Manifold Valley: Ilam Park to Wetton circular walk
This circular 10 mile walk starts and finishes at Ilam Park. This is a more challenging route so suitable outdoor clothing and footwear are advised.
Take the lead
Please help to minimise disturbance to grazing farm animals and wildlife by keeping your dog on a lead.
Ilam Park, grid ref: SK132507
Leave the stableyard and walk towards the car park, taking the black metal gate into the parkland. Continue across the parkland and down the rough stone track towards the River Manifold, where you turn right. Continue on the path with the river on your left until you reach the road and River Lodge. Turn left, cross the cattle grid and after around 100 metres keep straight on, signed Casterne Farms. Follow this road uphill until you reach Castern Hall. Proceed to the rear of the hall and over a cattle grid.
Now a private residence, this was once one of three lodge entrances to Ilam Hall.
Follow the wooden finger post signed to Wetton. The footpath here follows a track with a drystone wall on your left, for two fields. In the third field head right slightly, uphill, to the far wall and a field gate. Cross the fourth field moving away from the wall towards the top left corner. On reaching the small wood, bear left to cross the end of a former lead rake (lead was once mined in this area) and head for a small gate to access the ridge path. Turn right and keep the wall on your right. Continue north along this path. Cross a high stile and reach Larkstone Lane. Cross the lane and walk through two fields with the wall on your left. In the third field, go uphill and you'll be rewarded with far reaching views. Bear right, looking out for a stile in the right-hand wall. Continue with this heading across the next four fields, to reach a short track to enter Wetton village.
Turn right, then after around 10 metres turn left. Immediately after the Royal Oak pub, turn left and walk through the churchyard to meet the road by the Old School Tea-room. Turn left to follow the road the the T-junction.
Many of the cottages in Wetton village have the distinctive colours of the Devonshire estate properties. The nearby Ecton Hill was once a productive copper mine for the Duke of Devonshire and provided copper for the Royal Navy.
Turn right and after a few metres look out for the concessionary path on your left, signed to Thor's Cave. Take this path, and at the second stile cross into the field on your right continuing downhill with the wall on your left. Go through the small gate. Thor's Cave is ahead of you now. Take the stepped path down to the former narrow gauge railway track, now the Manifold Trail. Turn left.
With the river on your left, continue as far as Larkstone Lane at Weags bridge. Keep straight ahead on the track that runs parallel to the Manifold Trail passing a caravan site and crossing the River Hamps. The track moves away from the river at Beeston Tor Farm and climbs gently. Once past a derelict barn, look for a field gate and a green "Peak and Northern Footpaths" sign pointing to Throwley and Calton. Aim just to the left of trees on the brow of the hill. Go through the gate, towards another stand of trees. Your gate is in the wall near the left end of the trees.
Enter the farm, join the road and turn left. Follow the road sign for Ilam and continue along this road down the hill until you meet Rushley Farm on your right. Follow the road left and after a few metres look for a footpath on your right. Continue straight on for five fields. In the fifth field look for a squeeze stile in the left wall, heading towards the footbridge over the River Manifold.
After crossing the bridge, turn right onto the path and through the wooden gate. Continue along the path, with Hinkley Wood and the River Manifold to your right. You will pass the Saxon cross on your left before walking under the huge lime lined Paradise Walk. Look out for the Boil Holes rising either side of the path - this is where the subterranean waters of the Hamps River and Manifold River emerge. Soon after the path slopes up away from the river and steps lead you to the spiral stone staircase and up into the Italian Garden.
Go around Castern Hall and just behind the hall take a track on the left. Follow this track around the hillside until, at the third field it starts to climb away from the valley. Branch left towards the left-hand corner of the field and go through a gate to a path at the top edge of the cliff leading down to the Manifold.
Follow the cliff edge past the spoil-tips of lead-mines and then follow it to the right, away from the river, through a small dale.
Cross the head of the dale where you will emerge onto the tiny road which links Weags Bridge with Alstonefield. Go over a stile on the far side of the road and follow the path which skirts Wetton Low to return to the village.
Wetton village, grid ref: SK109555
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