Walk 2537 - printer friendly version
Ecton Hill & Wetton from Wetton Mill Walk
Author - Mike Bexley
Length - 7.0 miles / 11.4 km
Ascent - 1700 feet / 515 metres
Grade - moderate
Start - OS grid reference SK094560
Lat 53.101118 + Long -1.861061
Postcode DE6 2AG (approx. location only)
This pleasant Peak District walk is based around the Manifold Valley and has lots of interest with the added bonus of an optional visit to Thor's Cave. The route may seem complicated with the many grid references quoted but it is difficult to go off route as the signed paths are very clear as you pass through some fine "White Peak" countryside in the dales of Staffordshire.
The walk starts from Wetton Mill car park in the Manifold Valley (grid ref SK094560). Cross over the river bridge and turn left, heading north through Dale Farm. This leads up a steep sided and rocky dale to the prominent rock named Sugarloaf (grid ref 098567). Climb the steep path to the left and go over the stile. Then cross the stile on the right.
Follow the path to the small pond on the left (grid ref 101573). Go over the stile on the left keeping to the left of the wall towards Summerhill Farm. At the gap in the wall turn right, climbing diagonally across the field to grid ref 096577. Do not descend but keep to the path on the right that contours the steep slope to arrive at the building (grid ref 099584) that used to be the Ecton Copper Mine pumping house. In its day this was the deepest mine in the country and was owned by the Duke of Devonshire who resided at Chatsworth House. Note that extra care must be taken in this area as there are still many unfenced disused mine shafts.
From the old pumping house turn south climbing to the left of the fenced shaft to pass further evidence of mine workings. It is hard to imagine nowadays but this area saw intensive mining activity especially for lead. The path leads you to a small wood and the drive to Cantrell's House (grid ref 104572). Find the stile behind the woods and cross diagonally over the field to a pretty stream.
The well defined path ahead climbs up the side of Wetton Hill to the corner of the wall. Keep the wall on your right and continue climbing to reach a stile. After the stile cross over the field to the stile in the left fence. On reaching the top, the path descends through a small quarry passing a reservoir on the left to reach the attractive village of Wetton. Continue to end of the village and take the signposted path at grid ref 110552. This path crosses many fields climbing up to a stone barn then descends to Larkstone Road.
Turn right along the road. This drops down to the bridge over the River Manifold (grid ref 100542). Do not be surprised if there is no water in the river. In the summer months the river sinks through holes in the bed flowing below ground to appear again in the grounds of Ilam Hall a few miles further south.
After crossing the river bridge turn right along the old railway track. This used to be the narrow gauge Leek and Manifold Light Railway but has become the Manifold Way. This well used route for walkers and cyclists leads you back to the start. On this return leg there are various small caves in the cliffs above. The largest is Thor's Cave located some 350ft above you on the right. It is worth the visit using the signed footpath.