Walking trail

Walk 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.

Plenty to explore from start to finish

Starting at Ilam Park, this easy walk takes you into Dovedale, a spectacular limestone gorge carved out by the River Dove.

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 take the footpath towards 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.

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The Italian Garden at Ilam Park


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 passing the postbox until you leave the village.

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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 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.


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

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Thorpe Cloud in winter


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. Look out for dippers, ducks and heron by the river.


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. 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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Walk Ilam Park to the Stepping Stones in Dovedale


Mostly even path surfaces but some uneven ground, especially across the fields. Stiles and a slight gradient in places. Cattle and sheep in fields between Ilam village and Dovedale.


Walk Ilam Park to the Stepping Stones in Dovedale

Contact us

Walk 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.

Walk Ilam Park to the Stepping Stones in Dovedale

Facilities and access

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