Things to do at Ilam Park, Dovedale and the White Peak
With its rolling hills, limestone cliffs and picturesque river views, Ilam Park, Dovedale and the White Peak is a popular destination for walks, discovering nature, unearthing fossils and finding stunning views. Explore what you can do in the area.
Escape the hustle and bustle when exploring Ilam Park and take in the far-reaching views towards Thorpe Cloud, discover paths through the woodlands and look out for wildlife by the River Manifold. There are plenty of spaces to play, sit or walk the dog. Whatever the season you can explore outdoors.
A favourite with families and walkers, you'll find the famous stepping stones in Dovedale, a National Nature Reserve, with stunning ravine woodlands, wildlife and views. Spot fossils in the limestone rock formations and look out for dippers and yellow wagtails bobbing along the River Dove.
If you love Dovedale then be sure to take all your litter home with you, always keep dogs on leads, do not bring barbecues, campfires or outdoor cooking equipment with you as these are not allowed. Please be aware that there is no phone signal in this area, so plan your day with this in mind.
You can walk across the fields between Ilam Park and Dovedale and enjoy both places in a day. There are sheep, lambs and cows in some of the fields. Please keep your dog on a short lead to help minimise disturbance to the farm animals. It is 1½ miles from Ilam Park to the stepping stones in Dovedale.
Please remember, this ravine woodland has many areas of loose rock and uneven ground. Please do not climb on loose rock and suitable footwear is advised for exploring this area.
Explore the Manifold Valley and its lush green grasslands, thick woodlands and limestone crags. Climb up high for far-reaching views or to discover Ecton Engine House on Ecton Hill. It was built in 1788 when large amounts of copper were mined here by the Duke of Devonshire.
The valley is a popular destination for cyclists and is ideal for families or those new to cycling. Along the way listen out for birds including buzzards soaring high above the limestone rock formations.
Summer at Ilam Park, Dovedale and the White Peak
In summer, tune in your senses to reconnect with nature that is all around you - crouch down and take a closer look at the bugs on the ground or stand close to a tree and listen to the birdsong in the tree canopy above. Spot dippers diving across the river, buzzards soaring high above and yellow wagtails bobbing about.
The best woodlands in the White Peak
Tissington Spires in Dovedale
Half a mile north of Lover’s Leap on the main Dovedale path, Tissington Spires is a series of towering crags that are blanketed in woodland that somehow cling to the steep faces. It’s one of the best and most accessible examples of truly wild ravine woodland.
Woodlands of the Hamps Valley
Take a walk along the Manifold track through the Hamps valley and you’ll be surrounded by a history of working woods – woodsmen of the past coppiced hazel here to make baskets for transporting pots from the Potteries of the Midlands.
Whether it's a stroll by the River Manifold, a wander through ancient ravine woodlands or a hike over the hilltops, there are plenty of walks to be discovered when you explore the White Peak. If you don't have a map with you, there is a range of postcard-sized walk guides available when you arrive. These are available to buy at Ilam Park from the Stableyard Grab and Go.
A popular activity for families visiting Ilam Park is playing Pooh sticks on the huge stone bridge on the River Manifold. There's plenty of space nearby to sit down with a picnic and spot birds on the river while you have your lunch.
Ilam, Dovedale and the White Peak has lots of opportunities for a great family day in the outdoors.
Take a break at Ilam Park and enjoy lunch or a cream tea with stunning views of Thorpe Cloud and the Italian Gardens.
Over 360 million years ago, Ilam Park lay under a shallow sea as coral reef. Read about the moments that have shaped the landscape.
Find out about the extensive countryside and woodland places to explore in the Peak District and Derbyshire, from rugged peaks to wide expanses of moorland.