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Three Shires Head Walk & Waterfall (7km Circular Route)

Three Shires Head Walk & Waterfall (7km Circular Route)

Immerse yourself in the alluring charm of the Peak District with my guide to the Three Shires Head Walk and Waterfall. 

Uncover the delight of this circular route, beginning and ending at the Clough House Car Park, as you traverse through varied landscapes of rolling hills, trickling streams, and the iconic Three Shires Head. 

Not only will this picturesque hike lead you to the famed Three Shires Head – a stunning spectacle where three counties meet – but you’ll also discover opportunities for wild swimming in natural pools and cascading waterfalls. 

So whether you’re a keen walker, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply longing for a tranquil escape, this journey through the heart of the Peak District promises a unique experience!

Getting to the Three Shires Head Waterfall

To get to the Three Shires Head Waterfall you’ll need to park or get dropped off on the A54 and walk in. Alternatively, you can park at the nearby Clough House Car Park, which is where this mapped route starts.

Three Shires Head – By Car & Parking

  1. Clough House Car Park (Free) 

What Three Words: ///blast.sweetly.introduce

Postcode: SK11 0BD

Clough House is the main car park in the area and offers a fairly large amount of parking space. 

Parking is free, although there are no toilets or water fountains. There are, however, a number of picnic benches next to the steam, which is nice on a warm day.

clough house car park start point for three shires head walk
  1. Layby along the A54

If you want to get even closer to the Three Shires Head waterfall there are a couple of laybys which I’ve observed people parking in along the A54, although there are only a limited number of spaces.

The locations were:

You’ll then have to walk up the road or cut across to rejoin the path this article discusses.

Public Transport

To my knowledge, there are no public transport options to get close to the three Shires’ head waterfalls. 

The closest towns with major train stations are Macclesfield (18-minute drive), and Buxton (11-minute drive), so it may be possible to get a taxi there and back from those stations.

Get dropped off at ///snack.appealing.metals. This is the closest place, just a 10-15 minute walk from here.

Three Shires Head Walking Maps & Routes

There are a few routes to get to the Three Shires head waterfall, but to make things interesting, I planned a circular route, which can be customised to your preference and needs. 

Circular 7KM (4.53mi) Route

This route starts off at clough house car park, with a gradual ascent, towards the steepest point of the walk (get it over early!), and leads down to the Three Shires head waterfall just before the halfway mark. You then head over to the charming village of Wildboarclough, where you have options to extend or shorten the walk.

Download file for GPS

View OS Map Online

  1. Head out of the car park, past the farm yard, across the road and through a gate.
clough house car park three shires head
  1. Start the ascent, where you’ll cross over a small footbridge, followed by a gate.
three shires head walk over bridge and through gate
  1. Keep heading up the hill, past the abandoned cottage, until you reach a small waterfall and gate.
three shires head walk gate and turn right
  1. Turn RIGHT, and keep meandering uphill, where you’ll start to level out and see a main road (This is the highest point of the route).
three shires head walk highest point
  1. You’ll need to cross the road, taking a left and climbing down the large metal staircase.

Note: This is a fast, busy road, and the path is quite steep and narrow to cross, so it’s best to be mindful here. 

three shires head walk meets A54
  1. Head through the farmer’s fields, following the stream in sections, till it joins up to river Dane, with a gate and bridge, the path will be more clear now. Simply follow it along until the arched bridge and the iconic three shires head. One of the most popular Peak District Waterfalls!
path down to the three shires head waterfall

You may wish to spend some time here and even try some popular three shires head swimming!

three shires head waterfall with people
  1. Once you finished with here, continue on the same path as it follows high up over the river and snakes up and around the hill, until you reach a road. 
path up hill after three shires head waterfall
  1. Cross over the road and through the over a stile until you reach the A54 again at another point. 
three shires head walk crossing back across a54
  1. Keep following the path, over the walkways through the gate, and you will then drop into a wooded area that connects with the road.
three shires head path through wood and rocky
  1. From a little further down the road, you can decide to shorten or lengthen the route:
    1. You can take the next right turn, which leads straight back to the carpark
    2. Follow the road a little further down, until you reach the church, where you’ll follow the track round and back to the carpark
    3. Or extend the route by continuing past the church and joining the footpath again, following it back round to the car park.
Three Shires Head Walking Map ending routes _ OS Maps

Three Shires Head Amenities & Facilities

There are no amenities or facilities in or around the Three Shires Head waterfall and car park. 

Make sure you bring everything you need and be prepared to bring it all back.

Clough House Car Park is basic but does have some picnic benches.

I couldn’t see any nearby pubs that were open, but Buxton is a 10-15 minute drive where you’ll have everything you’ll need, such as large Morrisons and lots of food and drink choices. 

Three Shires Head Walk & Waterfall – FAQs

How do you get the Three Shires Head?

To get to the Three Shires Head Waterfall, you can park or get dropped off on the A54 and then walk in. Another option is to park at the Clough House Car Park, which is where the mapped 7km circular route starts. 

Please note that there are no public transport options that take you directly to the waterfall. 

The closest towns with major train stations are Macclesfield and Buxton, from where you could possibly take a taxi.

Where do you park to walk to Three Shires Head?

The main parking option for those visiting Three Shires Head is the Clough House Car Park. It’s free to use, and there are picnic benches, but no other amenities. 

There are a few laybys along the A54 that can be used for parking as well, although spaces are limited. The exact locations for these laybys are ///snack.appealing.metals and ///fidelity.adjust.fairway.

Is the Three Shires Head walk dog friendly?

Yes, the Three Shires Head walk is dog friendly. It offers an excellent opportunity for dogs to explore the beautiful countryside, enjoy the fresh air, and cool off in the water.

Just be careful around the busy roads. 

If you’re looking to stay over, view our article on the best Peak District dog-friendly hotels.

Can you swim in the Three Shires Head?

Yes, you can swim at Three Shires Head. 

Many visitors take advantage of the opportunity to take a dip in the three small pools and under the waterfalls. However, swimming here will depend on the water level, and you should always consider your ability before getting in the water.

How long does it take to walk Three Shires Head?

The circular route at Three Shires Head is approximately 7km in length, or about 4.53 miles. The time it takes to complete this walk can vary greatly depending on your pace, the weather conditions, and how often you stop to rest or appreciate the waterfalls. 

Generally, it might take around 2-3 hours.

How hard is the Three Shires Head walk?

The walk at Three Shires Head involves a gradual ascent towards the steepest point of the walk at the beginning and then descends towards the waterfall. 

The trail can be a bit challenging because of the elevation gain and uneven surfaces, but it’s manageable for people with a moderate level of fitness. 

In wet conditions, the paths can also be muddy and slippy, so bring your walking boots!