheffield. Then this walk follows the footpaths along the River Derwent, through shady trees backed by open fields.
The stepping stones themselves are a little trickier than the Dovedale ones, so take care if you’re unsteady on your feet; small kids (under 5s) will need a helping hand as their legs aren’t quite long enough to reach across to each stone, and parents carrying little ones in back carriers will need good balance!
With Stanage Edge in the backdrop and following along the River Derwent, it’s a very pretty walk, and the reward at the end is a hot chocolate in one of Hathersage’s cafes! Or you may want to make a little detour to The Plough Inn before the final stretch back into Hathersage village (although meals are on the pricey side).
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If you are planning a visit to the National Park, please arrive early or late in the day to avoid crowds if visiting over sunny weekends or school holidays. Please also take all litter home with you, don’t bring BBQs and park your car in designated parking areas. Also, please use these walks as a guide; access and stiles may change.
During the winter months, it’s important to be extra prepared and safe when out walking and adventuring in the Peak District. The weather can change so quickly, especially on the exposed escarpments, and we don’t want you to get caught out.
Read our top tips for safe winter walking with the kids.
PARKING INFORMATION: Please do not rely solely on the postcode for parking directions. In the National Park, a postcode can cover a large area. Postcodes are only provided as guidance. Please either use the Google Maps point provided for every walk, or what3words.
Do check out our top tips for hiking with young kids, as well as our essential items to take on a family hike in the Peak District.
Download and print out our walking guides ready for your family walk. There are over 80 downloadable walk guides available, and these include all the main Peak District family walks, pram-friendly walks, and toddler walks.
Each printable download is just £1.50, whether it’s a short 1km stroll or an epic walk up Kinder Scout.
Map of the Hathersage stepping stones walk
On all Peak District family walks it’s a good idea to have an Ordnance Survey paper map with you, even if you have your phone on you. For this walk you need the OS Explorer Map OL 01 (Dark Peak). It’s also a good opportunity to show young kids the map features and get them started with map reading.
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This Hathersage stepping stones walk follows the below route in an anticlockwise direction.
Get a printable download of this walk
Want to print off this walk guide rather than rely on your mobile? Then click here to download the PDF to print out at home. Perhaps print out a copy for the kids to follow the step-by-step directions and/or photos? It’s a great way to get them engaged with the walk and gives them a sense of responsibility.
All printable downloads are £1.50 each. Click here for the full list of Peak District Kids printable downloads.
Please note that your download link expires 72 hours from order, so make sure you save your PDF somewhere where you’ll remember it. If you are unsure where your download folder is on your mobile device, we recommend you download the PDF on your laptop or desktop.
Need to know
DISTANCE OF WALK: 5.3km / 3.3 miles
TYPE OF WALK: circular
PARKING: Oddfellows Road Car Park, Hathersage, opposite the entrance to Hathersage Swimming Pool. Click here for Google Maps location. Postcode is S32 1DU. £6 for all day parking. The machine takes both cards and cash, or you can pay online using PayByPhone (location: 806374).
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Hathersage Station
WALK HIGHLIGHTS: Cross the Hope Valley railway line that links Manchester and Sheffield, jump across the Hathersage Stepping Stones, and enjoy hot chocolate from a Hathersage café at the very end.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE: Without kids, this is a 2 hour walk. However, allow a good 3+ hours to do this walk with younger kids.
ACCESSIBILTY: This is NOT a pram-friendly walk. No stiles, but parents with little ones in back carriers will need VERY good balance to cross the stepping stones. When river levels are high after wet weather, the stepping stones are often impassable.
TOTAL ASCENT: 41 metres
PUBLIC TOILETS: There are public toilets in Hathersage, as well as cafes, restaurants and pubs. However, there are no other facilities along the Derwent River.
Please be warned that the Hathersage Stepping Stones may be impassable after heavy rains, meaning you will be unable to complete this circular walk. However, if you do the walk in reverse to the stepping stones and back again, it still makes for a lovely walk with the kids.
START: Oddfellows Road Car Park
Click here for Google Map point
Grid reference: SK 2315 8137
Post code: S32 1DU
Route follows an anti clockwise direction.
1. With Hathersage swimming pool in front of you, take a right out of the car park to the main road. Then take a left at the main road and walk along the pavement for 90 metres.
2. At the road junction on your right, cross over, and follow the lane underneath the railway bridge. There’s a footpath before the actual road junction if you want to cut off the corner. Further along the lane, follow the bend to the right and left, around the stone house.
3. Just on the next bend, before the ‘The Music Mill’, take the footpath on the left. Look for the pretty weir under the railway bridge and keep an eye out for trains. Walk across the field to the top right hand corner, which leads out to another main road.
4. On reaching the road, cross over and and turn left, walking along the pavement. This is a busy road, so take care crossing. After 450 metres there is a footpath sign on your left. Carefully cross back over the road, and walk through the gate, following the footpath to the right across the field and down towards the river.
5. Follow the footpath along, with the River Derwent on your left, for 600 metres until you reach the Hathersage stepping stones.
6. Careful crossing the stones. Little ones may need a helping hand if their legs aren’t quite long enough.
7. Once you’re safely across the other side, follow the footpath to the left, signposted ‘Leadmill & Hathersage‘. The River Derwent is on your left.
8. Follow this footpath along the River Derwent for just over 2km, until you reach the B6001 that leads back in to Hathersage. Along the way are a couple of spots that are perfect for a picnic and a paddle (or even a spot of wild swimming).
9. Once you reach the road, you can detour to The Plough Inn on the right if you fancy a drink or are feeling peckish. Otherwise take a left and walk over the bridge. Just 100 metres along, there is a footpath to the left. Follow this footpath (it’s much more pleasant a walk along here than the main road) and pass through two gates.
10. You will soon reach the stone house you passed at the start of this walk. If you want to head straight back to the car park or railway station, take a right here and follow the lane back to the main road and retrace your steps. Otherwise, if you want to walk into Hathersage centre, follow the lane to the left behind the house and continue on the lane, which leads under the railway track, and into the centre of the village.
After your Hathersage Stepping Stones walk
There are lots of cafes and pubs to choose from in Hathersage. Or if little ones still have energy to burn, your may want to go for a play at Hathersage Playground.
You could also combine this walk with a visit to Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool. You need to pre-book a family swim session.
If you’re considering staying overnight in Hathersage, a great budget option for families is YHA Hathersage.
Peak District Kids is a free online resource. If you have found this website useful for planning your family adventures, you can show your support by buying me a coffee. Thanks so much!
Or perhaps purchase a Peak District Kids iron-on patch. £1 from every sale of the iron-on patches goes towards the Peak District National Park Foundation, a registered charity established to raise funds to care for the Peak District National Park.
Want more ideas for family walks?
Best Family Walks in the Peak District
Pram Friendly Peak District walks
Toddler walks in the Peak District
Also, come and join our friendly Peak District Kids Facebook Group for any questions or to share photos of your walks.