River Dove Short Walk From Alstonefield (via Milldale) | 4-Mile Route

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A short but beautiful walk from Alstonefield in Staffordshire. This 4-mile short loop heads across fields, then down to the River Dove where you can enjoy a nature-filled walk next to the river.

You’ll enjoy all the wildlife with plenty of birds along the route, from herons, ducks and dippers. As well as some dramatic limestone cliffs and hidden caves as the path nears the village of Milldale. From here, it’s back up Alstonefield to complete your walk.

Here you will find details on how to get to the start of the walk at Alstonefield, 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 if you liked it?

River Dove walk from Alstonefield

Bridge and trees
Footbridge across the River Dove

Walk information

Walk type: Short circular walk

Distance: 4.2 miles/6.7 km

Walk time: 1.5-2.5 hours

Total ascent: 238 m/780 ft

Highest point: 299 m/656 ft

Walk highlights: River Dove, limestone cliffs, Milldale village + bridge, Alstonefield 12th century church

gpx file

Alstonefield walk map

Walk map from Alstonefield
Alstonefield walk map
Click for online map

Walk start point

Start grid reference: SK 13066 55641

Car parking address: Alstonefield car park, Lode Lane, Alstonefield, Ashbourne, DE6 2FY (Google pin)

This is a small car park with toilets. However, there is a second car park which you will have probably noticed signs on the way in, called the Playing Fields car park (Google pin). These are both free car parks but the playing fields one has a place you can make a donation for the upkeep.

Car park
Small car park with toilets
Playing field car park

Public transport

There are no public transport options to get to the start of this Alstonefield walk.

Facilities on the walk

There are public toilets available at the car park at the start of the walk. If you’ve parked at the second larger car park there aren’t any but the toilets are on route.

At Milldale, there are more public toilets and there’s a small takeaway tearoom open (Easter to October), called Polly’s Cottage. In Alstonefield there’s a pub called the George but at the moment it’s food pre-bookings only so no after walk drink.

Polly's Cottage
Polly’s Cottage Takeaway in Milldale

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

This is a relatively easy walk, with the exception of a steep downhill to the River Dove at the start of the walk, there are rough wooden logs as steps but in wet weather, it can be slippy so watch your footing. 

The uphill from Milldale to Alstonefield can also be steep and it’s a grassy climb so not technical, but again can be slippy when wet! There is also a small section of the path that’s overgrown (late summer) and if you’re wearing shorts (like me) then you might get a few stings!

Check the weather for your walk location and hills

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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Alstonefield short walk route

Stage 1 – Alstonefield to River Dove

Distance: 1.3 miles/2 km

Grid reference SK 13066 55642

From the Alstonefield car park (with the toilets), turn left up the road, cross over and turn right at the fingerpost sign over the drystone wall. Once over, then go over a set of stone steps into the next field and walk diagonally to the top corner near the farm.

Signpost at the start of the walk

Go through the metal gate which leads you out onto a wider track. Follow the track until it bends left, at this point you want to head across the field to a broken gate about halfway down the boundary wall. Go through and follow the yellow arrow pointing left towards the boundary wall at the end of the field.

Gate and signpost
Gate leading to the track down to the farm

You’ll reach another wooden gate that brings you out onto a track, follow this down, past a farm building, then through another two gates close together. At the second gate, follow the public footpath signpost pointing left across the field to the next boundary wall and another small gate and signpost. Go through the gate, bearing slightly right to the wall and another gate, which has a public footpath signpost pointing towards the trees.

Limestone rocks and grassy bank
Start of the descent to the River Dove

You’ll reach another gate with stone steps and a national trust sign for Gipsy Bank. Follow the footpath as it begins to descend gradually and then steeper down to a bridge (or stepping stones) across the River Dove.

Note – the stepping stones can be slippy when wet and there are also some pointy stones that aren’t easy to balance on. Use the bridge if in doubt!

Stepping stones over the River Dove
Stepping stones over the River Dove

Stage 2 – River Dove to Milldale

Distance: 2.1 mile/3.4 km

Grid reference SK 14358 56854

Note – There’s a small cave above where the bridge reaches the path, it’s a scramble up and can be slippy but fun if you want to explore!

Once across the bridge or stepping stones turn right and follow the footpath alongside the River Dove. The path winds along following the path of the river so although it’s not straight you can’t go wrong if you stay next to it.

Trees, river and footpath - River Dove
Following the footpath next to the River Dove

Go through a gate on the path, next to the limestone cliffs along the route. Then you’ll see a stone building not long after with a few signposts. Keep following the river path, following the public footpath sign to Milldale (1.5 miles).

Wooden gate on path
Path next to the River Dove

Next, it’s through a small stone gap in the wall and another where the path then narrows through some woodlands, keep on the path, through two more stone gaps and past some houses on your left. Walk until the bridge and go up the stone steps that bring you out on the road.

Cross the bridge and over the road, taking the first road on your left (signposted to Milldale). Continue walking on the pavement all the way until you reach the village of Milldale.

River Dove reaching Milldale village
River Dove reaching Milldale village

Stage 3 – Milldale to Alstonefield

Distance: 1.4 miles/2.3 km

Grid reference SK 13910 54714

At Milldale village, maybe stop to pop in the information centre, toilets or Polly’s Cottage. 

Red phone box next to path
Red phone box next to path

From where you entered the village, turn right up the road, then right again (past Polly’s Cottage) and at the red phone box take the hidden public footpath on the left up the steps, between the wall and bushes.

Walk up the path as it gradually inclines then out through the wooden gate and turn left, now beginning to head further uphill. Go through another wooden gate and keep heading uphill.

Drystone wall with gap in corner
Footpath in between the drystone wall

At the top in the corner of the wall there’s a small stone gap, go through and bear left across the field to another wooden gate. Then walk across the field heading towards the road and another small gate and wooden signpost.

At the road turn left, walk up past Alstonefield 12th century church and continue up the road, past The George pub and back to the car park.

Village church
Alstonefield 12th century church

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about this walk.

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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