Three Shires Head Short Walk From Gradbach | 5-Mile Route

Three Shires Head

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Looking for a short walk to Three Shires Head in the White Peak Area of the Peak District?

The Three Shires Head is a popular place to visit and marks the boundary for the three counties Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire.

A wonderful short walk to do in a cold winter’s day or a perfect summer’s walk that you can jump into the natural pools at Three Shires Head.

Here you will find details on how to get to the start of the short walk at Gradbach, route information, facilities on the walk, plus a detailed step by step guide of the walk.

I would always recommend that you take a paper map and compass with you on the walk, details below on which map you need for this walk.

Let me know your feedback in the comments if you’ve done this walk.

Three Shires Head Short Walk from Gradbach

Cut-thorn Hill
Cut-thorn Hill on the other side of the River Dane

Walk information

Walk type: Short circular walk

Distance:  5 miles/8 km

Walk time: 2.5-3 hours

Total ascent: 287 m/941 ft

Highest point: 431 m/1,414 ft

Walk highlights: Three Shires Head with pool and waterfalls on the River Dane and views of Shutlingsloe Hill.

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Three Shires Head walk map

Three Shires Head short walk map - 5 miles-2
Three Shires Head short walk map
Click for OS online map

Walk start point

Start grid reference: SJ 998 662

Car parking address: The Roaches car park, Gradbach, SK17 0SU

The car park at Gradbach in a small car park for up to about 20 cars. It’s also a perfect place to park for visiting nearby Lud’s Church, another popular Peak District location.

If possible, plan to car share during peak times.

Gradbach car park Peak District
Car park at the start of the walk

Parking Cost

Free parking

Public transport

Nearest train station: Buxton train station (7 mile/12 km)

Unfortunately, there aren’t great public transport options for this walk. There is a bus from Buxton (no. 16 with D&G Buses) that goes to the Travellers Rest pub near to Flash village, followed by a 2.5-mile walk.

Alternatively, as the train station is such a distance, a taxi (or walking) would be the only other options.

Facilities on the walk

There are no public toilets available at the start of the walk at Gradbach or the rest of the walk.

Following your walk, the nearest pubs to Gradbach are the Rose and Crown at Allgreave (2.3 miles/6-minute drive) or in the opposite direction the New Inn at Flash (2.1 miles/5-minute drive)

Other useful information

Three Shires Head waterfalls and pools
Three Shires Head waterfalls and pools

The beginning of this walk across the fields to Three Shires Head can be very muddy so waterproof hiking boots or wellington boots are recommended for a more enjoyable walk!

During the summer (and winter months if you are brave enough), you can swim in the pools at Three Shires Head. This does mean on hot summer days it can be a very popular spot.

The route is signposted in some parts (Dane Valley Way sections) but I would always recommend you take a map and compass (see below).

Check the weather for your walk location and hills

Ordnance Survey Walk Map

The map required for this walk is OL24 – Peak District (White Peak Area)

Buy a paper map at outdoor shops or shop online at Amazon or Ordnance Survey

Check prices here with Ordnance Survey, you can buy a standard map or a waterproof one. You can sometimes find cheaper deals on Amazon, but the Ordnance Survey website sometimes has discounts for buying more than one map!

And don’t forget your compass.

There are lots to choose from, I recommend the Silva Expedition compass, it’s more expensive but a valuable piece of hiking kit!

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. 


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Three Shires Head short walk 1

Three Shires Head short walk route

Stage 1 – Gradbach to the base of Turn Edge Hill

Distance: 0.9 miles/1.5 km

Grid reference SJ 998 662

From the car park at Gradback, take the footpath from at the back of the car park next to the brook, then cross the little wooden bridge and follow the water across a field to the road.

Small gate across the fields
One of the small gates across the fields

Turn right onto the road, heading uphill then look for a footpath, which looks like someone’s driveway. Go through a metal gate, signposted with a yellow arrow, then across several muddy fields heading towards the hills.

You will walk alongside the boundary, a drystone wall whilst passing through about six gates and lots of mud.

When you reach the end of the dry stone wall, continue in the same direction, up and over a small hill. Then look for a green public footpath sign directing you on a path going left (you can’t see the sign from the front but it’s a large green sign).

Three Shires Head signpost
Look carefully for this sign to Three Shires Head

Stage 2 – Base of Turn Edge Hill to Three Shires Head

Distance: 1.25 mile/2 km

Grid reference SK 010 676

Turn left here, towards Three Shires Head down a muddy track then look for a metal gate on your right.

Reaching the path on the River Dane
Reaching the path that meets the River Dane

Next turn left down a track, heading towards the River Dane. Once you reach the water, turn right on the Dane Valley Way (DVW) and follow the path as it runs parallel to the River Dane.

Go through a wooden gate, again follow both the yellow arrow and DVW signs, the path heads gradually up and away from the river.

Continues walking all the way, alongside a drystone wall and then all the way until you reach the waterfalls at Three Shires Head.

Three Shires Head waterfalls and pools
Three Shires Head bridges, waterfalls and pools

This is the iconic meeting point of the three counties Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire with two beautiful 18th century stone bridges.

Stage 3 – Three Shires Head to Shutlingsloe viewpoint

Distance: 1 mile/1.6 km

Grid reference SK 009 685

Cross the stone bridge but this time turn left along the track that skirts around the bottom of Cut-thorn Hill. As the path splits, keep going uphill on the track following around the bottom of the hill until you gate taking you on to the road.

Following the path around Cut-thorn Hill
Following the path around Cut-thorn Hill

Turn right on the road, past the house then turn left onto the footpath through the wooden kissing gate.

Follow this all the way until you reach a short wooden post with a yellow arrow, follow the path around to the left then across a broken stone still then a wooden stile. In the distance, you can see the iconic Shutlingsloe Hill, another great walk you can do nearby!

Views of Shutlingsloe Hill in the distance
Views of Shutlingsloe Hill in the distance

Stage 4 – Shutlingsloe viewpoint to Gradbach

Distance: 1.7 miles/2.7 km

Grid reference SJ 996 682

Follow the path as it then curves back around the base of Birchenough Hill and across the fields, descending to a track.

Go through a gate next to a house, with a beware of the dog sign, (I didn’t see or hear a dog!) As soon as you’re past the house there’s a small gate on your right with another yellow arrow, go through here and head for a gap in the stone wall towards the bottom left of the field.

Through the gate beyond the house
Through the gate beyond the house

From here head down towards a tall wooden step stile which takes you onto the road. Turn right, for a short distance.

Then look for the fingerpost for a public footpath on the left. It’s a narrow path heading down over a wooden stile then down some small stone steps back onto the road next to Dane Cottage.

Fingerpost sign towards the end of Three Shires Head walk
Fingerpost sign towards the end of Three Shires Head walk

Turn left down the road. Then look for the gate to take you back over the field that you crossed at the beginning of the walk.

Follow your footsteps through the stone stile, across the wooden bridge then back along the path into Gradbach car park.

Do you have any more questions about the Three Shires Head walk, maybe what to wear on your hike or any other questions? Ask me in the comments below.

Additional options

Extend the walk

From Three Shires Head you can continue on the Dane Valley Way and follow the path in a loop around the old quarries.

Read the extended route here – Three Shires Head walk the 8-mile route

More Walks in the Peak District

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

Have you done the Three Shires Head walk, let me know any feedback in the comments below?

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Three Shires Head short walk 2

Three Shires Head short walk 3

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One thought on “Three Shires Head Short Walk From Gradbach | 5-Mile Route

  1. Pingback: 15 Beautiful Peak District Waterfalls (+ Walks to Visit Them) - Peak District Walks

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