Dovedale and Milldale
Dovedale is a famously pretty part of the Peak District. This walk combines a very popular route with an optional extension taking in a quieter part of the river. The walk can be halved in length by turning back when you get to Milldale (i.e. staying
|Est. Time:||5 hrs 40 mins|
|Total Ascent:||1253 ft|
|Total Descent:||1207 ft|
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Riverside walk along the River Dove - one of England's prettiest valleys
Dovedale stepping stones
Dove Holes (caves)
Gorge and woodland
Striking limestone features
Starting from the National Trust car park (close to the Isaak Walton hotel) the walk follows the River Dove most of the way, using a broad, well marked and popular path. Turning right out of the car park, follow the main path as far as the stepping stones, then cross to the other bank, turn left and continue to follow the river. (NB if the river is in spate, or if you are nervous about crossing stepping stones, the river can be crossed via a footbridge close to the National Trust car park)
Follow the path as far as Milldale (GR141547), which provides a pleasant point for a break. Some walkers may prefer to turn back from here point and halve the length of the walk. To this point you have already covered the most popular part of the walk and, by continuing, you will discover quieter, less crowded parts of Dovedale. Milldale has a tiny shop in one of the cottages, from which you can buy food and hot drinks.
To continue the walk, follow the road with the river on your right until you reach a road junction at Shining Tor (GR145551). Cross the bridge over the river (to the right) then turn left onto the footpath, with the river on your left.
The "shining" effect is not always visible, but it happens often enough to have given it the name Shining Tor. This feature marks the point where you cross the bridge back to the riverside footpath.
Follow the footpath alongside the river. It is not as broad as the popular section you followed up to Milldale, but it rarely strays more than a few yards from the riverside and, where it is poorly defined, you only need to continue a short way to rediscover the path. Keep on this route unti you reach the next crossing point - a footbridge at Wolfscote (GR128587).
Cross the bridge, walk on road for about 50 yards and, where the road begins to head uphill, turn left onto a footpath. Follow that footpath through open fields, past Narrowdale, maintaining a southerly direction until you reach a farm track (GR128568) heading to the right and leading to a public road. Turn left on the road, heading towards the village of Alstonefield (GR130555). Continue ahead through the village, taking Church Lane, which goes past the church and heads down into Milldale.
From Milldale, cross the footbridge and rejoin the path you used earlier in the day. Follow that path back to the car park. An alternative option at the end of the walk is to walk past the stepping stones, not crossing the river, and follow the path until you reach a footbridge. Cross that bridge and turn left to reach the car park.
This is generally a safe route and, as far as Milldale, a very popular one. In summer time you will have a lot of company, especially at the start of the walk. Beyond Milldale the route follows roads for part of the way, with the obvious need for care. And the paths are much less used. No part of the walk is especially steep, but take care if you divert from the route to investigate the caves.
Dovedale is famously pretty and is a popular area for walking and family picnics. The area around the stepping stones is particularly popular and may be crowded on holiday weekends. For a quieter walk, choose less popular times or go on a day when the weather is less attractive. This route is pretty enough to look good even in poor weather.
The section beyond Milldale is much less popular and will offer more solitude at any time of year. It is more open, less wooded and not as "chocolate box" in its appeal. But its wilder aspect is worth seeing, if you are willing to go the extra miles.
The Issac Walton hotel, close to the start of the walk, is named in celebration of the author of "The Compleat Angler", the first expert book on the sport of fishing to be published in English. He loved this area and has been responsible for bringing msany tourists to follow in his footsteps.