A Circular Walk around Dovedale
Dovedale is probably my favourite area in the whole of the Peak District and as a keen hiker, it is a location that I can come back to several times and continue to discover new treasures. Whilst it's doubtless more famous for the stepping stones across the river and the limestone gorges, the real beauty of the valley can only truly be appreciated by exploring it on foot. If you're keen to do so, this 10 mile circular walk will give you a fantastic flavour of what Dovedale has to offer.
Start from Thorpe Village and follow the footpath going north to Lin Dale until you come to the base of Thorpe Cloud, one of the more famous and beautiful peaks that Dovedale boasts. Continue along the footpath until you reach the River Dove. Here, turn right and walk upstream. The River Dove is one of the most renowned fishing spots in the Peak District, especially well known for its scores of Brown Trout. No doubt you will pass several anglers on your route and if you're lucky you might be able to see them land somebody's dinner.
After about 3 miles you should come to Mill Dale which is a peaceful and rarely explored area of the valley. Once here, turn uphill away from the path to the left. After around a mile you will come to the little village of Hope (not to be confused with its larger counterpart near Castleton). Home to a costume museum, it is well worth stopping to have a look around and partake in a pint or two at the local pub. From here, head uphill to the south west and go straight ahead at the cross roads. Shortly after the crossroads there is a stile to the left and a hilly path takes you past Hope Hall and down to the bottom of the valley.
When you reach the junction of the road take a left turn towards and into the village of Ilam. Studied by many students of ecology and geology, this historic village is treasured by the National Trust for its history and special environment. From Ilam follow the road back towards Thorpe and cross over the River Dove at the entrance to the Izaak Walton Hotel (where you can adjust the walk to start and finish). Follow the footpath to Thorpe and the church and you should be able to see the carpark again within a mile.
This is one of the simplest walks around Dovedale and it's hard to get lost. If you're looking for a tougher climb, you could do worse than going up Thorpe Cloud itself and enjoying the panoramic view of the valley from the summit. Whichever route you decide to take, Dovedale is one of the finest walking spots not just in the Peak District, but in the whole country.
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