Dovedale and Thorpe Cloud Walk
This Dovedale and Thorpe Cloud walk takes you through the beautiful Derbyshire countryside, exploring caves, the Dovedale Stepping Stones and wandering through beautiful Dovedale. At 7 miles this is one of the best walks in Dovedale and the kids will love it!
As part of the Peak District Ethels Challenge we regularly visit places we never would have gone to, and this is definitely the case with Thorpe Cloud. It’s not very local to us and my favourite types of walk are moorland walks – the bleaker the better! We planned a walk in Dovedale with the hopes of ticking off two more Ethels – Thorpe Cloud and Tissington Hill.
Thorpe Cloud is 287m above sea level and is an isolated limestone knoll near the villages of Thorpe and Ilam. Tissington Hill is a steep limestone hill some 369m above sea level 2 miles away from the village of Tissington. The summit of Tissington Hill is on private land unfortunately so we had to adopt the near enough is good enough approach for this. Nearby is the spectacular Reynards Cave, a natural stone arch and various caves – one of which was the site of a hoard of Iron Age and early Roman coins.
Our walk started from the National Trust Car Park in Dovedale. Heading east along the footpaths, we crossed the River Dove and then followed the blue markers round the side of Thorpe Cloud to climb to the summit. The sides are steep but the path is very obvious (not least because it’s a very popular place to visit and there is a steady stream of people climbing up!). The top part of Thorpe Cloud is very rocky, and you may have to scramble up a couple of metres to get to the actual summit ridge.
We followed the ridge along the top of Thorpe Cloud then headed down the footpath to the south-east. This took us back to where we started too climb up to the top of Thorpe Cloud. With Thorpe Cloud behind us, we climbed over the stile and into the fields, following a footpath around the edge of the rifle range.
The footpath put us onto Gag Lane which we followed for a short while, before heading through the fields where there is a strange abandoned building. We didn’t investigate as it’s not Open Access Land.
Walks in Dovedale
Following the footpaths, we made our way to the footpath passing close to the summit of Tissington Hill. As this is on private land, and the field had just been ploughed and crops sewn, we walked around the edge of the field to see if we could get a view of the trig point. Unfortunately it’s in the woods on the other side of another field, so we couldn’t even see it! We headed back and passed through the farmyard, then headed down into Dovedale. From this path you could just make out the trig point on the horizon – just!
Reynards Arch and Caves in Dovedale
Heading down towards the River Dove, we passed by some amazing cave structures. These are huge! Dovedale is full of hidden caves. We first explored the Dove Holes, two ancient caves in the hillside. Following the river, we headed south-east and found the amazing Reynards Cave in Dovedale. This natural limestone arch leads to further caves but is a tricky scramble to access. You have to climb using your hands at some points, so it’s not for those with mobility issues unfortunately. The limestone can also become very slippery in wet conditions.
According to Wikipedia “The limestone rock that forms the geology of Dovedale is the fossilised remains of sea creatures that lived in a shallow sea over the area during the Carboniferous period, about 350 million years ago. During the two ice ages, the limestone rock (known as reef limestone) was cut into craggy shapes by glacial meltwater, and dry caves such as Dove Holes and Reynard’s Kitchen Cave were eventually formed.” Amazing to think of this being under a shallow sea!
After we’d explored Reynards Arch, we followed the riverside path to the famous stepping stones at Dovedale. Because we had been silly, and visited on Easter Bank Holiday Monday, the place was packed and there were really long queues for the stepping stones.
We didn’t bother with the stepping stones and instead followed the river back to the car park, before heading off to the nearby Coach & Horses pub in Fenny Bentley. We had a delicious pub meal, topped off with a delicious glass of wine.
Thorpe Cloud Walk:
Parking: Dovedale National Trust Car Park, Dovedale, Ilam, Ashbourne DE6 2AY
Facilities: Pay to use toilets in the National Trust Car Park (20p), snack van
Walk Time: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: ▲▲ (Thorpe Cloud is very steep and rocky at the top)
Distance: 7.2 miles (11.6 km) in total
Trig Points Bagged: Tissington Hill is on private land but the walk takes you nearby.
Peak District Peaks Bagged: Thorpe Cloud
Peak District Ethels Bagged: Thorpe Cloud, Tissington Hill
Thorpe Cloud Walking Route Map: