You cannot fail to miss the large cave on your right. In winter, or sometimes in a very wet summer, the River Lathkill emerges here, from its source at Head Cave. It can be a dramatic sight. If it is in spate, explore very slowly along the river bank, and listen for the thrilling changes in pitch made by the tumbling water. The topscale tinkles are supported by some powerfully deep bass notes – clues there must be some large and resonant hollows hidden just beneath the stony riverbed.
We are around one hundred metres below the level of Monyash’s meres and yet the likelihood is that this river bed is dry. Any water that is flowing here may have fallen as rain a few days ago, as far away as the village of Flagg, some three miles away. Some of the subterranean channels transporting the water between Flagg and here are explored by cavers; don’t be surprised to meet a few squeezing their way out from the shadows at the back of the cave.
Just a few metres past Head Cave, a short arm of the dale can be seen to the left, and, at its head, a relict waterfall. The tributary river may have stopped flowing there when the last of the ice sheets had vanished, but impressive icicles still sometimes form on its overhangs in winter, as melting snow drips onto the cold rock from the grassy slopes above.
Continue down the dale until you reach a wooden bridge
This trail was originally developed by Simon Corble for the Royal Geographical Society’s Discovering Britain.
Simon Corble is a theatre director, playwright and actor based in Derbyshire’s Peak District, is passionate about the countryside and discovering the hidden secrets of the natural world.