Planning a Limestone Way walk

Last updated 3 March 2017

Limestone Way signpost

The Peak District was Britain’s first National Park and the starting point to the UK’s first national trail. However there’s more to the place than Kinder Scout and Edale.

On its journey between Rocester (over the border in north Staffordshire) and Castleton, the Limestone Way heads through the southern part of the park. It goes along the beautiful Derbyshire Dales, and through beautiful villages. And as you might guess, there’s more than a bit of limestone too.

In This Guide

  1. What is the walk like?
  2. The route
  3. Planning an itinerary
  4. Finding and booking accommodation
  5. Getting to/from the Limestone Way
  6. Guide Books and Maps
  7. And finally, and any questions?

What is the walk like?

Parwich

For the most part the Limestone Way heads through the attractive Derbyshire Dales, through a number of Peak District farms and dales, passing through several villages. Much of it goes through sheep-filled farm fields or along country track, however the best parts are through the many dales along the route – the northern half between Castleton and Bonsall is especially rewarding.

Limestone is often in view. It is a relatively gentle and easy trail and whilst there are some hills, they are never particularly high and never particularly taxing.

The section between Rocester and Thorpe is in Staffordshire and is a very different walk to the rest of the Limestone Way, featuring a flatter landscape, fewer views and many muddy farm fields. Unless you are particularly fussed about completing the whole route, you may wish to skip this section and start/end at Thorpe or Tissington instead.

For the most part, the Derbyshire section is reasonably well waymarked, however you will need a map for several sections. The Staffordshire section has very little specific waymarking for the Limestone Way and being able to navigate with a map is absolutely essential.

The route

You can see the route of the Limestone Way using the map above. Using the controls you can scroll around, zoom in and explore the route. Note that this map is a guide only, and should not be used for navigation.

You can also download the GPX file of the route.

Planning an itinerary

Fields near Flagg

The Limestone Way is not a particularly long walk and is easily split up in to a four day walk. For those that prefer longer days it is possible to do it in three days. Itineraries for both three and four day walks are shown below.

The walk is usually shown travelling north to south, and the itineraries below reflect that. However it is arguably a far more rewarding walk if you travel south to north. This is because the best scenery is at the northern part of the walk.

Locations with a railway station nearby are marked with a *. All locations listed have a pub and a shop unless otherwise noted.

3 Day Itinerary
Day From To Distance Notes
Miles Km
1 Castleton * Youlgreave 18 29 [1]
2 Youlgreave Tissington 16½ 26½ [2]
3 Tissington Rocester 11 17½
4 Day Itinerary
Day From To Distance Notes
Miles Km
1 Castleton * Moneyash 13 21 [1] [2] [3]
2 Moneyash Bonsall * 12 19 [4]
3 Bonsall * Thorpe 11½ 18½ [2] [4]
4 Thorpe Rocester 15 [4]
  1. Nearest train station to Castleton is at Hope, two miles away
  2. No shop at Tissington, Moneyash or Thorpe
  3. Accommodation can be found in Moneyash or nearby Flagg
  4. For Bonsall, railway station and alternative accommodation can be found in Matlock, which is 2½ miles walk away, easily accessed by following the Limestone Way link path. Alternatively Matlock Bath is slightly nearer
  5. At Thorpe, alternative accommodation can be found at nearby Ilam and Fenny Bentley
  6. Limited accommodation in Rocester. Alternative accommodation at Uttoxeter

If you’d like to split the journey, the easiest most sensible place to do this is at Bonsall where you can follow the waymarked link route to Matlock.

Thanks to good paths and easy navigation, the Limestone Way is a good walk to do all year round.

Finding and booking accommodation

Limestone Way Farm

Finding accommodation for the Limestone Way can be difficult. With the exception of Matlock and Castleton, there are few B&Bs or inns en-route and they can be very busy, especially at weekends. Booking in advance is extremely advisable.

There is also no dedicated accommodation guide for the Limestone Way, which means you’ll have to do some old fashioned digging around if you want to stay over. There are, however, some resources that you may find useful:

Using a search engine may also yield some results not listed on the above sites.

Hostels

There are a number of YHA hostels near the Limestone Way:

The YHA itself is based in Matlock. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean you’ll find a hostel there – YHA Matlock closed in 2007.

Camping

There are a number of campsites near the route at various stages between Thorpe and Castleton. Most are marked on Ordnance Survey maps, and you can find lists on a number of websites. However there are no campsites near the route between Rocester and Thorpe. There are sites in the Matlock area, however not ideally positioned for the walker.

The Limestone Way goes through a lot of cultivated fields, villages and farmland, and there are sheep or cows almost everywhere you go. This means that finding a wild camping spot will be few and far between.

