Padley Gorge is not an exposed millstone grit escarpment but simply must be visited as a short diversion from the edges. Whilst it certainly could be visited as part of the journey, I would recommend a visit specifically to walk through the Gorge to appreciate it. As a great alternative, it could be used to divide the end to end journey; by taking a path from Stanage Edge to Higger Tor, over Carl Wark and through the Longshaw Estate and down through Padley Gorge to Grindleford (to stay overnight, or to catch a train to Sheffield or Manchester) one gets two viewings. Once down and another up through to gain the height needed to get back along the gritstone edges!
It is a truly beautiful place at almost any time of year. From Grindleford to Longshaw it is a steep sided valley filled with oak, birch, alder, beech, larch and pine trees. Whilst the oak, birch and alder have been there for hundreds of years (and many of the oaks are apparently in excess of a century old) the latter three species were introduced by the Duke of Rutland from the mid-nineteenth century. Down the valley runs Burbage Brook, rushing during the winter but simply finding its way down between the rocks when not in full flow.
It is haven for many different species of birds, common and not so common including the Treecreeper, Pied Flycatcher, Woodpeckers, Redstart and Dipper to name just a few. The area has been fenced off so there is no grazing; this has helped the trees but the extent of the canopy is now beginning to restrict lichen growth so some management is now required. Padley Gorge is managed by the National Trust and is adjacent to the Longshaw Estate, separated by the B6521 road from Grindleford to Fox House.
The views within Padley Gorge are intimate rather than large expanses given its situation. A bright sunny day is to be avoided for most photography given the harsh shadows that will be cast through the trees. A clear, overcast but bright autumn day is probably best as it should provide a great combination of autumn leaves and colour, even light and plenty of water in Burbage Brook.
The views, whilst intimate, change significantly from the bottom to the top of the valley largely with the variety of trees.
(2007-1003611) Oak trees in Yarncliff Wood. October 2007
(2007-1001073) Burbage Brook. June 2007
(2006-2461) Beech tree roots clinging to the hillside, Yarncliff Wood. October 2006
Access and Walking
Padley Gorge, strictly speaking, does not feature and a primary objective of the end to end Millstone Grit journey as it sits well below the escarpments. However, it is typical of the woodland that would many years ago be found underneath the edges, now much reduced. It is closest to Millstone Edge, but it is such an enchanting place that anyone in the area should indulge! It is, not surprisingly, very popular and the ideal starting point is at Grindleford Station where there is free parking in the access road. At weekends though this is normally very congested. From Grindleford Station there is a choice of footpaths to walk up the valley. My favourite is to walk up following the brook until the path climbs somewhat faster than the stream level. This will take you up through the beeches and oaks of Yarncliff Wood to cross the B6521 near Yarncliff Quarry and into the Longshaw Estate grounds. Follow the footpaths to the Longshaw Lodge (where there is a small visitors centre) and then left along the drive to cross the B6521 road near Fox House and follow the path into Lawrence Field. Cross over the stream (Burbage Brook) and then simply follow the path that runs down the right hand side of the stream until you reach Grindleford. It is a beautiful walk through Yarncliff Wood but do take the time to stop, look and listen to the sights and sounds of a real Peak District gem!
(2006-0839) The path through Yarncliff Wood heading towards the B6521 and disused quarry. July 2006
Maps and Guides
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL24 - The Peak District White Peak Area