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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Saturday Walk - Dovedale (Ashbourne Circular): A long day but…the Peak District's most famous dale

Length: 20.0 km (12.4 mi)
Ascent/Descent: 509m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 hours
Toughness: 7 out of 10
            or
Length: 13.8 km (8.6 mi)
Ascent/Descent: 213m
Net Walking Time: ca. 3 ¾ hours
Toughness: 2 out of 10
But add an out-and-back up Dovedale towards Milldale hamlet with its tea option
of a length of your choosing (up to 4.2 km/2.6 mi each way and still less effort than the main walk)
            or
Length: 26.5 km (16.4 mi)
Ascent/Descent: 772m
Net Walking Time: ca. 7 hours
Toughness: 9 out of 10

A walk from Ashbourne, a pretty market town near the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border where the Midlands’ plains meet highland Britain, through the White Peak area and the Peak’s most scenic and famous dale.

You follow a dismantled railway line out of town and then a whaleback-shaped ridge north through a lovely pastoral landscape to Thorpe, where the isolated reef limestone hills of Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill guard the southerly end of Dovedale. The route initially skirts to the west of the dale around Bunster Hill to avoid the early day crowds in the dale and later climbs up the hill to stay high above the dale on an airy route before dropping down into it through woods. The core part of Dovedale, with its numerous impressive limestone ravines and cliffs, towering crags and pinnacles, arches and caves, is then walked downstream – flanked by some of the best calcareous ash woods in England – to the most iconic part of Dovedale: the picturesque Stepping Stones. A final ascent through the scenic Lin Dale with fantastic back views is followed by a long stretch back to Ashbourne along the dismantled railway line.
Note: stretches of the path above Dovedale – above a very steep hanging wood – are a little exposed.

A short walk gets you straight to the Stepping Stones and you can add an easy out-and-back up Dovedale.
A long walk also takes in Hall Dale en route to lunch and returns through the full length of Dovedale.

Walk Options:
A Short Walk  to the base of Thorpe Cloud and then along the River Dove to the Stepping Stones and the bottom of Dovedale proper is 13.8 km/8.6 mi long with 213m ascent (rated 2/10). This can/should be combined with an (flat bar one small ascent) out-and-back up Dovedale towards Milldale hamlet with its tea option of a length of your choosing (up to 4.2 km/2.6 mi each way).
An out-and-back Extension  to the main walk from the footbridge over the River Dove north along Dovedale (flat) towards Milldale hamlet with its tea option adds anything up to 1.9 km/1.2 mi each way.
An Extension of the main walk up Hall Dale, through Hopedale and via Alstonefield village and Milldale hamlet creates a 26.5 km/16.4 mi walk with 772m ascent/descent, rated 9/10.
Bus line 442 from Fenny Bentley (15.31, 16.41 & 18.41, outside the Coach & Horses pub) to Ashbourne, 1.2 km off-route, cuts 3.5 km/2.2 mi.

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here.

Lunch: (on the main and short walks) The Dovedale Bar at the Izaak Walton Hotel in Ilam (7.1 km/4.4 mi, food all day); (on the long walk) The Watts Russell Arms  (food to 14.30) or The George (food to 14.00) in Alstonefield (between 14-15 km). Tea: Plenty of options en route, in Ashbourne and in Derby. For details see the pdf. T=swc.326


Take the 08.31 Sheffield train from St. Pancras to Derby, arrives 10.09. Then leave the station quickly and walk to the bus station 1.1 km away (for directions see page 4 of the pdf or download the gpx). [With a bit of luck there will be a delayed bus Line 1 waiting to go to the bus station (for a £1 fare)]
From Stand 24 at Derby Bus Station (the furthest stand as you enter it) take bus SW1 (direction Uttoxeter) to Ashbourne Bus Station, departs 10.20, arrives 10.57. Should the bus be gone, the City Centre and the Market Halls with some cafés are just around the corner/across the road…

You can also take the 08.02 Sheffield train from St. Pancras to Derby (this is dearer though), arrives 09.28. From Stand S1 in the train station forecourt in Derby take bus 114 to Ashbourne Bus Station, departs 09.53, arrives 10.47.

Relevant return buses, all terminating at Derby Bus Station, are… Line 114: 18.30 (arrives 19.08) and  Line SW1: 16.25 (arrives 17.05), 17.25 (arrives 18.05), 18.30 (arrives 19.00), 20.15 (arrives 20.45). Note: return tickets bought on the 114 are not valid on the SW1 and vice versa…

Relevant return trains  are therefore: 17.30, 18.31, 19.31 and 21.01 (the latter with a tight connection from the bus). After that there is only the 21.10 via Birmingham to Euston.

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