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Dovedale, spectacular limestone gorge between Derbyshire and Staffordshire

The Peak District covers much of Derbyshire and parts of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. There are numerous interesting towns such as Ashbourne, Bakewell, Buxton, Leek, Matlock and Wirksworth, plus many enchanting villages

Dovedale and Thorpe Cloud

good for childrenopportunities for exercisespectacular scenery

Ilam Rock
Ilam Rock
Dovedale is the name given to the section of the Dove valley between Milldale and Thorpe Cloud, which contains some of the most spectacular limestone gorge scenery available in this country. Everywhere the river is flanked by steep cliffs, with numerous caves and rock pillars, of which Ilam Rock is only the most spectacular.

Below Ilam Rock the valley narrows, and the path even has a short stretch where duck-boards have been erected to save walkers from having to wade the river. Then it opens out again and high on the left lies Reynard's Cave, a large cave with a natural arch in front. From the cave you have a fine view of the Dale.

Reynards Cave
Reynards Cave
Below here there are more crags - Tissington Spires - which are almost like blades or fins of rock alongside the river. The next stretch of the river is again narrow and craggy, so the path climbs up the hillside above Lover's Leap to pass Sharplow Point and then down to emerge at the famous stepping-stones where Dovedale meets Lindale, overlooked by the conical mass of Thorpe Cloud. This is the end of the gorge, and soon after the Dove is joined by the Manifold for the combined river to meander through gentler and less exciting countryside to eventually meet the Trent near Burton.

The Stepping Stones
The Stepping Stones
The river is a well known trout fishing area, made famous by Izaak Walton in his classic 17th century book 'The Compleat Angler', and you will frequently see anglers by the side of the river.

View from Thorpe Cloud
View from Thorpe Cloud
The classic view of the lower section of Dovedale is obtained from the summit of Thorpe Cloud, the conical hill which guards the entrance to the valley. The hill can be climbed from any direction, though erosion has caused the owners, the National Trust, to direct visitors up particular routes. The easiest ascent is from Thorpe village along the ridge on the eastern side.

The view is superb, with Dovedale laid out below you, Alstonefield on the northern horizon and Ilam Hall clearly visible to the west. On the north side of the hill the deep-cut valley of Lindale descends to the Dove and at their junction are the famous stepping-stones which thousands of visitors use each year to start their trip up the valley. This is not a place to come on a summer Sunday unless you like crowds!

Dovedale from below Thorpe Cloud
0 - Dovedale from below Thorpe Cloud
Dovedale - The Stepping Stones
1 - Dovedale - The Stepping Stones
Dovedale - The Stepping Stones on a busy day
2 - Dovedale - The Stepping Stones on a busy day
Thorpe Cloud from the river Dove
3 - Thorpe Cloud from the river Dove
Thorpe Cloud - The view up Dovedale
4 - Thorpe Cloud - The view up Dovedale
Thorpe Cloud - Descending towards Lindale
5 - Thorpe Cloud - Descending towards Lindale
Dovedale - The Twelve Apostles
6 - Dovedale - The Twelve Apostles
Dovedale - Tissington Spires
7 - Dovedale - Tissington Spires
Dovedale - Reynards Cave
8 - Dovedale - Reynards Cave
Dovedale - Ilam Rock
9 - Dovedale - Ilam Rock
Dovedale - Raven's Tor
10 - Dovedale - Raven's Tor
Ordnance Survey Grid Reference: SK146508 Click here for Google Maps

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How to get there

By Road:
take the A515 Buxton road out of Ashbourne and turn left to Thorpe after 2km. Follow the road through Thorpe, cross the bridge over the River Dove and turn right to the privately owned car park (charge of approximately 2). To reach Milldale, continue north about 10km from Ashbourne and turn left to Alstonefield. After crossing the river, turn left again to Milldale. Restricted pay and display parking.

By Bus: the 443 bus from Ashbourne will take you to past the Thorpe Cloud and the entrance to Dovedale. The 441 bus from Hartington goes to Milldale at the top end of Dovedale - this connects with the 442 Buxton-Ashbourne bus.
When is it open?

National Trust access land. No restrictions.

Useful links:

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