As one of the Peak District’s most popular sites, a Thor’s Cave walk is the perfect addition to your weekend excursions, school holiday getaways or mid-week escapes. Fun for all the family, all year round, choose your walk from these different routes from Wetton.
Maybe you’re looking for a Thor’s Cave short walk? Perfect for those with less time or kiddies with smaller legs. Or perhaps a Thor’s Cave circular walk taking in some other nearby sights? Choose a route going via Wetton Mill to enjoy some of their tasty cakes, pastries and sandwiches.
Find out more in this complete guide – including where to find free parking and what to expect in terms of distance, time and difficulty!
Route 1: Thor’s Cave Short Walk from Wetton
1.6 miles | 30 to 40 minutes
Route 2: Short, Circular Walk from Wetton
1.6 miles | 30 to 40 minutes
Route 3: Circular Walk via Wetton Mill
3.8 miles | 1.5 to 2 hours
Route 4: Circular Walk via Ladyside Wood
4.7 miles | 2 to 2.5 hours
Thor’s Cave Location
Thor’s Cave is located to the west of Wetton, a small village in the Peak District National Park and county of Staffordshire. Located in the Manifold Valley, the cave sits inside a tall cliff overlooking the River Manifold and the Manifold Way footpath.
Is Thor’s Cave Free?
Yes, it’s completely free to visit Thor’s Cave. There’s even free parking in nearby Wetton…
Where do you park to walk to Thor’s Cave, Manifold Valley?
Parking is pretty limited in Wetton, the nearest village to Thor’s Cave and where most people walk from. However, the early bird gets the worm. And, those who get a spot can park for free here.
The first option for free Thor’s Cave parking is at Wetton Car Park on Carr Lane. Here, there are two disabled bays and about 16 standard-sized parking bays. Although there are usually a few more cars than that here making the most of the space. However, parking outside of marked bays could result in a parking fine (see the restrictions and information in the image below).
At Wetton Car Park, there is also a small toilet block and a bin for any rubbish you’ve accumulated during the walk.
A second option for free Thor’s Cave parking is on the roadside in Wetton. The best place for this is at the T-junction between Carr Lane, Ashbourne Lane and Royal Oak Road
Thor’s Cave Walk Route: Directions
Like with many of the best attractions in the Peak District, there are countless routes to walk to Thor’s Cave. However, with the availability of car parking and variety of routes, Wetton is probably the best and easiest place to start.
These 4 routes all start and end at Wetton Car Park, where you can park for free. If you’re visiting on a weekend, bank holiday or sunny day in the school holidays, make sure to arrive early to get a space. Alternatively, roadside parking is available a couple of minutes walk away in the centre of Wetton.
Option 1: Thor’s Cave Short Walk
Distance: 1.6 miles/2.6 kilometres
Elevation gain: 55 metres
Walking time: 30 to 40 minutes
This is the shortest and easiest Thor’s Cave walk, with a short distance and the least elevation gain. You’ll spend about 30 to 40 minutes walking there and back. But you should also allow another 15 minutes at least to go inside the cave and enjoy the views.
- Head west from the car park, taking the first right along Well End Lane. At the end of the road, turn left and join the footpath to the left of the farm gate.
- Continue along the footpath until it branches into three parts. Take the right-hand option and follow the trodden path across the top of the field.
- You’ll start to see the large, round hill where Thor’s Cave Peak District is located, follow the path as it snakes round to the right. Then all that’s left is to climb into the cave itself.
- Explore the small corners of the cave and take in the sweeping views over the Peak District. When you’re ready to leave, simply retrace your steps back round the side of the cave and up to the footpath. Head right at the road, right again and then left at the last junction to get back to the car park.
Option 2: 1.6-Mile Thor’s Cave Circular Walk
Distance: 1.6 miles/2.6 kilometres
Elevation gain: 83 metres
Walking time: 30 to 40 minutes
Although the same distance as the short route above, this one is circular so you don’t have to walk back on yourself. It can be completed easily in either direction but I’d recommend going clockwise. This way, you’ll be walking down the stairs from Thor’s Cave rather than up them!
