At the heart of the Peak District National Park and linked to its more famous neighbour Monsal Dale, is a short stretch of riverbank idyll known delightfully as Water-cum-Jolly-Dale - a name that would surely rest comfortably in any book written by Beatrix Potter or A.A.Milne. Between Wye Dale and the busy A6 road that runs between Buxton and Bakewell the river Wye meanders quietly through dales of limestone cliffs and occasionally parallel to the traffic-free Monsal Trail formerly the railway line joining Derby to Manchester. Wye Dale, Chee Dale, Miller's Dale, Water-cum-Jolly-Dale, Upperdale and Monsal Dale form a linear route of around 9 miles of unmatched and beautiful river-side walking. And yes, there's even a pub en route: The Anglers' Rest in Miller's Dale. MAP

Mum takes the kids out for a morning's adventure...

Secrets of the Wye

Autumn morning in the Dale

A morning's walk along the riverbank between Cressbrook Mill and Litton Mill is as pleasurable a 30 minute stroll as you'll find anywhere in the Peak District but you may well need your wellies as the footpath is often part-flooded especially in winter months. As likely as not, you won't see another soul except perhaps the occasional dog walker or even less frequently a horse-rider. If you're really lucky, however, you might encounter a fly-fisherman trying to outwit the wild brown and rainbow trout that frequent these waters. Only members of the Cressbrook and Litton Fly Fishing club are allowed to fish this stretch of premium river but day tickets can be purchased for Monsal Dale on the website.

Life in the dale, quiet moments, nature and peacefulness
Swan gliding effortlessly on the river Wye in Water-cum-Jolly-Dale

Look out for dippers, kingfishers, herons, coots, moorhens and even buzzards circling above the dale as you wander along the picture-perfect footpath that follows the river upstream coming from Cressbrook Mill. At Cressbrook there is a weekend-only 'cafe' voluntarily staffed and at which walkers can even eat their own sandwiches. Opening hours might be erratic but welcome nonetheless. At the Rubicon wall (sheer limestone cliff face), a mecca for climbers, there is a strange and ghostly sound of rushing wind as you pass by, probably a reflection of the weir across the river opposite. When you first encounter this phenomenon you will stop, go back and experience it again, I promise.

Rubicon wall - where ghostly sounds will greet you

Glimpse of light mid-river

Above the dale from the Monsal trail


So escape the tourist hot-spots and discover a place where the trout still leap for mayfly and the sound of coots echoes against sheer limestone walls above the clear waters of the Wye. There's not much to do and no ice-cream vans either but to immerse yourself in the sound of silence is a rare and precious joy in our 'modern' world. Brief a joy as it surely is, access is nevertheless possible to people of almost any age (and fitness level) as the whole footpath is flat albeit muddy and often covered in a few inches of water. Catch a fleeting glimpse of a dipper as it 'swims' underwater in search of a tasty morsel or two before bombing off, lightning quick, inches above the river to find another rock from which to launch yet more dives. Admire the swans as they silently glide over to their little island to bask and preen in early summer sunshine. Water-cum-Jolly-Dale, simple, accessible, beautiful and a rare and free respite for all. Enjoy.

Changing seasons and colourful reflections of the Wye

There is plenty of choice of holiday accommodation in the Peak District from the likes of Visit Peak District and Let's Stay Peak District - a short break or holiday is the very best way of discovering the quieter corners of the national park such as Water-cum-Jolly-Dale. For more photographs of the Peak District please visit my page at www.michaelcummins.co.uk and please feel free to share this page with family and friends. Thanks for looking and see you again next time.

Fly-fishing on the Wye


Photographs by Michael Cummins

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