Situated in the south of the Peak District National Park, the Dovedale valley is one of England’s most scenic spots. A narrow wooden ravine runs for five kilometres between Thorpe Cloud and Milldale, passing dramatic limestone formations and caves. It’s an easy hike that includes stepping stones in the river, making it a popular tourist attraction for families.
Slabs of limestone fill the ravine, including natural jagged pinnacles and Lover’s Leap, a set of steps built by Italian prisoners during World War II. These are seen on the well-established hiking route through Dovedale, which is one of the UK’s most popular short hikes. Thorpe Cloud is a hill and provides stunning views over the surrounding area. To the north is Milldale, where stone cottages and narrow bridges make for another endearing photo.
Most visitors start in Milldale, where there is ample car parking space. The trail descends to the stepping stones, where everyone can skip across the River Dove. After crossing the river, a series of hiking trails head out through the limestone ravine, either up to Thorpe Cloud or onwards through the Peak District National Park.
Tourists have been enjoying Dovedale for a few centuries, although it was only when the railway was extended to Thorpe Cloud in 1899 that it became accessible to all. Author George Byron claimed it was “as noble as Greece or Switzerland” while Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet talk about visiting Dovedale in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.