- The first part of this Thor’s Cave circular walk is the same as the route above. Head west out of the car park, right down Well End Lane, right at the end and then join the footpath. Continue along the footpath until it forks, then take the right-most path along the tops of the fields to the cave. The path is pretty trodden so you shouldn’t go wrong.
- You’ll reach the cave in around 15 to 20 minutes, but be sure to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this natural attraction.
- When it’s time to leave, head out of the cave entrance and to the right. But rather than heading uphill (where you came from) follow the path that’s heading down into the trees.
- The stairs will take you all the way down to the base of the cliff in the woodland. At the bottom, turn right and start heading slowly uphill back towards Wetton.
- You’ll soon emerge from the woodland into fields, head straight through the centre of these until you reach the road. The footpath you walked along to Thor’s Cave Peak District will be on your right. Climb through the narrow stile to get out of the field.
- Finally, head back along Well End Lane, turning left at the junction to reach the car park.
Option 3: Circular Walk via Wetton mill
Distance: 3.8 miles/6.1 kilometres
Elevation gain: 160 metres
Walking time: 1.5 to 2 hours
Starting from Wetton Car Park, this 3.8-mile route takes you to Thor’s Cave Peak District and then along the Manifold Way to Wetton Mill. From there, you’ll walk around Wetton Hill before heading back to the village. Stopping for some tasty sandwiches, pastries, cakes and/or ice cream is optional but highly recommended at Wetton Mill!
Wetton Car Park to Thor’s Cave
- Following the same route to Thor’s Cave as the two walks above, head west along Carr Lane from the car park. Turn right down Well End Lane and then left at the end. Join the footpath next to the metal farm gate and follow this until it forks.
- Where the path forks, take the right-most option and walk along the tops of the fields until the path meanders downhill towards the entrance of the cave. Stage 1 complete!
Thor’s Cave to Wetton Mill
- To reach Wetton Mill, take the stairs heading downhill from Thor’s Cave into the woodland. At the bottom, turn left and cross over the river on the small wooden bridge.
- Next, turn right and then follow the Manifold Way all the way to Wetton Mill, crossing the river another 3 times. Here, you’ll find a small café, tea rooms and toilets, which are the only facilities on this route.
Wetton Mill to Wetton Car Park
- The final stage takes a loop around Wetton Hill before bringing you back to the village. To start, take the path from the back of Wetton Mill Tea Rooms heading towards the trees.
- The path is well-trodden as it enters the narrow and steep valley often full of sheep. About 30 metres before the path becomes a tarmacked road and the drystone wall runs across the field on the right, turn right and follow the path slightly uphill until you’re next to the wall.
- Continue walking alongside the drystone wall keeping it to your left-hand side. Once you get to the point where a wired and wooden fence runs to the left in the next field, climb over the drystone wall using the built-in steps and then cross through the stile in the wooden fence.
- Head diagonally across the field until you reach the next fence. Follow the trodden path until you reach another wall about 50 metres from the road and finally you’ll need to pass through the narrow stile to get onto the road.
- From here, it’s a straight route back into Wetton, passing by the Royal Oak, turning right onto Carr Lane to get back to the car park.
Option 4: 4.7-Mile Circular Walk via Ladyside Wood
Distance: 4.7 miles/7.6 kilometres
Elevation gain: 239 metres
Walking time: 2 to 2.5 hours
This is another Thor’s Cave circular walk option for those looking for something more than just seeing the cave. Starting from Wetton Car Park, you’ll visit the cave and then pass through Ladyside Woods, past Wetton Mill and then walk along the Manifold Way back to Wetton.
Wetton Car Park to Thor’s Cave
- As with all the other routes, head west from the car park and then turn right onto Well End Lane. Turn left at the end and join the footpath a few metres down the road, following the signpost for Thor’s Cave.
- Follow the footpath as it continues between the drystone walls before taking the right-hand fork. Next, follow the trodden path across the fields and then down the grassy bank to the entrance of the cave.
- Spend some time enjoying the view over the southern Peak District as well as the interior of the cave. Watch your step as you climb in and out though as it can be very slippery!
