Dovedale is a National Nature Reserve dominated by ancient ash woodland, wildflower-rich grassland and a river full of wildlife. Thousands of people visit each year to enjoy the sense of wilderness in this special area of countryside.

Visiting Dovedale

White Peak rangers will be tackling ash dieback this October, therefore visitors are advised to make themselves aware of closures in the area by regularly checking our website, Peak District social media channels and onsite signage - thank you in advance.

*Please note - In order to carry out this work with the optimum consideration for our team’s safety and the safety of others visiting Dovedale, it is extremely likely that we will need to close the path between Lovers Leap and Ilam Rock Bridge for the month of October 2019. This will allow our rangers to carry out the work quickly and efficiently and in the safest way possible.*

*As work continues, other paths may also be affected, so if planning a visit to Dovedale in October, the public are asked to make themselves aware of these additional closures by checking onsite signage and checking updates on our Peak District social media channels. *

Dovedale is open countryside and there are no facilities beyond the entrances. There are many ways you can help us to look after this National Nature Reserve and at the same time ensure your safety and help everyone enjoy their visit by reading the following:

  • Avoid climbing on scree slopes (loose rock) and be aware of the chance of rockfall.
  • Barbeques and open fires are not permitted, to reduce the risk of wildfires.
  • Please keep your dog on a lead to avoid disturbance to grazing livestock and other visitors in Dovedale.
  • Please take all litter home with you and help to protect this National Nature Reserve
  • Consider whether you’re equipped for the route you choose – Thorpe Cloud is steep with uneven ground, and we recommend walking boots
  • The flying of drones is not permitted, to ensure the safety of all visitors to Dovedale.
  • The walking route between the Stepping Stones and Milldale includes steps, boardwalks and uneven ground as the footpath follows the River Dove for 3 miles.
  • Please be aware that there is virtually no mobile phone reception in Dovedale and the surrounding area.There are public telephone boxes in the villages of Thorpe and Ilam.
The Stepping Stones on the River Dove in Dovedale
The Stepping Stones on the River Dove in Dovedale
The Stepping Stones on the River Dove in Dovedale

Stepping Stones

Dovedale’s famous stepping stones are less than half a mile from the main car park. Please be aware that this path leads to the stepping stones but they are the only way across the river beyond this point. Alternatively, you can cross the river by the bridge here but the route alongside the river is rough and sometimes floods.

Whatever the season, after heavy rainfall the river level may rise and flood the stepping stones and some parts of the footpaths. There are alternative walking routes in the area, on higher ground, please refer to a map to choose a different walk if you need to.

A useful website to check the latest river level is available here

A waymarked route to Thorpe Cloud summit

Our ranger team are currently installing a waymarked route to the summit of Thorpe Cloud. This route will be a marked with blue posts and will help to reduce the risk of rockfall and lower the impact of erosion. Visitors to the area will see work happening from August 5th and further updates will be available via our Peak District social media channels.

Thorpe Cloud in the Peak District
Thorpe Cloud rises above the Stepping Stones in Dovedale
Thorpe Cloud in the Peak District

Car parking

There is a car park at Dovedale open daily throughout the year. This is not a National Trust car park and the parking charge applies to all visitors using the car park.

The nearest National Trust car park to Dovedale is located 1 mile along the road at Ilam Park. National Trust members can park at Ilam Park for free, non members can use the pay and display machine. There are also toilets, a tea-room and National Trust shop at Ilam Park. 

It is a 1.5 mile walk across farmland between Ilam Park and Dovedale, which is unsuitable for buggies and wheelchairs due to gates, stiles and uneven ground. You can use the trail to find your way between the two places.


There are toilets located beside Dovedale car park, managed by Peak District National Park Authority. There is a 20p charge to use these. There are also free public toilets at Milldale.

Dovedale Barn

Our team of friendly volunteers and mobile information barn stands near the bridge in Dovedale between Easter and October each year. In the barn you'll find a range of useful walking guides and maps to purchase, as well as toys, postcards and gifts. The volunteer team are happy to recommend walking routes if you fancy exploring further.

Dovedale Barn
A warm welcome at Dovedale Barn
Dovedale Barn


Dovedale is a popular spot for photographers and dippers, heron, buzzards and ducks are often spotted along the River Dove. 

Spot dippers on the river
Dipper bird on the water
Spot dippers on the river