The Manifold Track - also known as the Manifold Way - is a mainly traffic-free route which is popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It is a gentle introduction to the Staffordshire Peak District, running through a tranquil limestone dale from Hulme End to Waterhouses, through the lush Manifold and Hamps Valleys.
The eight-mile track takes visitors past deeply wooded slopes and dramatic rock pinnacles as it follows the course of the River Manifold and its tributary river, the Hamps. The name 'Manifold' reflects the 'many folds' of the river as it flows through the valley. Both rivers intrigue visitors with their 'now-you-see-me, now-you-don't' journeys.
Following the route of the former Leek and Manifold Light Railway - which carried milk from dairies between 1904 and 1934 - the track is surfaced and mainly level, so it’s ideal for wheelchair users, families with prams and buggies and people with limited mobility.
The route is near to Milldale, Alstonefield, Ilam and Dovedale.
There are car parking areas at both ends of the track.
There is a 75-space pay and display car park at Hulme End - please note, this is coin only.
- Grid ref: SK 1029 5930
- Postcode: SK17 0EZ
- What3Words: ///upper.flip.decking
The former ticket office of the Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway at Hulme End now serves as an informal visitor information point - with a range of leaflets and brochures to help you make the most of your visit. Please note, this facility may not be staffed.
To help you plan your trip - and check visitor information opening times - email email@example.com or call 01538 483741.
cafe icon Cafés
There is a café - The Tea Junction - based in the former engine shed at Hulme End.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: 01298 687368
There is also a café, Wetton Mill Tea Rooms, along the trail at Wetton Mill.
- Telephone: 01298 84838
- Post code: DE6 2AG
- Grid ref: SK 0957 5610
picnic icon no bbq icons Picnics, no BBQs
There are picnic tables and cycle racks at Hulme End and a picnic area at Wetton Mill. Please take home with you what you bring.
Please don't light fires or use BBQs, which are not permitted in the open countryside of the Peak District National Park.
toilet icon Toilets
There are fully accessible toilets at Hulme End.
There are also public toilets at Wetton Mill (see above) and at Waterhouses.
The toilets at Waterhouses are on the A523 and open all year 8am to 6.30pm.
Radar key required for disabled toilet. Baby change facilities are not available.
- Grid ref: SK 0857 5015
- What3Words: ///pancakes.chief.snowstorm
bike icon Bike hire
A Peak District National Park bike hire centre is based in the listed former station building at Hulme End - a great place to start exploring the Manifold Valley. Our usual wide range of bike is available for all ages, including 'e-bikes' and options for families and children.
- Telephone: 01298 687399
- Email: email@example.com
Dog icon Visiting with your dog
Please keep dogs on a lead for the safety and respect of other visitors. Please take your dog's waste home or use a designated bin.
Bus service 442 runs between Buxton and Ashbourne and includes a stop at Hulme End, giving access to the Manifold Track. Monday to Saturday only.
More information from Traveline or 0871 200 22 33.
The nearest train stations to the Manifold Track are at Buxton and Matlock, from where you would need to travel by bus to an access point.
The Manifold Track follows the route once taken by the distinctive yellow locomotives of the former Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway. The narrow gauge railway ran from 1904 to 1934, carrying milk from local dairies and also taking passengers to the small villages and beauty spots along the way.
Its most notable customer was Ecton Creamery - a hugely successful business whose milk was mainly sent to London, before its closure in 1933.
The Manifold Track was opened by Staffordshire County Council in 1937.
Look out for the Manifold and Hamps rivers before they disappear beneath the porous limestone via swallets, or sink holes, south of Wetton Mill. The River Manifold emerges again in Ilam Park, about five miles away. The Hamps also flows underground through a series of caves and passages.
Take a break at Wetton Mill - a former corn mill which closed in 1857, now home to a tearoom and pretty picnic spot.
The lofty arch of Thor's Cave dominates the valley and can be seen clearly from the track. This natural cavern is set in a steep limestone crag, reached by a stepped path from the track - please don’t attempt to reach the cave by any other routes, which may be unsafe. Access to the cave may be challenging in wet conditions.
Evidence has shown human occupation of the cave during the latter Stone Age - more than 10,000 years ago - and into the Iron Age and Roman period. Excavations have revealed stone tools, pottery, amber beads and bronze items and burial sites.
This limestone cliff - popular with climbers - overlooks the confluence of the River Hamps with the River Manifold. Excavations of caves have founds Neolithic and Bronze Age remains.
A pretty stone bridge that spans the River Manifold - great photo stop!
Popular with tourists, the village has amenities including pub, café and convenience store.
The nearest nature reserves to the Manifold Track, looked after by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, are at: