The Dovedale walk is a popular one but this route includes a mix of both the busier sections of Dovedale but also takes you away from the trail to see it from a different point of view.
Starting a short distance from the main Dovedale car park you see the wonderful iconic hill-shaped Thorpe Cloud as you walk down towards Lin Dale and the famous Dovedale stepping stones, then following the River Dove through the dale to Ilam Rock.
From here, you then go off the beaten track and hike above Dovedale for a different perspective of the valley, making your way along to Bunster Hill before returning to see Thorpe Cloud. You complete the walk with a tough hike up to the top of Thorpe Cloud and views of the valley before heading back down.
Here you will find details on how to get to the start of the circular walk, map, GPX, parking options, route information, facilities, plus a detailed step by step guide of the walk.
Have you climbed Thorpe Cloud, let me know in the comments?
Dovedale, Bunster Hill + Thorpe Cloud from Thorpe
Dovedale, Bunster Hill + Thorpe Cloud walk mapClick for online map
Walk start point
Start grid reference: SK 16377 50480
Car parking address: Narlows car park, Spend Lane, Thorpe, Ashbourne, DE6 2AT
This is a medium-sized free car park, next to The Old Dog pub. There’s also a second free one further down the road – (Thorpe car park, off Narlows Lane, Tissington Trail, Ashbourne, DE6 2AT)
Nearest train station: Stoke-on-Trent train station (22 mile/35 km)
There are no bus routes to the start of this walk, sorry :(.
Facilities on the walk
There are no public toilets available at the start of the walk at Thorpe; however, there are toilets, a short distance from the base of Thorpe Cloud (grid reference SK 14665 50969). This is also where there is a second busier car park (paid) along with a small shop.
Alternatively, if you pop into the pub The Old Dog after your walk then you could use the toilets there (although it’s currently closed and not re-opening until March 2021 so you’ll have to enjoy that post-walk drink somewhere else for a while).
Water on your walk – I recommend a filter water bottle for your Peak District walks, it saves you carrying extra weight and you can fill up safely and drink water from the streams on your walk.
Other useful information
Dovedale is an extremely popular place to visit, you’ll notice in my pictures not many people. I did the walk on a Monday evening and saw only 2 people the entire walk – I’d recommend an evening or mid-week walk if that’s an option for you.
During weekends, arrive earlier to guarantee and parking space. If you arrive later and it’s busy please consider changing your plans and visiting another time, there are been issues at the weekend with people blocking residents. I can recommend this walk from Hartington which isn’t too far away.
The section up from Ilam Rock is particularly steep, you’ll need proper hiking shoes/boots to safely hike up to the stop as the terrain is loose in places (see photo above).
Check the weather for your walk location and hills
- BBC Weather for Thorpe Derbyshire
- Met Office weather for the Peak District
- Met Office weather for Dovedale
Ordnance Survey Walk Map
The map required for this walk is OL24 – Peak District (White Peak Area). Check prices here with Ordnance Survey or Amazon. If you’re hiking in all weathers the Active OS maps are pretty good to have.
And don’t forget your compass, I recommend the Silva Expedition compass
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Dovedale, Bunster Hill + Thorpe Cloud walk route
Stage 1 – Thorpe to Dovedale stepping stones
Distance: 1.2 miles/1.9 km
Grid reference SK 16375 50481
Turn right out of the car park, towards the pub, cross the road and continue heading up the road, going past the pub on your left. Walk down the road, from here you’ll see the first glimpse of Thorpe Cloud at 287 metres in the distance.
As the bottom of the road, where it bends to the left, you’ll join the footpath on the opposite side of the road. There’s a small wall with stone stile signposted with green arrow markers heading across the grass.
Walk across the field through a second gate and then on to a stone step stile with a National Trust signpost for Thorpe Pastures and Dovedale pointing left. Begin walking parallel to the wall, then after a few hundred metres bear right and head down towards Lin Dale, with Thorpe Cloud on your left.
Continue down Lin Dale, with the boundary wall on your left until you reach a gate which will bring you out at Dovedale stepping stones.
Stage 2 – Dovedale stepping stones to Ilam Rock
Distance: 1.4 mile/2.3 km
Grid reference SK 15153 51390
As you reach the River Dove, you’ll turn left through the stone stile, signposted Milldale but factor in time to go across the Dovedale stepping stones, it’s a must-do Peak District activity!
Once through the gate, walk alongside the River Dove and follow the footpath, after about 1 km the route takes you up some steps to a point known as Lover’s Leap then down the other side, still keeping parallel with the river. Through another gate and the past the beautiful limestone cliffs that surround Dovedale.
You then walk along a boarded section right next to the river and through another gate. Keep walking until you see Ilam Rock on your right and a footbridge with a signpost pointing towards Stanshope.
Stage 3 – Illam to Bunster Hill
Distance: 1.2 miles/1.9 km
Grid reference SK 14190 53144
Cross the footbridge and turn left along the path next to Ilam Rock, you’ll then find a steep footpath heading up past the rock. This terrain is loose on the first section so take a steady climb, the path evens out after about 20 metres, but it’s still a steep hike to the top through the woods.
Keep walking and you’ll go through a wooden gate, to an open space with views across to Thorpe Cloud, walk across to the wooden post with faded ‘public footpath’ wording and walk along the narrow footpath that takes you in and out the woods.
After about 800 metres, there’s a small house above the footpath, walk past the house then take the path heading up (I missed this turning the first time as the path continues round for a few hundred metres but if you see the ‘private land’ sign you just need to double back and head up).
Then go through a wooden gate and turn left onto a track, where the track goes through a stone wall, turn left before this, walking down past the trees and you’ll come out at a field and drystone wall. Walk next to the wall until you reach a gate with a sign for Bunster Hill.
Stage 4 – Bunster Hill via Thorpe Cloud to Thorpe
Distance: 2.6 miles/4.2 km
Grid reference SK 13957 51883
Turn right and head down Bunster Hill next to the drystone wall until you reach a gate and footpath heading left. This path appears and disappears in places but continue heading south towards where the path goes through a small dip between the hills. At the corner, you’ll then be able to see Thorpe Cloud from a different angle.
From here take the path down to the wall and follow it along the base of Bunster Hill, through a couple of gates and then out onto the road with a sign for Dovedale. Turn left then walk across the footbridge to the base of Thorpe Cloud. From here you walk down the footpath following the blue waymarkers, with the summit on your left.
Walk around the base of the hill then it will gradually take you up to the summit, it’s a steep climb and the terrain is loose and slippy in places. Enjoy the summit views then it’s back down the following the same route initially but then go through the gate at the south-east point.
Head across the field and you’ll join the route you started on. Go over the stone stile, through the grassy path to the road. Turn left, walk up the road and you’re back at the car park.
Ask me any questions about this Dovedale walk in the comments.
More walks in the Peak District
Want to try a quieter stepping stones walk? You might like Chee Dale stepping stones or there are these beautiful Derbyshire Dales walks you can do too.
Or check out all our Peak District walking routes here
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