Image of walking


Ilam Park to Dovedale Stepping Stones


Discover the limestone countryside of the southern Peak District, famed for its wildlife and geology.

Plenty to explore from start to finish

Starting at the tranquil Victorian landscape and woodland of Ilam Park, this easy walk takes you into Dovedale, an iconic and spectacular gorge carved out by the river Dove.

The Stepping Stones on the River Dove in Dovedale
The Stepping Stones on the River Dove in Dovedale National Trust Images / John Millar


Map route for Ilam Park to Dovedale stepping stones walk
© Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey


Ilam Park, grid ref: SK132507


Start at Ilam Park and take the footpath towards Ilam church. Look out for the shafts of two 1,000-year-old Saxon crosses in the churchyard.

Read more


Follow the path past the Church into Ilam village. Here you'll find alpine-style houses and a school, provided for locals by Jesse Watts-Russell. Continue until you reach the Mary Watts-Russell Memorial Cross, built in 1840 in memory of Jesse Watts-Russell's wife. Carry on along the road until you leave the village.

Read more


On leaving Ilam village at a lay-by, cross the road, go through a wooden gate and up a short steep slope to the footpath. Turn right onto the track and go through a squeeze stile into the fields, where there are wonderful views of the Manifold Valley.


Follow the paths across the fields behind the Izaak Walton Hotel, named after the author of a book called The Compleat Angler. He fished the River Dove in the mid-17th century. The hills of Thorpe Cloud and Bunster can be seen from this point.

Read more


Cross a stile and follow the footpath downhill to join a road. Turn left and walk along this path, with the River Dove on your right, to enter Dovedale. The name is derived from the old Norse word 'dubo', meaning dark. An information panel here tells you more about the work that we do to care for this area.


Congratulations, you've reached the Stepping Stones - take a minute to absorb the fantastic scenery. Put in place in the middle of the 19th century, the stones have long been a magnet for visitors to the area. Cross the stones to continue your walk or return to Ilam Park.

Read more


Dovedale Stepping Stones, grid ref: SK152514

You made it

Following this trail on mobile or tablet? Share your experience.

Ilam Park to Dovedale Stepping Stones


Mostly even path surfaces but some uneven ground, especially across the field. Stiles and a slight gradient in places.


Ilam Park to Dovedale Stepping Stones

Contact us

Ilam Park to Dovedale Stepping Stones

How to get here

Ilam, Peak District National Park, Derbyshire
By train

Matlock, 11 miles (17.7km); Derby, 21 miles (33.8km).

By road

Ilam Park and Dovedale are near Thorpe about 5 miles (8km) north-west of Ashbourne. Both are signed off A52 and A515.

By bus

Regular service, Ashbourne to Thorpe, and weekend bus to Ilam.

By bicycle

National Cycle Network Route 68, 4 miles (6.5km) east, then along Narlow Lane through Thorpe to Ilam. This road can be busy at times.

Ilam Park to Dovedale Stepping Stones

Facilities and access

  • Tea-room, parking and toilets available at Ilam Park