To experience a quiet, not to mention quintessential Peak District village, it’s hard to overlook the truly delightful Birchover. Not only is this picture postcard-worthy village a great place to visit and relax in its own right, but, the surrounding hills of Stanton Moor and Cratcliffe Tor provide some incredible natural and historical attractions. By walking the beautiful Birchover and Stanton Moor 10km circular walk, you’ll get to discover Robin Hoods Stride, Hermits Cave, Cork Stone, the Nine Ladies Stone Circle and so much more. It’s an easy-going Peak District walk that’s simply perfect for a sunny spring day.
For more incredible walks in the Peak District, check out our guides on Dovedale Stepping Stones, Mam Tor and Thor’s Cave. Otherwise, read our Peak District Hiking post (also coming soon), where we reveal some of the best hikes in the Peak District National Park.
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History of Birchover
The charming village of Birchover is nestled in the heart of the Peak District National Park, between the towns of Matlock and Bakewell in the county of Derbyshire. Birchover is one of the oldest recorded villages in the Peak District, having been referenced in the Domesday Book of 1086. As Peak District villages go, Birchover doesn’t garner quite the tourism and accolade as places like Castleton or Edale. But, that just makes for a more pleasant visit.
Where Is Birchover?
Birchover lies to the southeast of the Peak District National Park. Its location and proximity to Bakewell make it an easy place to stop at if you’re considering a visit to the very popular Bakewell area, for attractions such as Chatsworth House. The region around Birchover houses many interesting geological features such as Hermits Cave and Robin Hoods Stride. They are easily explored and enjoyed on this Birchover and Stanton Moor circular walk.
How to Get to Birchover
Getting to Birchover for the circular walk to Stanton Moor and the Nine Ladies Stone Circle in the Derbyshire Peak District is very straightforward. Of course, having your own set of wheels is useful too. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the nearest places to travel from, such as Bakewell to Birchover. We’ll include the distance and drive time.
- Manchester: 1.5 hours // 42 miles (67km)
- Sheffield: 1 hour // 23 miles (37km)
- Matlock: 15 minutes // 7 miles (11km)
- Buxton: 30 minutes // 18 miles (29km)
- Bakewell: 10 minutes // 6 miles (10km)
If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, then we recommend hiring something. Of course, this can easily be organised from both Manchester and Sheffield. When hiring a car, we always get the ball rolling with a search on RentalCars.com. Booking a car with Rentalcars.com is easy and stress-free, plus they offer an unbeatable free cancellation policy too.
Public Transport to Birchover
For public transport to Birchover from Manchester Piccadilly train station, you should take the train to Buxton. Then, from Buxton take the Transpeak bus towards Derby and alight at Picory Corner. From here, you’ll pick up the no.172 bus towards Matlock, alighting at The Green in Birchover village.
If travelling from Sheffield, take bus 218 from Pond Street to Bakewell. From Bakewell, pick up bus no. 172 to Birchover.
We recommend using Google Maps to help plan your journey. But as you can see, it’s much easier to drive yourself to Birchover.
Where to Park For the Birchover and Stanton Moor Circular Walk
Parking for the Birchover and Stanton Moor circular walk is found at a small parking lay-by along the B5056 at the base of Robin Hoods Stride and Hermits Cave on Cratcliffe Tor. Google Maps marks the small area as the Cratcliffe Parking Area and you can find the location here.
Birchover Map & Walk Preview
- Trail Type: Loop
- Distance: 10km
- Time: 2–3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 320m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Cratcliffe Parking Area
- Map: Wikiloc
Birchover and Stanton Moor Walk
This excellent 10km circular walk explores the best attractions around Birchover. The initial sections to Robins Hood Stride and Hermits Cave follow an out and back route, before joining a circular trail to enjoy the rest of Birchover, including Stanton Moor, Cork Stone and the Nine Ladies Stone Circle.
