Dovedale. Ilam Rock and Bunster Hill.
Winter walking is great. If you manage to catch a day with great weather you feel you've achieved something before you even step out of the door.
We headed to Dovedale to explore one of the most visited sites in Derbyshire's Peak District. The ancient stepping stones provide a short easy riverside stroll for anyone to do. An even though it is nice to see them and be under the apron of Thorpe Cloud its a little too commercial for me. We kept walking past the stepping stones and quickly left the screaming children and crowds behind and made our way through the high sided pass that the River Dove has carved over millions of years. The high hillsides and fast flowing river are spectacular to see and you quickly reach the boardwalk which the National Trust has built around the caves and rock formations. After this you reach a fork and we chose to the the little footbridge over the river and up the steps to Ilam Rock.
These are not for the faint hearted. The hillside pass climbs very quickly and after a few hundred meters your calves are screaming for a rest. My advice is just to power through. The mud and tree roots can be quick slippy so make sure you're careful. When you think you're at the top, you're not! It keeps climbing well above the river and rocks to where the land changes.
Finally your at the top and suddenly you're in pastures and farmland. The view is unfortunatly obscured but the woodland at this point but not to fear as you'll be treated later on.
The path now takes you along the top of the ridge through farmland and past farm buildings. Once you're through the woods the fields can be wet and boggy so pray you've got your good boots on! From here you can get great views through Dovedale and on to Thorpe Cloud. A great place for a breather and a snack.
Now follow the path up to the farm and then off to the left. Here you'll me met with Bunster Hill which is a three peaked hill. The path takes you around the base of the peak but if possible try and power up the hill. The view is amazing. We got there just as the sun was setting. Perfect.
Keep following the path around the base and through another field. The you'll be back in the car park.