Peak District Kids writer: Gemma from Families Can Travel
Thor’s Cave is an iconic natural cavern perched on the side of the Manifold Valley. Don’t forget to pack your torch on this Peak District walk as the kids will love climbing and exploring deep into the dark chamber at the back of the cave (and gloves are a good idea for scrambling).
Please note that the walk up to Thor’s Cave gets extremely muddy and slippy in wet weather, and may be impassable. We suggest attempting this walk in dry weather. Also, this is a popular tourist attraction so we recommend visiting at the beginning or end of the day to avoid waiting to enter Thor’s cave.
This is a circular Thor’s Cave walk with the cave visit being close to the start, so if you were visiting later on in the day, you could even do the walk in reverse and visit the cave near the end.
Be sure to wear appropriate footwear as parts of the route are rocky and can get muddy in wet weather. Take care when entering and exiting the cave as the smooth surface can get very slippy. Be prepared for muddy hands and bottoms if it’s wet!
After you’ve explored the cave, the route takes you down through woodland and then along the flat Manifold Way before climbing up and across the fields back to Wetton village.
There are some steep uphill sections but they’re only short and the views across the Manifold Valley are a good excuse to stop and catch your breath.
You can also shorten this to a 2.6 km Thor’s Cave walk by just walking to the cave and back.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click to purchase, it is at no additional cost to you, but I receive a small commission.
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.
Thor’s Cave 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 OL 24 (White Peak). It’s also a good opportunity to show young kids the map features and get them started with map reading.
|The Peak District: White Peak Area Map | Weatherproof | Peak…||£14.75||Buy on Amazon|
The route description below follows this OS Map in an anti-clockwise 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: 5.6km / 3.5 miles
TYPE OF WALK: a circular cave walk through mixed terrain
PARKING: Free parking at Wetton Car Park. Click here for Google Maps point, postcode DE6 2AF. Wetton is a popular tourist destination and although there is an overflow car park if needed, we recommend avoiding peak times. Please respect local residents and park with consideration.
WALK HIGHLIGHTS: Climbing into Thor’s Cave and exploring deep into the chamber, views across the Manifold Valley.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE: Without kids, this is a 2 hour walk. Allow 3-4 hours with young kids.
ACCESSIBILITY: Not pram or wheelchair friendly, the steps and couple of uphill sections may be challenging for small children. The route can get muddy in wet weather and inside the cave can get very slippy. This Thor’s Cave walk is best attempted in dry weather.
TOTAL ASCENT: 237 metres
FACILITIES: There are public toilets at Wetton Car Park. You can get refreshments and snacks from Wetton Village Hall Tea Rooms or you may want to tie in a meal at the Royal Oak pub.
START: Wetton Car Park
Click here for Google Map point
Grid reference: SK 1092 5518
Post code: DE6 2AF
Route follows an anticlockwise direction.
1. Walk to the back of the car park furthest away from the toilets and climb over the stile next to the gate. Walk straight ahead, across the field for 250 metres.
2. When you reach the farm on your right, climb over a stone stile and walk along the short path until you reach the road. Turn left and follow the road for 180 metres.
3. Continue along the road and just after the bend, take the footpath on the left signposted ‘Concession path to Thor’s Cave’. Keep following the signs to Thor’s Cave, passing through two gates.
4. The hilltop above Thor’s Cave soon comes into view. You may spot people on the top. Continue the footpath along to a wooden gate where the path splits in two. To the left is a path that leads you up to the top of the hill for incredible views down into the Manifold Valley, and to the right are steps leading down to Thor’s Cave. Take the detour up to the hilltop first, before descending down to Thor’s Cave.
5. Thor’s Cave does get busy so you may have to wait to climb into the cave safely. The entrance to the cave is very smooth and very slippery in wet weather so be careful when entering and exiting, and encourage children to move about on their hands and bottoms. Head to the back of the cave to explore the dark chamber to the left and the opening to the right with views across the Manifold Valley.
6. When you have finished exploring Thor’s Cave, head down the stepped footpath (look out for fossils in the stone steps). After 370 metres, you’ll reach a junction in the paths. Turn left and continue downhill through the woods for a further 340 metres until you reach the Manifold River.
8. Continue along the flat, smooth Manifold Way path for 1.5km until you reach a small car park on your left. Just after the car park, turn left onto Larkstone Lane and walk over the bridge.
9. Continue following the lane to the right and over a cattle grid (there’s a gate to the right to avoid walking over the cattle grid). Then just after the bend to the left, there is a footpath sign on your left. Take this woodland path uphill for 80 metres until you reach the road. It’s short but very steep, so allow yourself a breather to take in the views once you reach the road.
10. Turn left onto the road and follow it around to the right, continuing slightly uphill for 360 metres. After walking over a cattle grid, you’ll see a footpath on your left. Climb over the stone stile and into the field.
11. Continue uphill. This is a steep field but the view behind you is stunning, so there’s a good excuse to keep stopping to admire the view. After 160 metres, go through the wooden gate at the top and turn left onto the road.
12. Walk up the road for 180 metres until you see the public footpath sign on your left. Climb over the stone stile into the field.
13. There are three fields to now cross. Cross to the right of the first field, reasonably close to the drystone wall on your right, and walk through a stone squeeze stile. It’s a little tricky to spot, but it’s there! Continue across the next field in the same direction to a stone stile, which leads into a third field. This then leads you out onto a farm track. If there are cows in the field and you don’t feel comfortable walking through them, it’s easy enough to detour around them through adjacent fields.
14. Follow the track towards the farm for 200 metres until you see a footpath sign to the left. Climb over the stone stile and walk across the last field keeping the stone wall on your right. This is a concession path, the Ordnance Survey actually has the footpath continuing straight through the farm. Be warned, this concession path can get exceptionally boggy.
15. After 100 metres, you’ll see another stone stile which takes you back onto the road you walked along towards the start of this Thor’s Cave walk.
16. Follow the road straight ahead, signposted to Alstonefield, for 130 metres and turn right through the small gap in the wall next to Carr Farm gate. Then return back along the short path, over the stone stile and across the field that leads back to the car park.
After the Thor’s Cave walk
Why not visit Wetton Village Hall and Tea Room for refreshments, tasty treats and snacks? Or for something more substantial, you might want to tie in a pub dinner at the Royal Oak, also in the village.
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.