Days Out in the Dovedale Area
A stone's throw away from Dovedale, and next to the River Manifold, Ilam has long been a popular destination for tourists looking for a beautiful Derybshire village with unique landscape and architecture. Take a stroll through Ilam Park to witness the stunning contrast of vast, tamed garden against the backdrop of unyielding peaks. The Alpine architecture you'll see around came from a wealthy industrialist, who bought the Hall in the early 1800s, and finding the surroundings reminiscent of the Alps, built a few Swiss-style cottages. Make sure you see some of the ancient woodland which has been designated as site of specific scientific interest.
Lots of people like to see Ilam by taking the aptly named 'Paradise Walk'. A relief from the rugged terrain surrounding Ilam; most of the walk is fairly flat and ideal for those who find walking harder. Although Ilam Hall has now been sold off to the National Trust and runs as a youth hostel, you can still pop in to see the park from a restful viewpoint. Once you've finished why not replenish your energy in the tearooms.
Like Ilam, Tissington is a quintessentially English village not far from Dovedale. Known as the birth-place of well dressing visitors come from all over the world to witness this tradition, held annually. If you happen to be in the area on Ascension Day, be sure to go along to one of the six well-dressing's the village holds.
Another must-see is Tissington Hall which since 1998 has opened up several rooms to the public. Originally built in 1609, its present manifestation dates back to 18th century. As a visitor you are welcomed into the Main Hall, oak-panelled Dining Room, a wonderfully atmospheric library and the East and West Drawing Rooms. It's enough to give you a satisfying taste of what this estate has to offer.
There are some award-winning places to refuel in Tissington, whether it be for a cake and a cuppa or an evening meal.
A gorgeous Georgian market-town, Ashbourne is the nearest main town to Dovedale. Again it offers a stunning and artistic country house: Sudbury Hall. If you want to observe the most exquisite craftsmanship, then this is the place to see, notable are the wonderful mural narratives.
The Museum of Childhood is another very different but fantastic attraction. Nostalgic for an adult, enchanting for a child, it's a surprisingly enjoyable experience and well worth a visit. Of course Ashbourne is most well known as a market town and the markets still run every Thursday and Saturday throughout the year.
A really fun way to meet locals and get to know the true spirit of Ashbourne is to take part in one of their many traditional events. If you're around on Shrove Tuesday or Ash Wednesday, pop down to one of the pubs where you will witness the yearly event of 'Royal Shrovetide'. Everything shuts down (apart from the pubs!) for a huge game of football through the streets. Every 75 years a member of the royal family attends to turn the ball up – in 2003 it was Prince Charles turn.
If you're about in July, try and catch the Highland Gathering, a mini highland games held on the park and culminating in a march through the streets at 6pm.
Well known in September is 'Antiques in the Street' where the whole of the main street is closed to antique dealers who come and set up stalls. You're pretty likely to find a bargain, so don't miss it!
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