The initial part of the Birchover and Stanton Moor circular walk covers part of the Limestone Way – a walking route linking the villages of Castleton and Rocester along a 46 miles (74 km) trail through the White Peaks.
Robin Hoods Stride
From the small lay-by parking area, the Birchover walk starts with a short climb up to Robin Hoods Stride and Hermits Cave. This forms a quick out and back. Of course, you could easily do this out and back at the end of the walk too if you prefer.
Cross over the road and begin the uphill through the open field and some pretty woodland. At the top, you’ll reach Robin Hoods Stride. The excellent pile of gritstone boulders at Robin Hoods Stride (also known as Mock Beggar’s Mansion) invites a little scrambling for the adventurous. Equally, admiring the views from the base of Robin Hoods Stride is just as satisfying.
Looking out from Robin Hoods Stride is Bradley Rocks. For any film buffs out there, you might recognise both Robin Hoods Stride and Bradley Rocks. Both locations were used as filming locations in the cult classic film The Princess Bride. Bradley Rocks was actually the location of Buttercup’s Farm.
Once you’ve explored Robin Hoods Stride, it’s on to Hermits Cave.
A short distance to the west of Robin Hoods Stride is Hermits Cave. Located at Cratcliffe Tor is a shallow shelter carved into the side of the rockface. This is Hermits Cave. Inside the hollow on the side of the hillside is a stone bench that looks like a bed and a carving of a crucifix. The carving in Hermits Cave is thought to date back to the 13th or 14th century.
From Hermits Cave, retrace your steps back to the trail leading to Robin Hoods Stride, and return back to the lay-by.
Once back at the parking bay at the base of Hermits Cave, you’ll head north along the B5056 road for a few metres before turning right and taking the path across the field and woodland towards Eagle Tor. You’ll take the path leading around Eagle Tor in a clockwise direction, meeting with the village of Birchover on the far side.
Birchover is one of the most picturesque villages in the Peak District. It’s also much quieter than the likes of Castleton and Edale and so makes for a much more relaxing day out. Upon reaching Birchover you’ll pass by the Old Vicarage, St. Michael’s Church and The Druid Inn. We had the most perfect spring weather for our Birchover and Stanton Moor walk via the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, and so we all decided to stop for a refreshing drink at The Druid Inn. We highly recommend doing the same.
From The Druid Inn, the Birchover walk continues along a steep trail which you’ll join opposite The Druid Pub, on The Meirs. The trail passes under the cover of enchanting woodland, with views of Birchover below dancing in and out of view through the tree cover.
As you exit the woodland above Birchover, you’ll reach the edge of Stanton Moor and the Stanton Moor Quarries. The trail follows Birchover Road for a short while as you pass by the Stanton Moor Quarries, which will be to your right. Soon after passing the quarry, you’ll take a trail to the right and enter Stanton Moor. You’re first incredible attraction here will be the popular Cork Stone.
Cork Stone is an impressive solitary sandstone outcrop on Stanton Moor above Birchover. Its weathered shape resembles, you guessed it, a cork. Small grooves have been carved into its side to allow a climbing passage to the top.
From Cork Stone at Stanton Moor, there are many trails leading across the moorland. Choose one leading north and it will wind up at the Nine Ladies Stone Circle.
Nine Ladies Stone Circle
The Nine Ladies Stone Circle on Stanton Moor in Birchover is a circle of standing stones dating back to the Bronze Age. In fact, during this time, it was very popular for stone circles to be built. But, the purpose of such monuments is still relatively unknown. But, whatever the reason, the Nine Ladies Stone Circle is a fantastic example of carefully built stone circle monuments and a very popular spot for visitors to Birchover and Stanton Moor.
The Nine Ladies Stone Circle measures 10.8 metres in diameter and features 10 gritstone rocks. No, that’s not a typo. There are 10 stones in the Birchover circle. That’s because, after the Nine Ladies Stone Circle was discovered, one of the stones lay buried for several centuries afterwards. And well, when a name sticks, a name sticks. There is a slight raise in the earth surrounding the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, and to the southwest lies the King Stone. The King Stone is a standalone gritstone rock, but again, its relation to the Nine Ladies Stone Circle is unknown.
