Length: 20.0 km (12.4 mi)
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 hours
Toughness: 7 out of 10
Length: 13.8 km (8.6 mi)
Net Walking Time: ca. 3 ¾ hours
Toughness: 2 out of 10
But add an out-and-back up Dovedale towards Milldale hamlet with its tea option
of a length of your choosing (up to 4.2 km/2.6 mi each way and still less effort than the main walk)
Length: 26.5 km (16.4 mi)
Net Walking Time: ca. 7 hours
Toughness: 9 out of 10
A walk from Ashbourne, a pretty market town near the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border where the Midlands’ plains meet highland Britain, through the White Peak area and the Peak’s most scenic and famous dale.
You follow a dismantled railway line out of town and then a whaleback-shaped ridge north through a lovely pastoral landscape to Thorpe, where the isolated reef limestone hills of Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill guard the southerly end of Dovedale. The route initially skirts to the west of the dale around Bunster Hill to avoid the early day crowds in the dale and later climbs up the hill to stay high above the dale on an airy route before dropping down into it through woods. The core part of Dovedale, with its numerous impressive limestone ravines and cliffs, towering crags and pinnacles, arches and caves, is then walked downstream – flanked by some of the best calcareous ash woods in England – to the most iconic part of Dovedale: the picturesque Stepping Stones. A final ascent through the scenic Lin Dale with fantastic back views is followed by a long stretch back to Ashbourne along the dismantled railway line.
Note: stretches of the path above Dovedale – above a very steep hanging wood – are a little exposed.
A short walk gets you straight to the Stepping Stones and you can add an easy out-and-back up Dovedale.
A long walk also takes in Hall Dale en route to lunch and returns through the full length of Dovedale.
A Short Walk to the base of Thorpe Cloud and then along the River Dove to the Stepping Stones and the bottom of Dovedale proper is 13.8 km/8.6 mi long with 213m ascent (rated 2/10). This can/should be combined with an (flat bar one small ascent) out-and-back up Dovedale towards Milldale hamlet with its tea option of a length of your choosing (up to 4.2 km/2.6 mi each way).
An alternative route in the morning along an elevated path across the nose of the ridge of Bunster Hill (rather than around the base of it) saves a bit of distance, but is only recommended in dry conditions.
An out-and-back Extension to the main walk from the footbridge over the River Dove north along Dovedale (flat) towards Milldale hamlet with its tea option adds anything up to 1.9 km/1.2 mi each way.
An Extension of the main walk up Hall Dale, through Hopedale and via Alstonefield village and Milldale hamlet creates a 26.5 km/16.4 mi walk with 772m ascent/descent, rated 9/10.
A (map-led) ascent of Thorpe Cloud in the afternoon adds 250m and 125m ascent/descent.
Bus line 442 from Fenny Bentley (15.31, 16.41 & 18.41, outside the Coach & Horses pub) to Ashbourne, 1.2 km off-route, cuts 3.5 km/2.2 mi.
, walk directions
, height profile
and gpx/kml files
Either take the 08.31 Sheffield train from St. Pancras to Derby, arrives 10.09. Then leave the station quickly and walk to the bus station 1.1 km away (for directions see page 5 of the pdf or download the gpx). [With a bit of luck there will be a delayed bus Line 1 waiting to go to the bus station (for a £1 fare)]
From Stand 24 at Derby Bus Station (the furthest stand as you enter it) take bus SW1 (direction Uttoxeter) to Ashbourne Bus Station, departs 10.20, arrives 10.57. Should the bus be gone, the City Centre and the Market Halls with some cafés are just around the corner/across the road…
Or take the 08.02 Sheffield train from St. Pancras to Derby, arrives 09.28. From Stand S1 in the train station forecourt in Derby take bus 114 to Ashbourne Bus Station, departs 09.53, arrives 10.47.
Relevant return buses, all terminating at Derby Bus Station, are… Line 114: 18.30 (arrives 19.08) and Line SW1: 16.25 (arrives 17.05), 17.25 (arrives 18.05), 18.30 (arrives 19.00), 20.15 (arrives 20.45). Note: return tickets bought on the 114 are not valid on the SW1 and vice versa… Relevant return trains
are therefore: 17.30
(the latter with a tight connection from the bus). After that there is only the 21.10 via Birmingham to Euston (or a night in Derby).