This pram friendly Peak District walk starts at Cressbrook Mill and follows the winding River Wye through the valley to Litton Mill and back along the Monsal Trail. The first half takes you through the steep-sided dale of Water-cum-Jolly with its impressive limestone crags. Whilst the second half loops you back along the trail overlooking the breathtaking valley and river you’ve just walked along. There’s also a couple of tunnels to walk through which the kids always love.
The route is buggy friendly, although there are two small sets of steps leading to an uphill and slightly rocky path to the Monsal Trail. The first section of the route by the river can also get quite muddy in wet weather. We managed fine with our Phil & Teds buggy but be prepared to get muddy wheels if it’s wet. The rest of the walk is flat with well-surfaced paths, so good for little legs.
If you are planning a visit to the National Park, please arrive early or late in the day to avoid crowds. 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.
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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.
Cressbrook Mill to Litton Mill circular walk map
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 Active Map OL24 (White Peak). It’s also a good opportunity to show young kids the map features and get them started with map reading.
Need to know
DISTANCE OF WALK: 5.5km
TYPE OF WALK: circular, pram/buggy friendly, easy going, muddy sections in wet weather
PARKING: There is a small roadside car park – click here to see location on Google Maps on your phone, postcode: SK17 8SY. There is also free roadside parking further along towards Cressbrook village. Please respect local residents.
WALK HIGHLIGHTS: Walking along the River Wye, listening to the echoes in the deep valley, walking through the tunnels on the Monsal Trail, breathtaking scenery across the dales.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE: Without kids, this is a 1 hour 30 minute walk. However, including a stop for our picnic lunch and time for the girls to play by the river and in the leaves up on the trail, it took us close to 3 hours.
ACCESSIBILTY: Two sets of five steps leading to a short and slightly rocky uphill path. Riverside path can get very muddy in wetter months.
TOTAL ASCENT: 316 metres
PUBLIC TOILETS: There are no toilets or eateries on this walk. The closest ice cream van and café (Hobb’s Cafe) is at Monsal Head, a mile away from Cressbrook.
1. With the Upperdale roadside car park on your left (click here for Google Map location on phone), continue to walk along the road towards Cressbrook village for 600 metres. If you’ve parked further along in Cressbrook village start from step 2.
2. Just after Cressbrook Mill, look for the signpost for the concession footpath to Litton Mill (below photo on left). Turn left here and follow the footpath with the stone wall on your right and railings on your left. Follow the footpath for 80 metres.
3. Soon you’ll reach the River Wye and Water-cum-Jolly dale. With the weir on your left, follow the footpath to the right over a little wooden bridge. Here, you might see rock climbers attempting to scale the impressive limestone crags. Follow the riverside footpath through the deep valley, listening to the echoes of your voice and looking out for wildlife. The beginning of the path can get very muddy in wet weather but it improves further along.
4. When you reach a wooden gate, continue along the path following it to the right over a paved bridge and then left through the old Litton Mill buildings. After 200 metres you will reach the road.
5. Walk along the road for 50 metres and turn left next to the sewage pumping station, following the footpath signposted Monsal Trail to Millers Dale. The footpath crosses the river over a bridge.
6. The route now climbs up along a slightly rocky, woodland path onto the Monsal Trail. If you have a buggy, you may need a lift up five concrete steps followed by a further set of five wooden steps. The path hairpins to the right and continues uphill for 100 metres until you reach the Monsal Trail. At the top, there’s a conveniently placed bench for a rest and even a bite to eat.
7. Turn left and follow the trail signposted to Bakewell. Stay on the trail for 2.2 km, walking through both the Litton Tunnel and the Cressbrook Tunnel. Both tunnels are about 400 metres long and well lit. Make sure you zip up your coats, it gets cold inside! In between the two tunnels, you’ll find the most stunning views across the undulating hillside and down over the valley and river where you’ve just walked from. We did this walk in November and the trees were still hanging on to their beautiful autumnal leaves. It also made the perfect spot for the girls to have a leaf fight.
8. Turn right, leaving the trail at the signpost for Brushfield and Upperfield. Follow the path round to the right, passing another sign for Upperdale and under the trail that you’ve just walked across.
9. Continue for 300 metres, crossing the bridge over the River Wye until you reach the road.
10. Turn left at the junction and follow the road back to your parking spot.
11. Once you’re in the car and on your way again, perhaps stop at Monsal Head for an ice cream with a view. Monsal Head Ices is less than 1 mile from the walk start/finish point and overlooks the Monsal Dale Viaduct.
Peak District Kids is a free online resource. If you enjoyed this walk, you can show your support by buying me a coffee. Thanks so much! You may also want to share your own photos of this walk in our Peak District Kids Facebook Group.