Getting to/from the Limestone Way

Limestone Way Farm

Neither end of the Limestone Way has a railway station, however there are stations relatively nearby.

Hope station is about two miles away from Castleton village and has regular services to Manchester and Sheffield down the lovely Hope Valley Line. There are some buses which run between the station and Castleton village.

The nearest station to Rocester is about five miles at Uttoxeter. Westbound services head to Stoke and Crewe, whilst eastbound go to Derby. Regular buses run between Uttoxeter and Rocester, although not all serve the railway station itself. Buses also connect Rocester with Derby.

Matlock also has a railway station, with frequent services to Derby.

Several villages on the walk are served by buses. Route details can be found on the Public Transport in Derbyshire map, which also shows the route of the Limestone Way. Bus timetables can also be found on the same website.

Guide Books and Maps

Make Hay

There’s no real in-print guide books for the Limestone Way, however Derbyshire Dales Council have pulled together a Limestone Way pamphlet which is available to buy online for £2 at the council website’s Limestone Way page.

There is an out-of-print guide published in 1997 called Walking the Limestone Way which can be found second hand, although not necessarily at a cheap price.

However the walk is easy enough to follow on maps. The maps you need are:

Explorer maps are especially recommended for the Staffordshire section where the extra detail comes in handy.

And finally, and any questions?

Confusing signage

So there you have it. If you’re thinking about walking the Limestone Way, what are you waiting for? Get planning and get your hiking boots on.

As ever though if you’ve any additional questions or information you’d like to know, just ask in the comments box at the bottom of this page.

Found this guide helpful? Why not say thanks by sending us £3 for a beer!

Your Comments

Mary Magrinat

26 January 2014 at 8:09 pm

Looking for a trip in the latter half of May about 50 miles of walking, hoping for nice weather (less rain). Which would be the nicest trip?

Andrew Bowden

28 January 2014 at 2:13 pm

Hi Mary – are you looking for any trip, or just the Limestone Way?

Paul Thomas

4 April 2014 at 11:19 pm

The Limestone way sounds great, is it possible to do it on a mobility scooter/wheelchair? please somebody say yes:)……..Paul.

Andrew Bowden

6 April 2014 at 6:56 am

Hi Paul – I think a mobility scooter would probably struggle as there’s a lot of stiles and narrow, rocky paths. There are some bridleway sections where it would be fine, but not the whole thing.

Ben Cooper

7 August 2014 at 10:05 pm

Thanks for all the info. Moving to sheffield in September, so hoping to do this as soon as possible. Looking to camp.

Amy Hollinrake

1 April 2015 at 8:15 pm

I walked the limestone in 2013 in August. Started at Castleton and did it over 3 days! I really enjoyed the walk, however I would start at Rocester as the scenery is better on the way to Castleton. I stopped at a nice B and B in Flagg and Bonsall. I would encourage anyone yo do this walk! Great memories!

Meriel

7 July 2015 at 9:16 pm

Is it possible to do this walk and just stay in hostels?

Or is there another Peak District walk where that is possible?

MAny thanks, Meriel

Cherry Cross

5 September 2015 at 9:39 am

Hi,
Love your site so packed with useful and interesting info. You suggest the Limestone Way be walked from South to North from a scenic point of view. Could you tell me is there much difference in terms of uphill walking?
Many thanks,
Cherry

Andrew Bowden

5 September 2015 at 9:14 pm

Cherry – there should be no major difference going in either direction. The Limestone Way’s not got many hills.

Alex

26 March 2016 at 7:07 pm

Can this walk be done overnight, in a 24 hour walk challenge

Susie David

4 April 2016 at 10:39 am

A silly question: how far is Castleton from Edale? My sister and I walking from Thorpe to Edale, (as part of our ongoing Land’s End to John O’Groats trek) and the Limestone Way looks like a good way of getting there.
What do you think?

Andrew Bowden

4 April 2016 at 11:39 am

Hi Susie – it’s a couple of miles. You just pop up over Hollins Cross, where you’ll get a fine view.

Alex

4 April 2016 at 6:10 pm

I’m looking too do the limestone way in a 24 hour challenge, is this possible??

Susie David

4 April 2016 at 8:04 pm

Thanks, Andrew. It didn’t look far on the map but it’s helpful to have the reassurance. Sometimes the last two miles can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, especially when one of the camels is over 70 yrs!

Trev Easton

4 July 2016 at 12:54 pm

Yes Alex possible in the day but takes its toll. Get plenty of practice. Check my strava result, ( Goldstarboy)

Gary

12 February 2017 at 6:07 pm

Is it possible to wild camp.

Your Comments

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.