England,  Routes

Three Shires Head: Wild Swim Walk in The Peak District


Three Shires Head: Peak District, UK

Three Shires Head is a circular route with a beautiful water feature about halfway round. This is one of those walks where you’ve seen pictures and it looks good…but it didn’t look quite as stunning on those picture as it does in real life!

The whole display of the natural waterfall is so spectacular and relaxing to look at. The water is SO clear and on a warm day you’ll just want to get in!

Three Shire Head’s History

This route is part of the Peak District in England, UK and The name; Three Shires Head comes from the fact that it is at the point where Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire meet. What’s more, the bridge was once very important as it was used as a main trading route, back in the day.


This walk was a total of 9.1km distance for us. (This includes a few detours, as we went the wrong way and did a little extra exploring!) so it is probably a bit less distance than that if you follow our route below. (where we haven’t included the ‘detours’ 😉)


The total time for this walk was 4hours17mins. However, this is with us stopping at the waterfalls for a while, as well as stopping for pictures throughout the walk and walking back in the dark. This route could be done much quicker.


You can park for free at The Roaches Gradbach Carpark.

Follow the postcode below, however, the postcode may take you past the turning for the carpark down to another road and ask you to turn around to come back on yourself to then take the turn for the car park. This depends on which way you are coming from, as the turning is quite sharp, so that is why.

Post code: SK17 0SU

Hiking area 53.2138, -1.9869

Starting The Three Shires Head Walk

So, lets start at the beginning, start the Three Shires Head Walk by parking at The Gradbach Carpark and heading over the little bridge that crosses the river. This then takes you onto an open field, if you walk across the field with the river to your left you will come to a little gate that takes you onto a road.

Turn right at the road, and head up the hill, until you come to a left turn, take the left turn and you will see a sign for ‘Three Shires Head’ next to a gate.

Then take the gate onto the field and follow with the stoned walls to your left.

Continuing the walk

The route now, pretty much follows the wall uphill for approx. 2km across all the fields, you will pass the horses, the cows and the sheep before coming to a grassy man-made ‘path’. Here you should see a house straight a head of you, then you need to get onto the path and go left.

The views as you walk up the field are beautiful and the animals just get on with their day as you pass by, it is so peaceful.

As you follow the path you will see another building ahead of you to your left and the path will continue round to the right. You will soon come to another ‘Three Shires Head’ sign. However, someone with a sense of humor has put an arrow pointing both left and right, with a picture of Denis the Mennis to confuse us! Although, this made it quite fun and we did rock paper scissors to decide which way to go.

Rock, Paper, Scissors done, I won and therefore in this route, we go right at this point. So, this again is a incline of a grassy, gravely and slightly muddy ‘path’. When you reach the level ground again you head left and keep following the path… You are nearly there!

Reaching the Three Shires Head Waterfalls

The stoned path will start to take a slight decline and you will soon hear the sounds of the waterfalls streaming down the river. So, look down to your left and you will spot one! Not long after this you will reach the beautiful Three Shires Head waterfalls and pools!

To be honest it was like a pretty picture, we didn’t expect it to be quite so stunning.

Spending time at the Waterfalls

We were lucky, as we went quite late in the afternoon, we were the only people there. I mean we saw some people enroute but no one else was at the main spot when we reached it. Therefore, we spend some time enjoying the beauty and we even got in the pool! It was freezing as the sun had gone down by this point but it was so refreshing.

Tip: If you head here as the sun is going down make sure you wear some bite repellent as we got bitten to pieces by the water! Eek.

Heading back

We headed back during sunset, so our route back soon got dark. However, if you cross over the bridge at the waterfalls and head back on the opposite side to where you came from, you follow this path until you come to a gate on your left, take this gate down into the field of cows. Where you will see a stoned wall and another gate and then a second stone wall, head through this and down onto the path towards the farmhouse.

Alternatively, you can head down the path away from the house and follow it round until you come to the denis the mennis sign again and you can head back over the same fields you come on.

But for the circular route we did, pass the house with it on your left and follow the path you will soon come to a sign that sign that says Gradbach, you will know youre on the right path to the carpark.

Following this path all the way you will eventually come to a junction. At the junction take a left and continue to follow the path down, you will soon pass over a bridge over the stream and then you will come onto the road where you started. Take the gate on your right back over the field that you crossed at the beginning and back over the little bridge to the carpark.

Additional Information

Don’t forgot to prepare for your hike; read Our Hiking Bag Essentials blog for help on what to take with you! And if you are a beginner you may also find Our Top 5 Hiking Tips helpful.

Swimming at Three Shires Head: Yes, you can swim at The Three Shires Head, always be careful when wild swimming. But also, Enjoy!

Tip: If you are visiting on a warm day, bring swim wear and a towel! You wouldn’t want to miss out on a dip once you’re there.

Thank you for readying, we hope you find this blog helpful. If you plan to visit after reading this, let us know in the comments.

Lu & Ad



If you enjoyed the read, check out the Vlog version below…

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