This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.
One of the most scenic walks you can take in the Peak District is in the Upper Wye Valley in Chee Dale.
Many people love this 3-mile/5-kilometre walk as you get to hop over two sets of magical Chee Dale Stepping Stones that span the River Wye alongside the limestone crags called Chee Tor.
Although reaching these stepping stones is a challenging hike, it’s well worth it for the fun of hopping over them!
I’m going to be very honest and say that although I loved these stepping stones, the Chee Dale walk was not my favourite hike in the Peak District.
Don’t get me wrong, these stepping stones were like something from Lord of the Rings or a fairytale but the walk to get to them was anything but dreamy. It was very challenging, uneven, and steep.
I don’t regret it and it made a fun adventure. However, if you’d rather avoid it, I’ve also provided instructions below on how to reach the stepping stones easily in under 15 minutes.
Here is a complete guide for the Chee Dale Stepping Stones walk in the Peak District.
What are Chee Dale Stepping Stones?
Chee Dale is a gorgeous valley in the Peak District that is home to the rocky crags of limestone called Chee Tor. It’s a very popular hike with walkers all year round.
The Chee Dale Stepping Stones are a set of two-stepping stone paths that help hikers traverse the River Wye.
For many, these stepping stones are the very reason why lots of people like to visit Chee Dale as it’s a fun-filled adventure for all the family.
Although these are similar to Dovedale Stepping Stones, the Chee Dale Stepping Stones are A LOT harder to access.
Where are Chee Dale Stepping Stones?
The Chee Dale Stepping Stones are in Chee Dale which is in the Upper Wye Valley of Derbyshire in the Peak District National Park.
This beautiful valley is located off the Monsal Trail, an 8.5-mile traffic-free route that spans the former Midland Railway line.
The stepping stones are located on the River Wye spanning the limestone crags of Chee Tor and the closest town to access them is Buxton.
How to visit Chee Dale Stepping Stones
The only way to visit the Chee Dale stepping stones is by walking. You will find them hidden deep in the Chee Dale Valley beside the River Wye.
The longer walk to see both sets of stepping stones will take you around 2 hours and it’s an adventurous and scenic hike. But, it’s quite challenging for many…including me!
There are many ways to access the stepping stones in Chee Dale but the quickest would be from Miller’s Dale car park.
The easiest way to access the start of the walk is by car. But, there are bus services from Buxton to Topley Pike which is the closest bus stop.
The address is Miller’s Dale car park, Wormhill, Buxton SK17 8SN. Click here for a Google Pin!
Where do you park for the Chee Dale walk?
The closest car park for the Chee Dale Stepping Stones is Miller’s Dale car park. This is a large car park that used to be a former railway station with room for around 80 cars.
On sunny weekends and school holidays, you may find that this car park fills up very quickly. So, come earlier or later in the day to guarantee a space.
The Miller’s Dale car park is chargeable from 9 am – 6 pm. Outside of these hours, parking is free.
Parking charges are 0-1 hours £1.50, 1-2 hours £2.50, 2-3 hours £3.80, 3-4 hours £5. All-day parking is £6. Cash and contactless options are available to pay.
There is also some free parking that can be found at ‘Chee Dale Lay-by’ and Topley Pike Lay-by. But, it takes a little longer to find the trail this way. However, you do save some cash so it’s up to you.
Is the Chee Dale Stepping Stones walk hard?
If you pick the longer option of these two walks that take you through the valley beside Chee Tor and the River Wye, I would say that this hike is challenging.
The paths are VERY poor. The trails are very muddy, the ground uneven and some parts require you to scramble down steep and slippy rocks that have sheer drops. I’m not going to lie, it was terrifying.
I was very scared at some points on this hike and there were barely any signs. In fact, I thought I went the wrong way and was going to really hurt myself.
In true Peak District style, there was no mobile signal either. So, I thought I was going to get lost. But, I did eventually find my way.
When I looked up the hike afterward. Weirdly enough, the walk I took and the directions below are actually the right way to go. Many people say this is an ‘easy’ walk but I’d have to agree to disagree.
Just make sure to bring sturdy footwear, walking poles (if you need them), and a sense of adventure.
However, if you don’t want to do that long & scary walk there is a way to see one set of stepping stones in around 10-15 minutes.
You just walk through a long flat Chee Tor tunnel, walk down a set of stairs and walk along the river to find them. I’ll explain more below.
How long is the Chee Dale walk?
