Summary: Picturesque round walk in the White Peak area
Distance: 6.5-7 miles
Duration: 3 hours
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate; steep sections and uneven narrow paths at times
Map: OS Explorer OL24
Essential Gear: Good pair of walking shoes, water, map.
There is a tea-room and toilet facilities at Wetton Mill which is managed by the National Trust. We also found an ice cream van along the way. More facilities can be found in the nearby villages.
Every now and again my friends from Germany will give our British summer another chance and come for a visit in their camper van. After a disastrous rainy and stormy weekend at Harlech the previous year, we were trying it again in the Peak District this time. And as we all like to go for a walk and catch up, this was the perfect place to go.
Our camping site. It was really quiet there.
We met up in Wetton and if you like to drive adventurous single track lanes in your car, this is the place to go; especially if you listen to my SatNav. Anyway, Wetton is a picturesque but tiny village in the White Peak Area just by the Manifold Valley. Camp was set up in a field behind The Royal Oak pub and next to the cemetery, which promised a quiet night. After a good dinner in the pub followed by some drinks in the beer garden, we enjoyed a warm summer evening looking at the starlit sky. If you ever stay in Wetton be warned, this all there is to do. Although popular with cyclists and hikers, it only consists of a church, pub, B&B, tea room and some houses. It is quiet there, the only sounds being the very talkative chicken, some cows and the dog from the B&B. A passing car almost makes you faint from excitement.
The next day we had planned on a nice and easy walk via Thor’s Cave and Ecton Hill. It was a fantastic day with blue skies and lots of sunshine. Only downside, we didn’t have a proper map (we hadn’t realised the size of Wetton) and had to rely on a digital one which wasn’t ideal. The way to Thor’s Cave is an easy walk and signposted very well with it being the main attraction in the area. The last stretch uphill to the cave is made of some uneven steps which get your heart pumping a bit. Be careful when entering the cave, it is quite steep and the rock is polished and slippery from all the visitors’ feet. The views over the Manifold Valley are simply stunning and the cave itself is amazing too with plenty to discover.
The cave is really impressive and the views worth the climb.
Now you might wonder what Thor has got to do with the Peak District and what the story behind the name is. I hate to disappoint – but any links to the Norse god Thor cannot be proven and it is believed that the name derives from the word ‘tor’.
After we had a good look around we descended into the valley and followed what seemed to be an old railway line along the river Manifold to Wetton Mill. We followed the river for a bit longer until it was time for us to get sweating and make our way up Ecton Hill. Because we didn’t have an OS map with us and mobile reception is not necessarily outstanding there, we missed the correct way to the top of the hill and kind of walked around the summit. The views were fabulous nonetheless and the track nice to walk on. Paths are signposted every now and again which does help with the overall orientation.
From Ecton Hill it was downhill again but as they say, ‘you’ve got to go down to go back up again’; we had to make our way up Wetton Hill. We got ourselves some company and made friends with some sheep but soon enough reached the last style and were back in Wetton. And it would not be a proper English countryside ramble without a visit to the tearoom afterwards.
This is a nice easy walk apart from the uphill sections which can be quite steep at times. This and the fact that it is an uneven narrow path when you leave the valley and go up the hills, gives it a moderate edge.
You can cut this shorter by parking your car at Wetton Mill or a car park further towards Thor’s Cave and just walk there and back. The section along the river in the valley is suitable for bicycles as well.