Jan 012005

A previous visit to Dovedale some 2 years earlier saw extemely wet conditions and flooding in Dovedale itself. This year, I had been hoping for better conditions – maybe even a cold bright winter’s day with a hard frost. Alas, I was to be disappointed as the day was very grey and the ground quite waterlooged from previous rain; at least there was no flooding, though! Nevertheless, the walk through Dovedale is worth it regardless of the conditions.

Distance: 17.3 km (approx 10¾ miles)
Time: approx 5 hrs
Height gained: 472 m
Map: Explorer OL24 – The White Peaks
Parking: Parwich (SK 190543)
Refreshments: Seasonal small take-way at Milldale (SK 148548)
“Peverill of the Peak” Hotel (SK 157506)
“Sycamore Inn”, Parwich (SK187547)

View the route in OS Openspace: Parwich, Dovedale & Tissington

The starting point for this walk was for me partly dictated by the fact that I had rented a cottage in Parwich but in reality can be started from anywhere on the route. I would recommend the site of the old station at Alsop on the A515 on the Tissington Trail at SK 155549)

Leave the village following the country lane to Alsop. Just after the end of the speed restriction signs, take a path on the L and climb diagonally R across and up the hill. Pass through a squeeze stile (the first of what seems like a hundred or so!) and continue on to cross another stile to join a walled path coming in from R. Continue on heading W and keeping to the ridge. Path to the L of Parwich Lees through what seems like parkland and drop down to cross a lane. Climb another stile into the field and head SW to a stile by a gate still going downhill. After climbing the stile, head still SW and climb fairly steeply uphill, heading for the high point. Pass to the L of a small copse.

The Tissington Trail should now be visible; head towards a bridge under it and continue immediately into a field straight ahead (do not take the more welcoming farm track on the R) and head up to the main A515. Climb a stile and watch carefully to cross the road to turn R and walk along the grass verge. Take the next minor road on L (signed “Alstonefield” and “Milldale”). The short stretch of road walking is almost a welcome relief after the mud of the fields. Just after the 13% road gradient sign, watch for a path on the L. Take this and follow initially generally NW, then SW. Soon there are good views on the R towards the N end of Milldale and the River Dove, then the weirs of the river before soon seeing the lovely little Viator’s Bridge. The path drops very steeply down to the river. With luck, the little cafe in Milldale will be open and offer a range of snacks and drinks.

I had planned to walk on the R bank of the river for a change but having experienced the conditions underfoot earlier, I decided to follow the very popular well-maintained path on the left bank again. So, recrossing the bridge, follow the path S with the river a joyous companion for the next 2 or so miles. This path is extremely popular even in the depths of winter so put on a brave face to the masses and give them a cheery greeting as you pass (or do as some people do and refuse to make eye contact!)

There are many interesting geologic rock formations along this part of the walk. However, I will not be describing any of them and if you want to know more, type “Dovedale” into a search engine and I’m sure you will soon be deluged with information! Apart from a stiff up-and-over a rocky crop all this is very easy walking so enjoy it while it lasts. All too soon, we emerge from the narrow confines and are confronted with the huge Thorpe Cloud rock. This is the first of the string of hills that go now all the way up and beyond the border with Soctland. If you’re still feeling energetic, then its a good climb to the top (but remember that there’s still 2hrs of the walk to go yet!) This is a good place to stop for a breather and watch the world and his wife either huffing and puffing up Thorpe Cloud or else trying to cross the greasy stepping stones across the river to the Staffordshire bank. Alas, no-one fell in whilst I was watching!

Leave the river and the hordes and continue to head generally S climbing up Lindale. Keep to the L at the foot of Hamston Hill and after the brow of the hill, The “Peverill of the Peak” hotel will we seen. Still going L and heading E and then NE to follow the wall and pick up Limestone Way which will be our route back to Parwich. The going under foot is gain very difficult in places. At a turn L to head H before very shortly going R across stiles heading NE again. Cross a minor road and continue on into field all the time heading generally NE. Emerge on to a road and turn R to climb up to the main A515. Continue straight across through an impressive gateway (alas one of the gate pillars has collapsed) now following the minor road into Tissington down a tree-lined avenue.

The village is well worth exploring and it looks as they little has changed over hundreds of years (well, if you ignore the tourists, the TV aerials, the cars…). Our route is up and through the churchyard. Do not take the obvious path to the other side of the churchyard but instead go across the grass and pass through a gate out in to the field. Cross diagonally to the L across the field and then head N to emerge on to a minor road. Cross the road and continue on through the next field. Turn R on to a farm track Follow this now heading generally NE and pass over the Tissington Trail. The track swings L as it drops down towards the farm and as it straightens out again there is a sign on the R to “Parwich 1½ miles”. Drop down to cross the brook and then one last climb of the day back up on to the ridge before dropping down to the village. The car or the cottage is then just a few steps away!

A wonderful day out and it’s reminded me of why I like coming to Derbyshire whenever I can.