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River Dove, Dovedale & the Dove valley

This page will cover walking along the river Dove taking in Dovedale, Milldale, Wolfscote Dale, Beresford Dale and onto Hartington. Thankfully, most of the land in this area is owned by the National Trust, Britain's largest conservation charity, who protect and manage it for the benefit of the Nation. As the walk closely follows the bank of the River Dove, dog owners are asked especially to keep their animals under close supervision.

Car parking is available at Dovedale, (pay on entry) Milldale, (free) and limited free road side parking at Beresford Dale. There is of course plenty of parking available in Hartington should you wish to commence your walk from there. I will describe the area from Dovedale up to Hartington.

Refreshments are available at Dovedale car park, Milldale at Polly's Pantry and at Hartington, where we recommend the Beresford Tea Rooms.

The path is a FOOTPATH only and NO cycling is allowed. If you wish to cycle please go to the Manifold Valley, High Peak and Tissington trails on the local area button at the top of the page.

To walk the length from Dovedale to Hartington you will cover a distance of 8 miles. Without doubt, this is a spectacular walk, and one which will stay in your memory for the rest of your life. Unlike the quieter and equally spectacular Manifold Valley, Dovedale can get very busy; Sunday afternoons being a classic example.
It is also not ideally suited for physically impaired walkers, and wheelchair users. However, the Manifold way is ideal for wheel chair access.

The walk down the valley starts from the car park at Dovedale, which is dominated by two hills. The green, grey capped rocky cone of Thorpe Cloud to the south - east of the river, and Bunster, with its steep inner face over looking the valley. A short walk down the small road and you arrive at the famous stepping stones, cross over the River Dove and proceed down Dovedale Gorge. The National Trust restricts access to the eastern side of the Dove. The most curious feature of Dovedale are its rock formations, many of which used to be active coral reefs. More recently, flowing water aided by the rain and wind, has eaten away the softer limestone. In some places caverns and arches have been formed. In others, where the harder rock has offered greater resistance to erosion, huge crags or pinnacles have been left projecting from the sides of the valley. Many of them have been given names -: Dovedale Castle, Twelve Apostles, Tissington Spires, Reynard's Cave, Ilam Rock etc.

The river flows quick and clear, between tree shaded banks over a succession of small weirs. Look out for Brown Trout and Grayling in the shallows. Birds of note are  -: dipper, moorhen, mallard, coot, little grebe, wagtails, kingfisher, goosander. Keep a keen eye out for hares on the rugged hillsides. The first hamlet you reach will be Milldale, here you cross over Viator bridge into the hamlet. Refreshments from Polly's Pantry are most welcome. From Milldale you will need to follow the road for about ½mile on the opposite side of the river to Load Mill, here the road and river part company again and you can rejoin the river track. Once again on the eastern side you proceed to Wolfscote Dale and onwards to Beresford Dale, here the valley opens out a little more, and trees are sparse. Many slopes are dominated by loose scree, the valley opens even wider on the approach to Beresford Dale, where you cross over a small bridge and make the journey to Hartington, and the end of the walk. Welcome refreshments await! Maybe a visit to the famous cheese shop or a gentle amble around the various shops, a pot of tea and a piece of home made cake at the Beresford tea rooms, or possibly stretching to a pint or two in the Devonshire, or a visit to their new tea rooms. The choice is yours to enjoy.

To return to Dovedale, retrace your steps back down the valley. It is just as beautiful on the return journey!

Along the length of the walk, numerous paths lead off to link up to other walks.

Visit the Devonshire Arms public house in Hartington  www.devonshirearms.co.uk

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