thors cave walk cover photo

Thors Cave Walk – 3 Walking Routes (Easy, Moderate, Hard)

The Thors Cave Walk is one of the most famous routes in the Peak District. In this guide, I share the details of this popular hike alongside three walking routes of varying difficulties.

If you’re planning a trip to the Peak District, Thors Cave should be on your list of places to see. A natural cavern 80 metres above the valley floor, it’s a popular attraction with a mythical reputation.

While logic suggests that ‘Thor’ relates to ‘tors’ (meaning hills), many believe it links to Thor, the Norse god of thunder. Regardless of which theory you agree with, the cave is well worth a visit. Not only for its interesting history but for its adventurous nature and unrivalled views.

In this guide, I cover everything you need to know about the Thors Cave walk. I’ll provide easy, moderate, and tough walking routes as well as parking information, maps, and the best time to visit.

aerial view of thors cave and manifold valley
Enjoy this exciting Thors Cave walk!

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Thors Cave Walk FAQs

Before I share the various walking routes to Thors Cave, let’s cover some key information to help you plan accordingly.

How to Get There

The closest Peak District village to Thors Cave is Wetton, toward the south of the Peak District National Park. It’s also accessible via Grindon or Butterton if you don’t mind a longer, more challenging walk.

You can easily access Thors Cave from Wetton in about 15-20 minutes (one way). There are plenty of opportunities to extend your walk should you wish to, with circular walks to Thors Cave also being a possibility.

From Grindon, allow an extra 10-15 minutes each way and from Butterton, an additional 30-40 minutes each way.

educational board of thors cave

Thors Cave Parking

Free parking for Thors Cave is available in Wetton, Grindon, and Butterton; however, spaces are limited.

Keep in mind that weekends and school holidays can get extremely busy, so it’s best to come early in the morning or during the week.

If that’s not possible, Wetton is the most popular starting point for the walk. You may have better luck in Grindon or Butterton during busy times.

Thors Cave Parking Map

Here are the Google map locations for Thors Cave parking in each of the villages.

couple taking a selfie with peak district view

Best Time to Visit

As mentioned above, Thors Cave is a popular Peak District attraction and can get very busy. It’s at its busiest during weekends and school holidays.

If you’re visiting during those times, it might be better to arrive early. That way, you’ll avoid the crowds and won’t have to wait for a parking spot.

If it’s a clear sky, a nice time to visit the cave is during the hour before sunset. The golden light hitting the valley makes the already astonishing views even more magical.

It would be wise to avoid the Thors Cave walk after it’s been raining. The cave’s interior is extremely slippery, so I imagine it would be quite dangerous when wet.

entrance to thors cave
entrance to thors cave

Other Things Worth Knowing

Dogs: Thors Cave is dog-friendly. If your four-legged friend is anything like our Ronnie, they will love the adventure.

Kids: Your kids will love the Thors Cave walk too. So long as they can walk, that is. Unfortunately, there is no pram or pushchair access to the cave.

Bins: There are no bins or facilities at the cave. Please take your rubbish home with you and clean up after your dog.

Viewpoint: A viewpoint sits above Thors Cave that is well worth a visit. Look out for the signpost that guides the way.

Footwear: Entering the cave and navigating the cave itself can be tricky. The rocks are incredibly slippery, so adults and children need proper walking shoes with a good grip.

Map: It’s always good to have an app like All Trails to help you navigate the trails.

thors cave viewpoint overlooking manifold valley
thors cave viewpoint overlooking manifold valley

Hiking Essential Items

Check out our Hiking Must Haves Blog for a list of hiking essentials for each and every adventure. Alternatively, here are some essential items I recommend you have in preparation for your walk:

 

Here are some other essentials for your adventure:

Thors Cave Walking Routes

Now let’s look at 3 walking routes that will allow you to visit Thors Cave. I will start with the easiest route (around 1 hour), then the moderate route (around 2.5 hours), and end on the toughest (around 5 hours).

Easy Thors Cave Walk

thors cave viewpoint overlooking manifold valley

Distance: 1.7m

Ascent: 194ft

Time: 45 – 60 mins

Difficulty: Easy

The easiest walking route to Thors Cave starts in Wetton. It can be completed in as little as an hour, making it one of the best easy walks in the Peak District.

You’ll take a right onto Carr Lane from the free car park in Wetton, followed by another immediate right onto School Lane.

As you approach the end of the road, turn left and join the footpath (aptly named Thors Lane) on your left-hand side. Thors Cave is clearly signposted, so it will be difficult to miss it.

