Plan ahead to avoid busy times
Popular spots like Ilam Park, Manifold Valley and Dovedale get extremely busy with car parks filling up by 9am on weekends, bank holidays and school holidays. Planning ahead and checking our social media channels for updates is advised.
Total steps: 7
Total steps: 7
Ilam Park, grid ref: SK132507
Start at Ilam Park and walk away from the hall and towards the surfaced footpath by Ilam church.
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. Head over the road before the stone bridge and walk past the postbox on your right.
On leaving Ilam village, after the last house, cross the road and go through a small wooden gate. There are steps up to the footpath. Turn right onto the stone track and continue along the base of Bunster Hill, grazed by sheep and lambs.
At the first gate on the path there are two route options for you to choose from. You can continue through the gate and across the fields towards Thorpe Cloud, which will include further gates, and passes through fields of cows and sheep. Alternatively, turn left before the gate and walk beside the drystone wall. This route avoids cows but will take 10 minutes longer. This is the recommended route for walkers with dogs.
The route across the fields passes behind the Izaak Walton Hotel, named after the author of the book 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.
The path will go downhill to join the surfaced track by Dovedale car park and the public toilets (20p charge, not National Trust). Turn left and walk along the track into the valley, passing a small wooden bridge on your right. Welcome to Dovedale. The River Dove is on your right, at the base of Thorpe Cloud. The river marks the boundary between Derbyshire and Staffordshire
Congratulations, you have reached the Stepping Stones - take a moment to look around and absorb the scenery.
Dovedale Stepping Stones, grid ref: SK152514
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