Monsal Head Short Walk | 2-Mile Route

Monsal Head walk - Monsal Viaduct

Here’s a lovely short walk from Monsal Head with stunning views down to the valley of Monsal Dale and Monsal Trail over the viaduct. 

This walk begins from Monsal Head where you can enjoy the views down to the valley including the impressive viaduct. You then descend through the trees down to the River Wye where there are plenty of places to stop for a picnic of watch water cascade over the weir.

And finally you walk beneath the viaduct, back across a footbridge over the River Wye and head up to Monsal Head. 

The route is closer to 1.5 miles, so a great short loop, however you do have the walk back uphill so be sure to add on extra time on the way back!

Or if you fancy making the walk longer you can add an extra out and back to explore more of the beautiful Derbyshire Dale, Monsal Dale. (See walk stage 2 instructions)

Here you will find details on how to get to the start of the walk at Monsal Head, route information, map, GPX file, plus a detailed step by step guide of the walk.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve done this walk from Monsal Head and what you think!

Monsal Dale from Monsal Head

Monsal Viaduct
Views of the viaduct as you walk back to Monsal Head

Walk information

Walk type: Short circular walk

Distance: 1.5 miles/2.5 km

Walk time: 45 mins – 1 hour

Total ascent: 126 m/413 ft

Highest point: 233 m/764 ft

Walk highlights: Monsal Dale valley, River Wye and views of the viaduct from above and below. 

Trig points: 0

Stiles: No

gpx file

Monsal Head walk map

Monsal Head map
Monsal Head walk map
Click for online map

Walk start point

Start grid reference: SK 18472 71492

Car parking address: Monsal Head car park, Ashford in the Water, Bakewell,  DE45 1NL – Google maps

There are two car parks at Monsal Head, the main one which has 150 spaces then a small short stay one with 19 spaces for up to 1 hour (the price is the same for up to an hour at both car parks).

Monsal Head car park
Monsal Head car park

The car park machine was cash only, although it does mention another machine that takes card payments.

Up to 1 hour £1.50

1-2 hours £2.50

2-3 hours £3.80

3-4 hours £5.00

All day £6.00

Evening parking from 6 pm to 8 pm £1.00

Public transport

The 173 bus runs between Castleton and Bakewell and stops at Monsal Head.

Facilities on the walk

There are community toilets available at the start of the walk at Monsal Head car park (the block near the entrance).

At Monsal Head, there’s a pub (Monsal Head Hotel + Pub) with outdoor seating area, a cafe (Hobb’s Cafe) and lastly, the all important ice-cream stand!

Other useful information

It’s lovely short walk from Monsal Head but this is a popular spot so expect it to be busy at peak times. 

Also, look out for the beautiful Mandarin Ducks along the River Wye as they are popular along this part of the river.

Mandarin ducks
Mandarin ducks on the River Dove

Please keep the Peak District beautiful and take all your rubbish home to dispose of. Picnics are welcome but please, no disposal BBQs due to the high fire risk. Thank you.

Peak District weather

Check the weather for your walk location and hills.

Ordnance Survey walk map

The map required for this walk is the Ordnance Survey OL24 – Peak District (White Peak Area). Check prices here with Ordnance Survey or Amazon. If you’re hiking in all weathers the Active OS maps are pretty good to have.

And don’t forget your compass, I recommend the Silva Expedition compass

For online maps, you can get via OS Online App or Viewranger App. Check prices here for the one month or yearly option with OS Online App.


Monsal Head walk route

Stage 1 – Monsal Head to Monsal Dale Weir

Distance: 0.7 miles/1 km

Grid reference SK 18472 71492

From the car park at Monsal Dale, walk through the gap in the stone wall, about halfway up the car park. Here’s you’ll have a wonderful viewpoint, before you even walk 10 metres! 

Signpost at Monsal Head
Signpost at the start of the walk

After you’ve soaked up the views, go through the small gate via the outdoor seating area and you’ll come out by the Monsal Head pub (great for after your walk). Turn left and walk towards the wall where you join the footpath, there’s a signpost for Monsal Dale and Ashford, pointing left. 

Walk along the path, it splits shortly after but keep on the lower path, heading downhill, signposted Monsal Dale Weir. Go though the gate and continue walking down the path through the trees where you can get a glimpse of Monsal Viaduct and the Monsal Trail.

The path is narrow and gradually continue downhill, through another gate and then you reach the River Wye and Monsal Weir.

Monsal Weir on River Wye
Monsal Weir on River Wye

Stage 2 – Monsal Dale Weir to Monsal Head

Distance: 1 mile/1.5 km

Grid reference SK 17646 71388

Bridge over the River Wye
Bridge over the River Wye

Cross over the bridge, onto the large grassy area. Turn right and walk across the grass, past the weir and the onto a dirt path. Look out for Mandarin Ducks as they are often in this area.

Option to extend walk – Instead of right, turn left after you’ve crossed the bridge and walk alongside the river for about 1 km then returning the same route.

Continue walking alongside the River Wye on the large grassy area heading straight for Monsal Viaduct, which looks more impressive the closer you get! Walk until you reach a wooden gate almost under the the viaduct and squeeze through the narrow stone gap on the left.

Under the Monsal Viaduct
Walking under the Monsal Viaduct

You now follow the path under the viaduct and continue on the path next to the river. The path then continue across a second bridge, with another small gap to squeeze through!

Once across you’ll see a some buildings, walk past these then immediately after the building, turn right and head down the footpath alongside them. The path now gradually begins to incline and you’ll get some more beautiful views of the viaduct on your right. 

Footpath next to building
Footpath leading back to Monsal Head

Follow the path all the way up, signposted Monsal Head as you near the top and then you’re back at Monsal Head, ready to enjoy a treat at the pub, cafe or ice-cream stand!

Ask me any questions about the route in the comments below.

More short walks in the Peak District

Love the walks in the Peak District? You might like these circular walks.

We have a longer trig walk coming soon to include Wardlow and High Rake trig points.

Or check out all our Peak District walking routes here

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