If you’re picking the longer and harder version of this hike, I would leave around 2 hours for the Chee Dale walk. The circular is just over 3 miles or 5 kilometres.
It’s not necessarily the distance that takes so long but the muddy ground and steep rocks you’ll be traversing.
Plus, you’ll want to take your time when you actually reach the Chee Dale stepping stones as it’s really fun crossing them.
If you pick the shortest way, I would leave around 30 minutes to see the stepping stones in Chee Dale. It’s not necessarily a ‘walk’ but an ‘out and back’ way to see the stones easily and quickly.
Chee Dale walk directions
So, these directions are going to be for the longer version of the hike where you will see two sets of stepping stones.
This walk is around 3 miles / 5 kilometres and has lots of uneven ground, steep drops and requires scrambling over rocks. So, if you’d rather not, I understand.
But, if you are happy to proceed, here are some directions to help you find the stepping stones.
1. Start out at Miller’s Dale car park
You will need to find a space at Miller’s Dale car park to begin the hike. Once you have found a space and paid for parking you can head out to the Monsal Trail.
You’ll find the beginning of the path towards the back of the car park.
Note: The Monsal Trail is popular with cyclists so make sure to keep to the side when walking here!
2. Follow the flat path to the Buxton Lime Kilns
Follow the flat path forwards until you reach the old Buxton Lime Kilns. These are well worth stopping for and having a look at.
There is a path that allows you to see the top of the Lime Kilns or you can explore the bottom of them, it’s up to you.
From 1880 until 1944, these Lime Kilns used to produce over 50 tonnes of quicklime a day. There was a huge demand for quicklime in the 1800s due to the steel and chemical industries.
So, many kilns were opened near the railway lines like the Midland Line which is now the Monsal Trail.
They are no longer used today for this purpose but you will find lots of wildlife inside the structure.
3. When you see the Chee Tor Tunnel, turn right on the sign marked ‘Chee Dale’
Keep walking over a bridge until you see the Chee Tor Tunnel in front of you. You will see a sign pointing toward Chee Dale on your right.
You need to pass through the first gate and follow this path downwards until you see another gate that will let you into the field.
4. Cross the field and then turn left at the ‘difficult path’ sign
Cross this field straight over on the beaten-in track. On my visit, there was no wildlife inside the field but if there is make sure to keep a distance.
Eventually, you will step down onto a bridge that spans the River Wye. Cross over this bridge and then you will see a sign on the left warning you of a ‘difficult path’;
“Cheedale – Difficult footpath & likely to flood in wet weather. Alternative routes via Blackwell & Wormhill”
During a rainy time, or over winter, this path may not be suitable to reach the Chee Dale stepping stones as the river can overflow and cause flooding.
So, the pathways may not just be boggy but completely inaccessible. Proceed with caution but if it’s dry you can carry on the footpath by the river.
5. Follow the ‘difficult path’ around the River Wye
So, if you continue on the ‘difficult path’ you’ll be walking along a bend in the River Wye on a series of boardwalks and uneven ground.
The boardwalks were very leisurely and flat but when you get to the boggier, steeper, and rockier parts this is when it gets challenging.
There are protruding rocks, tree roots, and uneven surfaces. Not to mention boggy bits and slopes and it was awful if I’m being honest.
There is one part where you traverse down some really steep rocks that is a bit of a scramble. But, I just went down on my bum. I’d rather not fall as it was a sheer drop to the left of me.
I did this walk when the ground was bone dry so I can’t imagine what walking over these stones when it’s been raining is like!
Eventually, you’ll cross over a ‘bridge’ (more like a wobbly wood plank with a ‘handle’ on one side) that leads you to the other side of the valley.
Then, you’ll turn left and scramble up a steep hill again with more roots and rocks, and mud.
But, persevere and continue on the uneven pathways until you reach the river again and walk beside the limestone crags of Chee Tor.
6. Reach the first set of Chee Dale Stepping Stones!
Once you start walking right beside the limestone wall or crags of Chee Tor, you will eventually find the first set of Chee Dale stepping stones in front of you (finally).
Hopefully, it’s not too busy so you can take your time crossing the stones and take a few fun photos in the process.
Thankfully, I didn’t encounter anyone else here so I had a fun time crossing them and managed to cross over twice.
I don’t know what it would be like if someone was heading the other way as I don’t have a good balance.
But, these stepping stones were easy enough to cross as they were flat and you can lean on the wall.
