Milldale Short Walk (Dovedale + Ilam Rock) | 3-Mile Route

Milldale walk through Dovedale

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A beautiful short walk through Dovedale from Milldale in the Derbyshire Dales of the Peak District with plenty of highlights along the way.

This lovely 3-mile route begins from the picturesque village of Milldale and takes you along the River Dove. You can relax and enjoy walking alongside the meandering river as it twists and turns through Dovedale. The path that runs next to it so you don’t need to worry about going the wrong way. 

There’s an abundance of wildlife and nature, from wildflowers, birds and fungi in the woodlands, as well as caves and iconic limestone rock formations and cliffs too.

As you reach Ilam Rock you loop back round then head uphill to the quieter Derbyshire Dale of Hall Dale, walking towards the village of Stanshope. Then turning back to complete the short walk along a track and fields down into Milldale. 

Here you will find details on how to get to the start of the walk at Milldale, route information, map, GPX file, plus a detailed step by step guide of the walk.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve done this walk and what you think!

Dovedale walk from Milldale

Limestone cliffs on Dovedale walk
Limestone cliffs along Dovedale

Walk information

Walk type: Short circular walk

Distance: 3.3 miles/5.3 km

Walk time: 1.5-2.5 hours

Total ascent: 247 m/810 ft

Highest point: 284 m/932 ft

Walk highlights: Milldale village, Dovedale, Dove Holes (cave), Ilam Rock + Hall Dale

Trig points – 0

Stiles – Yes

gpx file

Milldale walk map

Peak District walk map from Milldale
Milldale short walk map
Click for online map

Walk start point

Start grid reference: SK 13623 54767

Car parking address: Milldale car park, Milldale, near Alstonefield, NG6 2GB (Please note not exact postcode, I recommend using the Google location pin)

This is a free public car park, it’s a medium size but can fill up quickly at weekends.

Public transport

There are no suitable public transport options to Milldale, Derbyshire.

Facilities on the walk

There are public toilets available at the start of the walk at Milldale.

For takeaway refreshments, you can stop off at Polly’s Cottage for some treats before or after your walk (open Easter to October)

Polly's Cottage
Polly’s Cottage Takeaway

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

Milldale can be a popular location at busy times so it’s worth arriving early to guarantee a parking space. The village also has a small information centre which is worth popping in and a small shelter as part of the toilet facilities which is handy on a rainy day.

The route is fairly easy to navigate for the first part but it’s worth taking a map and compass to make sure you’re going the right way! 

Stone stile and green bushes
One of the stiles on the second part of the walk

The terrain is good, with a few rocky sections up through Hall Dale, then back down to Milldale so I’d recommend good footwear for the route and you’ll also come across a few stones stiles on the later part of the walk.

I did not encounter any cows on this walk, although they were in the adjacent fields so if you’re walking with a dog I’d recommend taking a lead in case they have been moved into the fields on the route.

Check the weather for your walk location and hills

This is mostly a low-level walk but it can be cooler up higher and also the path back down to Milldale can be slippy during wet weather.

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

For online maps, you can get via OS Online App or Viewranger App. Check prices here for the one month or yearly option with OS Online App.


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Photos of Milldale walk in Peak District

Milldale walk route to Dovedale

Stage 1 – Milldale to Dovedale (Dove Holes)

Distance: 0.9 miles/1.5 km

Grid reference SK 13623 54767

From the car park, turn left and walk a short distance up the road to the village of Milldale. As you reach the village, you’ll see the River Dove, the toilet building and information centre on your right.

Milldale toilet facilties
Milldale toilet facilities + information building

Go over the stone bridge and through the gate and you’ll see a public footpath sign for Dovedale car park (3-miles) and also national trust sign for the start of Dovedale. From here continue along the footpath, going through two sets of gates next to the River Dove.

Dovedale then begins to open out and you’ll see dramatic limestone cliffs as you walk along the route and you’ll go through another two sets of gates. Through the trees, you’ll come across some magnificent caves known as the Dove Holes, you can go exploring but be careful as limestone rocks are slippy when wet.

Dove Holes along Dovedale walk
Walking towards the Dove Holes caves

Stage 2 – Dove Holes to end of Hall Dale

Distance: 1.6 mile/2.5 km

Grid reference SK 14281 53660

Once you’ve enjoyed exploring the Dove Holes caves continue following the path as it ascends slightly but remains alongside the river and through another gate.

Ilam Rock in the Peak District
Ilam Rock at Dovedale

Next you’ll see another iconic rock formation, called Ilam Rock that juts out on the other side of the river. You’ll reach a small wooden bridge, signposted Stanshope (1.25 miles), turn right here and go across the bridge. 

Once across the bridge turn right again now following a more rugged path on the opposite side of the river. After about 200 metres you’ll see another signpost. Keep walking along the river following the signpost for Stanshope.

Signpost for Stanshope
Signpost for Stanshope

The path takes you through a gap in a drystone wall. Here is where you turn left following the signpost to Stanshope and towards Hall Dale. It’s a narrow footpath gradually taking you uphill to the dale, over a wooden stile then the terrain flattens out into Hall Dale.

Keep on the footpath next to the drystone wall on your left, through a wooden gate and continue all the way to the end of the dale where you go through a small gap in the wall with a gate (you’ll see a national trust signpost for Hall Dale here).

Gate through Hall Dale
Walking through Hall Dale

Stage 3 – Hall Dale to Mildale

Distance: 1 mile/1.6 km

Grid reference SK 13159 53955

Continue on the path and over a step of stone steps over a wall, then through a second gap in the wall with a fingerpost sign with a small yellow arrow on.

Drystone wall with signpost
Another small stone gap to squeeze through!

Keep to the left of the field next to the wall where you’ll reach another gate and stone steps to go through. Then walk towards the boundary wall and through a gate on a track.

Turn right down the track, until it bears off to the right. At this point, you want to walk through the gate into the field, signposted Milldale and also a national trust signpost for Grove Farm.

Gate and drystone wall
Heading through the gate down to Milldale

Walk through the field next to the wall, over a small wooden stile and continue down the field, through a stone gap in the wall, then across the field to another small gate.

Go through the gate and the path now turns into a rocky narrow track, winding downhill, steep in some parts. Go through a wooden gate and continue down until you reach the road.

Turn left at the road and you’ll reach the Milldale car park.

Ask me any questions about the walk in the comments section below.

Other options for this walk

Alternative options for this walk coming soon. 

More walks in the Peak District

Love the walks in the Derbyshire Dales? You might like these Peak District circular walks.

Or check out all our Peak District walking routes here

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Dovedale walk photos

Dovedale walk in Peak District

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