Despite the historical significance of the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, you’ll find people hanging out here, enjoying picnics and jumping from stone to stone.
Earl Gray Tower and Cat Stone
From The Nine Ladies Stone Circle, you’ll continue the walk to Earl Grey Tower. The now rundown stone tower was built to commemorate Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey for his work in bringing about the reform of the British voting system in 1832. Hence, why the Early Grey Tower is locally known as the Reform Tower.
From Earl Grey Tower, the Birchover walk continues along the edge of Stanton Moor towards Cat Stone. This is another of Stanton Moor’s incredible rock carvings. But, Cat Stone isn’t named because of its resemblance to a cat. Far from it. In fact, Cat Stone is just one of many ‘cat stones’ littering Stanton Moor. The name originates from the word cath, meaning battle. So, many of the stones on Stanton Moor carry crowns and dates, like the Duke of Sutherland stone and the Duke of York Stone.
Continue the Birchover circular walk along the Stanton Moor edge, enjoying views of the valley and surrounding landscape to your left. It’s quite beautiful. Eventually, you’ll reach the Duchess of Sutherland Stone before reaching Lees Road. Cross Lees Road and head down past Barn Farm and Barn Farm Campsite.
From here, follow the country path to join up with Main Street in Birchover village. Head through the village, passing the pretty cottages, Red Lion Inn and then The Druid Inn again. Behind The Druid Inn is a path passing through a stone wall heading up into the woodland. Take this trail to access Rowtor Rocks.
Rowter Rocks in Birchover is a series of unusual rocks nestled on the hillside overlooking Birchover. Here, you’ll find small caves and carvings. Indeed, given its proximity to Stanton Moor and the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, it’s easy to assume Rowtor Rocks is another Bronze Age site of interest. But, interestingly, it’s not.
Rowtor Rocks were actually carved in the 18th century by Reverend Thomas Eyre. Eyre was the local parson at the time and likely resided in the Birchover vicarage at its base. He tried to pass the Rowtor Rocks off as an ancient druid stronghold, perhaps to generate some tourism in the area. Whatever his reasons, he certainly carved some interesting rock formations and even without an ancient druid connection, they’re still worth the exploration. Dan and Lauren (Dan’s twin sister) certainly found the perfect seat to take a rest.
Take care as you explore the area, as there is a steep drop to the northern side of the rocks.
Descend the hillside and rejoin Main Street in Birchover again, and continue the walk back to Eagle Tor. Again, walk around Eagle Tor in a clockwise direction, so you’ll now have covered a loop around the tor. At the other side of Eagle Tor, rejoin the same trail walked up from the car park, and return to your car, back at the base of Robin Hoods Stride and Hermits Cave.
Of course, when you finish this walk, or even during the walk, as we did, you’ll be looking for that perfect country pub to refuel at. But, don’t worry, Birchover has two excellent options!
The Druid Inn Birchover
Dan, myself and Lauren took a break during our Birchover and Stanton Moor walk to enjoy a refreshing drink at The Druid Inn. This beautiful pub has an extensive beer garden that’s just too inviting not to stop at on any Birchover walk.
The Druid Inn Pub has a cracking food and drinks menu, so if you wanted to leave your visit here until the end of your Birchover and Stanton Moor walk, I could totally understand. Nothing like the thought of a good pub feed to power you to the finish line.
The Red Lion Birchover
The Red Lion is the second of Birchover’s delightful country pubs. If The Red Lion had been open during our visit, we’d have probably called in here too. The Red Lion in Birchover dates back to 1680 and has been an official brewhouse since 1722. Yes, The Red Lion pub brews its own beers and ales! This fantastic Birchover brewery has even taken inspiration from the Stanton Moor surroundings, naming many of its ales after such attractions as Cork Stone, Robin Hoods Stride and Nine Ladies, as you couldn’t miss out the famous stone circles!
