Walking trail

Ilam Park to the Stepping Stones in Dovedale

Walking trail

Discover the limestone countryside of the southern Peak District, famed for its wildlife and geology. This is a popular walk for families and dog walkers all year round.

Plenty to see as you pass through Ilam village, across fields and into the limestone valley.

The walk starts at Ilam Park, where you'll find parking, refreshments and toilets. Some parts of the walk can be muddy so suitable footwear is advised. You'll pass farm animals along the way so please ensure your dog is under control at all times.

The Stepping Stones on the River Dove in Dovedale


Map route for Ilam Park to Dovedale stepping stones walk


Ilam Park, grid ref: SK132507


Start at Ilam Park and walk away from the hall and towards the surfaced footpath by Ilam church. Look out for the shafts of two 1,000-year-old Saxon crosses in the churchyard. Continue on the path into the village. In the distance you will see Thorpe Cloud, the large flat topped hill.

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Far reaching views across the Italian Garden


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

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On leaving Ilam village at a lay-by, cross the road, go through a small wooden gate and up a short steep slope to the footpath. Turn right onto the stone track and go through a stone squeeze stile into the fields, where there are wonderful views of the Manifold Valley. There may be cattle and sheep in the fields ahead. If you prefer a cattle free (also stile free) route take the alternative route by the squeeze stile and this rejoins the route near the River Dove. This may take slightly longer and include more slopes.

Walk across the fields from Ilam village to Dovefdale


Follow the path 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. Bunster hill is on your left and Thorpe Cloud is ahead of you, with the flat top.

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Sheep and lambs in Ilam Park


Cross a stile and follow the footpath downhill to join a road by a car park and toilets. Turn left and walk along the surfaced path, with the River Dove on your right, to enter Dovedale. The river marks the boundary between the counties of Derbyshire and Staffordshire. On the river you may be able to spot ducks, heron and dipper while sheep graze the steep slopes down to the river.

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Congratulations, you've reached the Stepping Stones - take a minute to absorb the scenery. Put in place in the middle of the 19th century, the stones have long been a magnet for visitors to the area. Spot the fossils in the stones as you cross them. You can cross the stones and continue your walk along the valley on the path, or return to Ilam Park.

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Visitor on the stepping stones across the River Dove in Dovedale, Derbyshire.


Dovedale Stepping Stones, grid ref: SK152514

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Ilam Park to the Stepping Stones in Dovedale


 The route includes several fields that can be muddy and slippery at times. There are several stiles and slopes. Cattle and sheep in fields between Ilam village and Dovedale.


Ilam Park to the Stepping Stones in Dovedale

Contact us

Ilam Park to the Stepping Stones in Dovedale

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 the Stepping Stones in Dovedale

Facilities and access

  • National Trust Tea-room, parking and toilets available at Ilam Park
  • Non NT toilets in Dovedale, 20p charge