Follow the footpath to the end, where it spears off in 3 directions. Follow the signpost that leads you through a gate and across the field.

thors cave walking trail

By now, you’ll see the grassy rocky mound that Thors Cave lies beneath. Now all you need to do is follow the footpath until you see a signpost for ‘Thors Cave’ and ‘Viewpoint’.

If you have the energy, I recommend the climb up to the viewpoint. It’s an adrenaline-pumping experience sitting on the edge overlooking the mesmerising Manifold Valley below. 

Otherwise, follow the path to the right, leading to the iconic arched entrance into Thors Cave. Spend time exploring and admiring one of the best views in the Peak District before retracing your steps back to Wetton.

Easy Walking Route Map

Moderate Thors Cave Circular Walk

view of thors cave through trees

Distance: 4m

Ascent: 594ft

Time: 2 – 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

This moderate circular walk to Thors Cave also starts in Wetton. It is a bit tougher and longer but will allow you to encounter a variety of terrains and scenery.

Start at the free car park in Wetton, head west on Carrs Lane and take your first right onto School Lane. At the end of the road, turn left and take the Thors Lane footpath on your left-hand side.

Follow the signs for Thors Cave as instructed above. Explore the cave at your leisure before continuing along the route.

viewpoint inside thors cave

Upon leaving the cave, descend the steep steps through the woodland. There are a lot of steps, and they can be slippery when wet, so take care of your footing.

At the bottom of the stairs, cross the small wooden bridge across the river. From there, turn right, and follow the Manifold Way to Wetton Mill.

Wetton Mill is the perfect place for a refreshment stop. It’s home to a scenic picnic area if you have your own or a charming little tea room where you can grab snacks, cakes, and beverages.

sign post leading to thors cave easy walk

Upon leaving Wetton, you can take a short detour to Nan Tor Cave or continue your ascent up into the hills. Expect lots of sheep and beautiful scenery by this point. It may be muddy in wet conditions.

Stick to the trail as you make a gradual incline. The trodden footpath is a good sign that you’re on the right track, but it’s good to have a map handy and check it often to know you’re headed in the right direction.

The trail eventually spears off in multiple directions. Stick to the path on your right to ascend Wetton Hill West and back into the village. Make a stop at the Royal Oak pub for a well-deserved beverage.

Moderate Circular Walk Map

Hard Thors Cave Circular Walk

thors cave circular walk trail past river doe

Distance: 9m

Ascent: 1060ft

Time: 4-5 hours

Difficulty: Hard

This relatively challenging circular walk to Thors Cave also starts at the free car park in Wetton. To get to the cave, follow the exact directions as the two walking routes above.

After admiring the superb views from the cave, descend the steep steps and through the woodland area. At the bottom, cross over the bridge and follow the Manifold Track that snakes alongside the river.

view of thors cave from the manifold way

After around 1/2 a mile, you’ll come to a road. Follow the path to the left of the car park, which will lead you into the picturesque Manifold Valley. Expect sheep, lots of sheep, with rolling green hills in every direction.

Follow the trail across the grass slopes of Wetton Hill and join the country lane for a short while before spearing off into farmland fields. Be sure to stick to marked trails, as it’s easy to get lost. Beware of livestock in these parts – the cows and bulls can be intimidating.

sheep on thors cave walking route
beautiful walking trail peak district
it's a beautiful walking trail in the peak district

The best is yet to come as you reach the River Doe and follow the river through Wolfscote Dale. This was my favourite part of the hike, with enchanting scenery all around.

You’ll meander the river for 2 miles or so with the serene sounds of the river as your soundtrack before making the steep ascent out of the valley.

Pass through the charming village of Alstonefields; there’s a pub called The George for those interested before returning to Wetton.

walking trail next to the river doe
cave on thors cave circular walk
another cave on thors cave circular walk

Hard Circular Walk Map

Enjoy Thors Cave Walk

I hope you have as much fun as we did walking to Thors Cave. This is, without doubt, one of the best Peak District walks. If you have any questions feel free to reach out in the comments below. 

Stay adventurous and Happy travels.

Planning a trip around the Peak District? Check out our England series for more travel tips and advice. 

Charlotte & Natalie
If you enjoyed our free guide, you could support us by buying us a coffee! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, where we share more travel advice and inspiration. Charlotte & Natalie x

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Charlotte & Natalie

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We’re Charlotte & Natalie, a British lesbian couple with a passion for travel and adventure.
Here you will find everything from LGBTQ+ travel & lifestyle advice, to comprehensive guides and itineraries designed to make your travel planning easier.
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