I dare say we’ll be back one day to sample the delights. But you should definitely call in whilst on this Birchover and Stanton Moor circular walk.
Accommodation Around Birchover
Although Birchover, Stanton Moor and the Nine Ladies Stone Circle are easy to reach from most major towns and cities within the Peak District, it’s still a very picturesque place to come and stay. Below, we’ll take a look at some excellent accommodation options in and around Birchover.
- The Gate House Barn: enjoy this beautiful one-bed holiday home in the heart of Birchover and the circular Stanton Moor walk.
- Birchover Chapel: this incredible holiday home used to be a chapel! The home features three bedrooms and free parking.
- Cloudberry Cottage: if you want to feel like a real Birchover village resident, you’ll have to stay at this delightful cottage.
Camping in Birchover
The place to camp in Birchover is the Barn Farm Campsite in Matlock. Indeed, you’ll remember passing it on the return walk from Stanton Moor back to Birchover. This large campsite has everything. And by everything, I mean we saw a van serving wood-fired pizza and another serving cocktails. Truly, this award-winning campsite offers guests 5-star camping facilities and welcomes repeat guests year after year. If you’re looking for a place to explore the countryside, from the heart of the Peak District, then pack up your tent and head to Barn Farm Campsite.
Other Walks in the Peak District
Some of our all-time favourite walks in the UK can be found in the Peak District. There’s plenty to choose from. Let’s take a look.
- Mam Tor: a classic Peak District walk that’s popular any time of day.
- Alport Castles: a hidden gem in the Peak District, the Alport Castles are the result of one of the largest landslips in the UK.
- Derwent Edge: enjoy the best of the Peaks with a hike up onto the moorland.
- The Roaches and Lud’s Church: hike up and around the famous rocky ridge in the south Peaks and add on the fairytale rocky chasm of Lud’s Church.
- Kinder Scout and Downfall: hike to the Peak District’s highest point and enjoy the seasonal waterfall.
- Stanage Edge: an incredible escarpment edge. Keep a look out for Robin Hoods Cave, similar to Hermits Cave.
- Dovestones Reservoir: enjoy the purple heather if you time this outstanding walk with August.
- Three Shires Head: at the point where Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire meet is a pretty little cascade.
- Thor’s Cave: this impressive natural cavern has fantastic views across the Manifold Valley and is very close to Dovedale.
- Chrome Hill: climb true peaks in the Peak District. We recommend visiting for sunrise.
- Bamford Edge: easily one of the most photographed parts of the Peak District with a picture-perfect ledge to sit on along this walk.
- Dovedale to Milldale Loop: by far the greatest way to experience Dovedale Valley and these Peak District Stepping Stones.
- Padley Gorge: a deep and narrow valley offers a magical woodland walk to all who venture within.
Five Essentials For the Birchover & Stanton Moor Walk
These are our five gear essentials for the Birchover and Stanton Moor circular walk via the Nine Ladies Stone Circle! For a more extensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Alternatively, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a hiking trip to the Peak District, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
You should also pack water, snacks and warm clothing. Additionally, a picnic is a great idea too!
- Other attractions nearby: check out Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall for more historical attractions.
- More stone circles: closeby to the Nine Ladies Stone Circle is Arbor Low Stone Circle, another prehistoric stone monument. You can find its location here on Google Maps.
- More caves in the Peaks: if you want more caverns like the Hermits Cave, check out nearby Thor’s Cave. You’ll also find plenty near Castleton too (guide coming soon).
- Explore more of the Peak District: if you want the hassle taken care of when it comes to trip planning, Get Your Guide offers some pretty great tour options for the Peak District National Park.
Save or share this post with your hiking buddies before your next trip to the Peak District National Park!