Mayfield Hideaway is a perfect base for wildly different walks. From the Peak District’s prettiest valley Dovedale, to wind weathered sculptures along the gritstone ridge of The Roaches. There are myths, legends and fascinating discoveries to be made everywhere you walk: spot fossils hidden in Dovedale Stepping Stones, explore 10,000 year old Thor’s Cave one of the oldest sites of human activity in the Peaks, walk through ‘Lud’s Church’ a chasm in the rocks rumoured to be the meeting place of the Green Knight of Arthurian legend, or visit Doxeys’ Pool, wild swimming spot rumoured to be home to a mermaid.
Ilam (pronounced “Eye-lam”) is a gothic chocolate box village in a stunning setting of rolling hills. Ilam hall is now a Youth Hostel and tea room. The views from here are magical. Although it is owned by the National Trust, you only pay for parking and the tea shop, but there are lots of great walks from here, plenty of surprises in the grounds to explore and trails and activities for kids. Something for everyone.
The famous Dovedale stepping stones can be reached from Ilam (1.5 miles) or from the Dovedale public car park near to the Issac Walton hotel. There are toilets and at peak times a snack bar at the car park.
Ilam and Dovedale are both around £3 to park. From Dovedale car park it is a short and flat tarmac walk to the stepping stones on one side, with rougher terrain on the other. It is great for a paddle or splash so worth packing changes of clothes for kids. Bunster Hill to the right after crossing the stepping stones is rewarding to climb if you have the energy. Wave back to Mayfield Hideaway.
To the left the trail continues along the river to Milldale…
Milldale to Dovedale or Dovedale to Milldale is a great walk, about 6 miles as an out and back, with lots of interesting distractions on the route. You can take a higher level path to vary it over Bunster Hill and. Take in Reynards Cave, Dove Holes caves, Lovers Leap and magic money trees. You can take in Thorpe Cloud to make it feel like more of a circular walk. http://www.trekkingbritain.com/dovedaletomilldale.htm
Thor’s Cave can be approached via the Manifold Cycle track for a flat walk or cycle, or for a more traditional ramble, there are lovely circular routes from Wetton and Weag’s Bridge. The incredible Thor’s Cave is a hilltop cave with stunning views and history. Excavations have shown that the cave was occupied as long as 10,000 years ago and this occupation probably continued until Roman or Saxon times, making it one of the oldest sites of human activity in the Peak. Stone tools and the remains of a range of extinct animals were found within the cave.
The Roaches, Hen cloud and Ramshaw rocks are a huge ridge of gritstone rocks weathered into mystical shapes with absolutely stunning views. The area is loved by climbers and was once famous for its wallabies. These were released in World War II from a private zoo and managed to breed and survive until the late 1990s, but very occasionally people still claim sightings.
The Roaches is excellent for rock climbing and walking and atmospheric Lud’s Church (accessed from Gradbach) takes some beating, a 1000m chasm in the rocks which legend has it is the Green Chapel of Arthurian legend.
Is the original Alton estate, near to Alton Towers. It’s a lovely wooded walk, around a lake and along a river, great for dogs and with the Rambler’s Retreat at the end, a lovely tea room in a garden setting.
Choosing your Peak District walk…
We have lots of maps, walk routes and guides in the barn and caravan and can happily advise on routes, parking or suitable itineraries. If you fancy a super challenge, Penny has taken on the route for the 26 mile ‘Leaden Boot‘, Alstonefield village’s yearly challenge.