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Dovedale Circular Walk, Peak District Walks In Derbyshire, England, UK

Dovedale Circular Walk - Peak District Walks

This Dovedale Circular Walk was about 5 miles in distance. The route terrain comprised mostly of valley and field paths; a couple of short lane sections and one steep descent. There were also 9 squeeze-stiles to pass through and 11 stiles to climb over.

Dovedale is the most famous Dale in the Peak District. This route takes you along a valley between Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill before going through Dovedale. Walking beside the River Dove, you get to see this Dale at its best. There is water tumbling over weirs and after passing Lovers’ Leap, there is impressive rock architecture, including Tissington Spires, Reynard’s Cave, Pickering Tor and Ilam Rock.

After passing through woods and along the limestone-cragged gorge of Hall Dale, the return route goes along field paths, a quiet lane and more fields paths. Finally, the side of Bunster Hill is traversed and after descending the hill more fields are crossed to return to Dovedale.

Starting from Dovedale car park, leg one headed north east along a lane and a riverside valley path to curve northwards to reach “Dovedale Stepping Stones”. Leg two headed north west through Dovedale beside the Dove River along a path to a bridge at Ilam Rock.

Leg three continued north west across the river along a woodland path; then turned further westward along Hall Dale valley path to a crossing of path at a stone wall corner. Leg four turned south along field paths to a lane.

Leg five headed south east on a quiet lane section and along field paths to the top of Moor Plantation woods. To complete the walk the sixth and final leg went south to traverse the hillside path of Bunster Hill; then turned south east to descend a hill path and on field paths to The Izaak Walton Hotel; then headed north east on field path, woodland path and track back to Dovedale car park.

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Dovedale Circular Walk Route

The Dovedale Circular Walk route was circular in an anti-clockwise direction with five legs.

Leg 1

On this first leg we started from the Dovedale car park, heading north east by lane and riverside valley path and curve north to reach “Dovedale Stepping Stones”.

  1. To begin we turned right out of Dovedale car park and followed the road along the west bank of the River Dove.
  2. On reaching a footbridge on the right we crossed to the opposite bank and turned left along a riverside footpath.
  3. The path twisted and turned through a narrow dale, between Bunster Hill and Thorpe Cloud.
  4. After passing the “Dovedale Stepping Stones” which went over the River Dove on our left, we walked ahead a little way to reach a squeeze-stile.

Leg 2

Having walked about 0.4 of a mile to this point, the second leg headed north west along Dovedale riverside path to a bridge after Ilam Rock.

  1. After going through the stile we followed a broad riverside path along Dovedale valley.
  2. As we continued on the path, it ascended steps through woods on to the famous rocky outcrop called Lovers’ Leap.
  3. The path then descended and we went through a gate.
  4. We continued ahead, passing the magnificent Tissington Spires and Reynard’s Cave on our right, where a huge natural arch surrounded a much smaller entrance to an historic cave.
  5. As we continued, the Dale narrowed the became close and just above the water surface.
  6. Here we walked along two boardwalks and the path became a little rocky in places before we passed through a gate and the path became smooth again.
  7. As we continued the Dale widened again.
  8. After passing between “Pickering Tor” on our right and “Ilam Rock” on our left, we reached a bridge across the river.

Leg 3

Having walked about 1.7 miles to this point, the third leg continued north west on the other side of the river along a woodland path; then turned more westward along Hall Dale valley path to a path crossing at a stone wall corner.

  1. We turned left off the main path to cross a footbridge over the River Dove, signposted to “Stanshope”.
  2. On the other side of the river, now beneath the huge spire of Ham Rock, a narrow woodland path went to the right beside the river.
  3. As we continued through woodland we ignored a sign post turning for Ilam and followed the path to pass through a squeeze-stile and swing left into “Hall Dale”.
  4. We followed the path along the valley floor as it ascended out of the woods into limestone-cragged gorge called Hall Dale.
  5. As we continued ahead, we crossed over a stile and passed through a gate; then we went through a gated squeeze-stile and over a step-stile.
  6. As the gorge shallowed, the path entered pastureland with Stanshope on the skyline and we continued ahead to reach a crossing of paths at the corner of the wall on our left, at grid reference SK130541.

Leg 4

Having walked about 2.6 miles to this point, the fourth leg turned south along field paths to a lane.

  1. Here we turned left through a gated squeeze-stile in the wall into a field.
  2. We head south across the field parallel to the wall on our left to pass through an open gate next to a stile.
  3. Now with a wall on our right we crossed another field to go through a gated squeeze-stile.
  4. In the next field we followed the right wall and where the wall turned right, we kept straight ahead across the field to go through a gated stile in a wall.
  5. Now in another field, we veered half right beside a wall to cross the field and go through a gated squeeze-stile.
  6. In this next field, the path cut diagonal left to cross the field to go through another gated squeeze-stile in the corner.
  7. Following the right hand wall past a gate, we soon went through yet another gated squeeze-stile on our right.
  8. Now in a final field we again diagonal left to cross the field to go through a final gated squeeze-stile to emerge on Ham Moor Lane, about 250 metres south of Damgate farm.

Leg 5

Having walked about 3.2 miles to this point, the fifth leg headed south east along a lane section and field paths to the top of Moor Plantation woods.

  1. Here we turned left to walk along this quiet country lane and would have had great views if it were not for the mist.
  2. After about 750 metres, we took a footpath on the left, going over a stile into a field.
  3. Here we cut diagonally right to cross a drive and crossing another stile in a wall to the right of the drive into a field.
  4. Here the path continued along a similar line heading south east, traversing the low grassy fell sides towards the corner of the field at the top of Moor Plantation woods.
  5. We crossed another stile in a wall into the next field and followed the line of the wall to our right.
  6. After a while the path veered away from the wall on the right, crossing the field and going through a gate in a wall.

Leg 6

Having walked about 4.2 miles to this point, the sixth and final leg turned south along a hill path to traverse Bunster Hill; then turned south east to descend a hill path and along field paths to The Izaak Walton Hotel; then turned north east on field and woodland paths plus a track back to Dovedale car park.

  1. As the path turned south and we traversed the steep side of Bunster Hill, the path was rocky and fallen away in places.
  2. The path then straddled the south spur of Bunster Hill and turned south east again to descend and meet a wall.
  3. Here we went right over a stile and cut diagonally left across a sloping pasture to cross a stile in a hedge.
  4. Crossing the next pasture we headed to the left of The Izaak Walton Hotel to cross a stile into an enclosure.
  5. We crossed another stile on the other side of the enclosure and headed diagonally left to the north east across a pasture towards the corner of trees.
  6. Here we crossed a stile to follow an enclosed path between trees and down steps onto a track.
  7. Finally, we turned left along the track a short way and passed through a gate back to Dovedale car park at the start.

When Done & With Whom

I did this hike with my partner Anne and one of her work colleagues, Johnathan, whilst on a Derbyshire hiking weekend in October 2013. We drove from our holiday accommodation in Hopton, Derbyshire to the starting location of Dovedale in the Derbyshire Peak District. We parked in Dovedale car park to the west of Thorpe, at grid reference SK146509, which was also the start of the walk.

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