Thor’s Cave to Wetton Mill via Ladyside Woods
- From just outside the cave, take the path heading downhill and into the woods. Follow the steps all the way to the bottom and then turn left, crossing over the River Manifold.
- Where the path splits, continue straight and head into Ladyside Woods. After 800 metres, the path forks – take the right-hand path, cross over when it meets the road and continue on the other side.
- After 600 metres, turn to the right and follow the path running parallel to Hoo Brook (keeping the stream to your right-hand side). When the path emerges onto the road, turn right onto the first road and then immediately left. Cross over the bridge in front of you and you’ll be at Wetton Mill! Time for a scrumptious snack?
Wetton Mill to Wetton Car Park via the Manifold Way
- The last section of this walk is to head back to Wetton, following the route that avoids the non-pedestrianised section of the Manifold Way. First, take the path located behind Wetton Mill Tea Rooms that heads towards the trees.
- Then, when the path forks in two, go to the right and follow the trodden path all the way until you reach the fence and stile by the road. Pass through the small parking section and enter the Manifold Way on the other side of the road, then cross over the bridge.
- Continue along the Manifold Way until you reach a small bridge on your right-hand side. Cross this bridge and then continue straight on the path all the way through the woodland and the fields.
- Once you reach the road, exit the field via the stile and walk to the right along the road. Take the first right back down Well End Lane before turning left onto Carr Lane. You’ve made it back to the car park – time for a well-deserved rest!
Thor’s Cave Walk FAQs
Can I take my dog to Thor’s Cave?
Yes, both the walk and the cave are suitable for dogs. In fact, dogs will likely have an easier time climbing up the smoothed-out rock at the entrance to the cave.
Inside the cave, it’s best to keep dogs on leads as it can get busy inside but also because there are lots of crevices, rocks sticking out and tight, dark corners of the cave.
Can kids walk Thor’s Cave?
Absolutely! The short, there-and-back route is suitable for all ages except the very youngest of children, just because it’s a little uneven. The short, circular route to Thor’s Cave can be enjoyed by children around 4 or 5 and up, as long as they’re good on stairs.
However, getting into the cave itself is not the easiest of tasks no matter what your age. With thousands of visitors every year, the rock has become incredibly smoothed out, making it slippery and hard to climb up. Make sure both adults and children wear shoes with good grip and go carefully into the cave.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get a pushchair that near to the cave. The closest you’d probably be able to get is about 60 metres away, just after the main footpath from Wetton forks off towards the cave. After that point, it’s a steep walk down a grassy bank and then a rocky climb to the entrance of the cave.
Is Thor’s Cave walk hard?
Not at all, the shortest two routes will be easy going for even the most inexperienced countryside walker. The two longer walks also do not feature any difficult terrain or long uphill climbs, but their distance could be a challenge for those with mobility problems.
For me, the most difficult part was climbing into Thor’s Cave Peak District. The climb is fairly steep up the rocks but the problem is that the rock is very smooth, meaning you slide backwards all the time. Additionally, as there isn’t much to hold on to, it can be a challenge to get in.
As such, it’s best to wear shoes with good grip. I was wearing an old pair of trainers, thinking that I didn’t mind them getting muddy on the walk. But, as the grip had completely worn away, it was hard to get up into the cave! Go slowly and steadily! Also, when coming back out, many people were simply sliding down the rock on their bums until they could stand up on the lower, more stable section!
How long does it take to walk to Thor’s Cave?
From the nearest parking at Wetton Car Park, you can walk to Thor’s Cave in 15 to 20 minutes.
Of course, with the Peak District having 1000s of miles of footpaths, you can realistically walk from just about anywhere to Thor’s Cave, taking any amount of time! But, the best Thor’s Cave parking is in Wetton due to the availability of free spots, so I recommend walking from there.
How far is Thor’s Cave from the car park?
Thor’s Cave is 0.8 miles from Wetton Car Park along the walking route. This walk will take about 15 or 20 minutes.
If you have any questions or want any more information drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
Prices and offerings mentioned are correct as of August 2022 but are subject to change in future.
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