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Dovedale National Nature Reserve

Posted by Luci Ackers on 24 February 2016
Related property: Blore Hall
Dovedale Stepping stones on the River Dove

The Peak District is famous for its magnificent landscape, peaks, dales and rivers. One particular favourite with visitors is Dovedale. Named after the river that gouged it, this dale is around 3 miles long and was formed millions of years ago. During the Ice Ages, huge amounts of melt water cut through the layers of rock to produce the steep gorges and caves such as Dove Holes and Reynard's Cave.

Dovedale is part of The White Peak area, which is known for its gentle limestone hills, striking valleys and interesting rock formations. The caves in the Dove Valley, still an attraction today, were once used as shelters by early hunters around 15,000 years ago. Neolithic farmers buried their dead in caves like Reynard's Cave, and by the time the Romans occupied the land it is thought the caves were used as temporary shelters for shepherds. Place names such as nearby Thorpe indicate the later Scandinavian influence before the Norman Conquest. Þorp (pronounced thorp) is the Old Norse word for a hamlet. As you wander the area you will stumble upon thousands of years' worth of history, and may not even realise it.

Image: Dove Holes - © Copyright David Stowell and licensed for reuse

Dovedale is almost entirely owned by the National Trust and they recommend a good walk from Ilam Park, which houses the 19th century Ilam Hall and is located close to the villages of Blore and Thorpe. The walk includes Ilam village, wonderful countryside scenery, good views and finishes up at the Dovedale Stepping Stones. These stepping stones were first set down during the Victorian Period for tourists to cross the river. If that walk isn't quite enough for you, the footpath from the stepping stones continues a further 2.5 miles to the hamlet Milldale. Look out for the famous Lover's Leap on your journey – a large rock jutting out over the river.

The scenery of Dovedale has attracted visitors since Victorian times. The River Dove follows a meandering course through a series of spectacular limestone gorges at Wolfscote Dale and Milldale, before reaching Dovedale. One of the more popular walks through the reserve now is along the river bank of the Dove between Dovedale and Milldale.

Enjoy the landscape for yourself and try out these walks. Find out how to stay in Blore by entering your details at the bottom of the page.


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Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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