Millers Dale holds many lovely memories, it is also preserved as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the river Wye running through the valley, Derbyshire. Twin viaducts which are local landmarks span the valley over the river, the earliest built in 1866 by the Midland Railway Company, the second built in 1905 due to the increased traffic. The Millers Dale train station on the Monsal trail is now converted to a café and toilet facilities with car park to rear. The trail continues across the only viaduct still in use and onwards towards the Limekilns and disused quarry, which is now a nature reserve.
The trail has some very interesting audio information posts telling about the local history of quarrying, limekilns, railway and tunnels. Lot’s to see and learn here plus some very scenic walking, the trail is also very popular with cyclists too.
Our walk began one weekend earlier this year as a spontaneous trip, Millers Dale has been a magical destination for a lot of years, since the eldest lads were in nappies in fact. Sometimes walking beside the River Wye (not to be confused with the larger River Wye that runs down the border of England and Wales). and other times walking or cycling the Monsal trail, over the viaducts and through the tunnels, it is always fun.
We had parked in the lower valley near the river and walked up a set of steep steps to the Monsal trail. The café at the old railway station is a perfect start to the walk, we each had a coffee and slice of cake eaten outside on such a pleasant day, shared with Bandit of course, it can’t be helped if a bit of cake falls into his mouth, kinda accidently. 😉
We continued onwards and over the viaduct, still a busy trail for walkers and cyclists but no trains on these viaducts anymore although it’s easy to imagine a steam engine flying past with billows of smoke if you just use your imagination.
Each viaduct would have carried two rail tracks. This was a very busy rail track back in the day not only carrying agricultural goods and quarry materials to major cities, it was also a passenger line, the Millers Dale train station was one of the larger ones on this line and had a rare post office on the platform. After passing over the viaduct and looking to the right-hand side is an interesting view of the old Millers Dale Limeworks, which opened in 1878 a set of lime kilns producing quicklime for the chemical and steel industry and agricultural. Worth seeing.
Further up the steps and you will find the disused quarry and nature reserve, so so peaceful up there and with many beautiful viewpoints. It is off the beaten track, just how I like it. After a few quiet moments just chilling out, we continued along the path up there where it’s so calm. The path can be followed higher to an even better viewpoint looking over the Derbyshire Dales, my most favored spot, and some cute limestone stiles. If you look carefully the Millers Dale train station can be seen down below and the stone walled Derbyshire Dales fields spread out over the hills all around.
After taking in the sights from high up we took the route down again, past some cute sheep and through a little woodland back onto the Monsal trail again for a while. There was a sign posted track down to the river Wye. Bandit could sense the water as we walked down the steep path and he was clearly getting excited; he was soon in the river having a paddle and loving every minute of it. The river Wye was quite shallow at the time and was perfect for his little legs. We stopped a while letting him play in the water before moving on to explore a little, we found a nice little water wheel beside the river. Not a surprising find in Millers Dale, a mill in this area of the Wye valley was first recorded in the Doomsday book in 1086. The probability is that there has been a mill in this vicinity for at least 900 years.
This particular mill was used for grinding animal feed, it belonged to the Devonshire estate and would have been worked by generations of the Daykin family. They bought the mill in the late 18th century then acquired a second mill to grind corn for flour, the mills were run for many years by two brothers. Thomas ran the corn mill while George ran the meal mill until the winter 1912/1913 when they both died. At this time, larger more commercial mills were using steam and electric to power mills and were more viable than the water powered roller mills and could not compete and closed in the 1920’s.
After our little jaunt beside the river Wye with Bandit we took the path back up to the Monsal trail, we were tempted to have a refreshment at The Anglers Rest pub beside the river Wye but maybe on next visit. It had been a tranquil walk with my husband and daughter, we had made the most of the sights and explored the out of the way areas that usually would go un-noticed, Bandit enjoyed himself that’s for sure.
Next time on our return visit we will be walking the trail further and walking through the tunnels while exploring further on the Monsal Trail. What a memorable day out and I found so much more to investigate on another day trip, more walks off the track and over the hills, and the tunnels to re-discover further down the line which I last visited on bicycle years ago. Some areas just warrant more visits to see everything and learn more, and this is one of those. I hope I’ve inspired you in some small way and let you experience the area a little. I find it so relaxing and come away feeling so upbeat. 😊