7. Follow the path and walk under the arched bridge
After you have crossed over the stones, you can then follow the path onward toward the arched tunnel bridge.
You’ll be walking under this bridge over to the next set of stepping stones (above this is the Monsal Trail).
On the way, you will pass some steps that lead you back to the Monsal Trail. You can then walk through the Chee Tor Tunnel and then onto Miller’s Dale car park.
So, if you want to opt-out now you can. But, it’s only a few minutes further to the next set of stepping stones if you wish to carry on.
8. Continue to the second set of Chee Dale Stepping Stones
After you’ve passed the stairs leading upwards, you’ll cross a small footbridge that spans the River Wye.
Cross over the bridge and turn left then head straight onto the next set of stepping stones.
Again, when I arrived there was no one here really except a few rock climbers. So, you can take your time crossing over and taking some more photos.
I actually couldn’t cross these in the end as they were too uneven and spaced out for me. So, I ended up turning back after I snapped a few photos.
And that’s it, you’ve now seen both sets of Chee Dale stepping stones!
Carry on or turn back and head up to the Monsal Trail back to the car park
If you’re done with this hike, it’s very easy to just turn back and head up the steps to the Monsal Trail and then onwards to Miller’s Dale car park.
But, you can carry on to complete a circular if you have the energy to spare. You just keep heading onwards to the next bridge/tunnel and exit via the Monsal Trail.
Then, you can make your way back to the Miller’s Dale car park by walking through the long tunnels.
To be honest, I was completely done with this hike at that point. So, I turned back and took the quickest route back to my car!
The quickest and easiest way to see Chee Dale Stepping Stones
If you didn’t want to go on a lengthy and challenging hike to see both sets of stepping stones there is another way to see them with far less effort.
When you leave Miller’s Dale car park head the exact same way past the Buxton Lime Kilns on your right.
Over the bridge, instead of turning right before the Chee Tor Tunnel, just continue straight and walk through the tunnel on the Monsal Trail (mind out for fast-approaching cyclists).
Once you reach the end of the tunnel, walk behind the sign that points towards ‘Millers Dale & Wye Dale’, and walk down the steps to the river.
Walk over the footbridge, turn left, and walk straight beside the River Wye until you reach the stepping stones. It’s as easy as that and it will take around 10-15 minutes!
Admittedly, you only get to see one set of stepping stones this way. But, it takes a fraction of the time and it’s far less dangerous in my opinion.
What is the best time to visit Chee Dale Stepping Stones?
I would say that the best time of year to visit Chee Dale is in the spring/summer when it’s been sunny and dry for a while.
In the winter, or during a rainy season, you’ll find that the River Wye can overflow and the pathways are VERY muddy and slippy.
Also, if you wanted a quieter visit to the stepping stones, I would visit Chee Dale in the early morning or later in the evening.
I went on a summer evening around 7 pm. Not only was the parking free at this time but the trail was empty save for a few rock climbers in the valley.
This meant that I had the stepping stones to myself and I could cross them a few times without bothering anyone and taking some cool photos.
At busy times, you may be rushed over the stepping stones and it makes for an unpleasant experience – especially as you’ve worked so hard to get there!
My top tips for the Chee Dale walk
- Wear sturdy boots or footwear – trust me on this, these paths are so muddy and uneven, you need a good pair of shoes.
- Watch your step – the paths around the valley are uneven, steep, and challenging. So, take your time and take care. I would have poles if you need them.
- There is no mobile signal – The Peak District is awful for mobile signal. So, have all walking instructions and trails downloaded before you set out! Download maps.me or have an OS map to hand.
- Bring bug spray – the number of bugs I encountered here was ridiculous in summer. Bring some bug spray if you don’t want bites.
- Take rubbish home – many people like to have a picnic around the valley. But, make sure to take all your rubbish home with you.
Chee Dale FAQs
- Is Chee Dale dog friendly? Yes, the Chee Dale walk is dog friendly, just keep your furry friends on a lead to protect wildlife.
- What is the postcode for Chee Dale Walk? The closest is Miller’s Dale car park and it’s SK17 8SN.
- What is the Chee Dale stepping stones opening times? It’s open 24 hours a day but I wouldn’t recommend visiting at night time
- Is the Chee Dale walk free? YES! But, you have to pay to park in Miller’s Dale if you visit between 9 am – 6 pm. Outside of these hours, parking is free.
- Can you swim in Chee Dale? Yes, it’s a very popular wild swimming spot in warm weather.