Mobile technology has been brilliant for walking. Apps provide walking inspiration and guidance wherever you are, and built in GPS tracking provides easy navigation. Over 20 years ago I first linked a mobile car gps receiver to a PDA (for those too young to remember these – a smart phone, without the phone!) and used the OS maps app to aid an unexpected wild camp bail and subsequent night nav. Following the red dot – instead of relying on bearings and step counting – was so effective that we made it down before closing time! And GPS tech and apps have only got better since! Insert comments about ‘no substitute for map and compass’ here, but GPS is an amazing advancement that has undoubtedly made walking more accessible.

Social media has also progressed walking. Facebook groups exist on many walking topics, themes and localities. Anyone can join these groups and ask questions, get support and join conversations. The Country Walking Magazine Walk 1000 Miles group is one of the most supportive and positive groups I have experienced.

It was from Instagram that I found inspiration for this article and route. I scrolled onto a fantastic reel of stepping stones along a river and nestled under an overhanging cliff. It looked like a real adventure and so I was excited to see that they were not in some far off exotic land – but in the Peak District. These stunning stepping stones are in Chee Valley below the Monsal trail on the old railway line between Bakewell and Buxton. I have posted an article about walking on trainlines in this series of Peak District articles, but the focus of this article is inspiration and adventure!

Chee Valley cliff
Monsal Trail Lyme Kikns
Chee Valley Stepping Stones and kids

I thought the long section of stepping stones would provide some adventure, but when I looked at the map to see a railway tunnel I knew I had to take the kids there. You can find the route here. It is an absolute gem of a route! There are a few sections where hands may be required and a couple of places where slippery rocks, above steep drops to the river, have to be crossed. You’ll probably meet a few apprehensive people along the way – if you are unsure about traversing and scrambling down slippery and smooth rocks then this route may not be for you. The route is best walked after a period of dry weather as there are stretches of deep mud – and the route will not be passable if the river is flooded.  

The route did not disappoint. There was enough adventure to keep kids very happy – they were not bothered by the slippy rocks. There are sculptures and impressive lime kilns along the Monsal Trail. The route then descends to the base of a bridge, where people abseiling can be found dangling. The woodland is diverse and lush. The path runs close the the river which can be explored in places. Cliffs rise creating impressive vertical walls and the stepping stones are just great. After leaving the river the route heads through the old railway tunnel, which the kids thought was ‘fun’ and ‘scary’ – as though it is well lit there are some interesting shadows.

Chee Valley Nature reserve
Monsal Trail Chee Tunnel
Monsal Trail Millers Dale cafe

There is so much to inspire on this walk – and definitely worthy of a social media post! For the simplest way to get to the stepping stones – and to quickly get that insta shot – follow the route in reverse and head down the steps on the left after the tunnel, then return the same way – this will avoid the most slippery rocks.

Whether it’s a guide book, a TV programme, walking magazine or social media – find your inspiration and go walking! 

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