TOG Foundation

Julia Bradbury’s Dovedale Walk – Peak District

You are here:

Powered by Outdooractive.

Handpicked boutique luxury to family & pet friendly hotels.

An assortment of interesting stop off points along our walks.

A selection of campsites and glamorous camping locations.


Walk Details

This walk featured on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on in their series of Winter Walks.

We affectionately call the Dovedale Walk in the Peak District, the Lovedale walk in our family.

My Dad Michael was born in Tideswell and my rite of passage as a young girl was to walk across the Peaks with him, from about the age of 6.

We have lots of ‘one of our walks’ but I’ve chosen this one above others not just because it is a favourite of the nation, but because we have some special memories of treading the stones fantastic.

The stones I’m talking about are the Dovedale Stepping Stones which have been photographed zillions of times and take you from one side of the River Dove to the other.

Originally put in place during the Victorian Era to increase the number of tourists in the region, these days you’re lucky if you don’t have to queue up for half an hour to hop across. I think I was about 7 when my walking boots first made contact. For almost its entire course the River Dove forms the boundary between the counties of Staffordshire and Derbyshire and is a famous trout stream. I learned to tickle trout not far from here near Buxton when I was about 10.

This forbidden activity (also known as guddling or noodling in the States) is utterly frowned upon and very rare these days and most definitely doesn’t happen along the banks of this river (which used to be pronounced Douv by the way, rhyming with ‘grove’). I interviewed my Dad about our trout tickling days on one of my TV walks and he spoke fondly about the area and this special limestone waterway. He then went on to say “tickling your first trout is a bit like your first woman; slippery at first touch and completely unforgettable”. The soundbite remained in the final edit and to this day I remain scarred.

As you walk this beautifully picturesque 6km circular route it’s more than likely that you’ll see anglers waist high in the river hoping for a bite from the Brown Trout, Barbel or Chub. It’s a well-known fishing spot argued to be the birthplace of competitive angling, made famous in part by the author Izzak Walton in the 1600’s, who was inspired by this location to write one of his books ‘The Complete Angler’ (you can pick up a first edition for around £1000).

I had a go once, waders and all, and was entirely rubbish, but at least I can tell my kids I have fished The Dove. In fishing circles they talk about the huge variety of water with fast sections, long glides, tumbling weirs and deep pools. The trout and grayling are apparently ‘free rising to abundant hatches of Mayfly and Blue Winged Olives’. Just not for me.

I recommend starting the walk in the quiet village of Thorpe, in the station car park near The Old Dog Pub. It’s definitely worth taking a detour up to the summit of Thorpe Cloud, which comes into view early on. This jagged 287m peak comes before the Stepping Stones and you’ll be stunned by the sweeping views across the dale and the meandering waters below. The trail leads back down to the bottom of the hill to the edge of the river in this picture-perfect gorge, where the stones and the rest of the route awaits. As Izzak Walton said “The waters are natures storehouse in which she locks up her wonders.” It’s not one of the UK’s most popular routes for no reason, but for me it will always be ‘one of our walks’.

Julia Bradbury

Read more ...

trainNearest Train (or tube) Station(s):
Cromford (14 miles)

Local Information

Read the Countryside Code before venturing out
Make sure to take a map and compass, and know how to use them before going into our National Parks #BeAdventureSmart

Tips for New Walkers: click here to download (PDF).

Remember to prepare properly before heading out on any type of walk or outdoor activity. Tell people where you are going and what time you are expected back. As Wainwright says "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing".