Photo-journal: A circular walk from Ilam Hall with a visit to Dovedale

I've one final post from our recent trip to Derbyshire - it's is a circular walk starting from (and therefore ending in) Ilam which takes in some of Dovedale on the way. This was our first time at Dovedale as it was closed on our previous visit to Derbyshire, because of the foot and mouth outbreak. It was open this time, and we're glad we went back.

We pulled up to the car park at Dovedale to learn as National Trust members we were in the wrong place for free parking, and we should infact be at Ilam Hall a mile or so down the road. So off we went to park there. We reckoned that if it was just a mile or so, we could walk back. And it turned out we could, and we did. 

[By the way, if you're not an NT member the Dovedale car park is very reasonably priced.]

So we parked at Ilam Hall, which is run as a Youth Hostel by YHA and not open to the public. There's a visitor centre, tea room and a notice board showing walks from Ilam Hall. Having found the path we wanted we headed out of the car park, through the village and towards Bunster Hill and Dovedale. 

And it was uphill, for a change...

And then we reached a new kind of stile, and a couple trying to teach their dog how to manoeuvre itself through it. The dog was refusing and the couple were lifting the dog over; they said it was going to be a long walk, for them!  We walked off smiling to ourselves but I reckon the dog was taking the dog-equivalent of my strategic photo stops...

We walked through more fields with sheep, including these two which now look like they have no faces.

And it wasn't long before we were back at the Dovedale car park and another notice board pointing out the "must sees" along the route to Milldale. 

We reached the famous stepping stones and headed across them to reach the main part of the path. Halfway across MOH called out to me distracting my concentration and breaking my (slow) rhythm and for a moment I thought I was stuck. I managed to get my legs going again and made it to the other side, but for a moment.... 

Phew!

And looking back towards the stepping stones, once I was safely on dry land!

A coin-ridden trunk didn't make for the most comfortablest of seats according to MOH. 

Well after a short break to take in the view, we headed off up here, for more spectacular views!

It was here, near Ilam rock that we stopped for lunch. The couple with the dog (the one being lifted over stiles) wandered past, as did several other couples that we'd seen and nodded to along the way. Looking at the map we spotted that we could take a left uphill towards Stanshope and then with another left along the way head back to Ilam, approaching it from the other side. 

This appealed to us both, as despite it being quite steeply uphill to start with, it was also a little more challenging and interesting from a map-reading perspective, not that we are experts by any means. 

So off we went. 

We walked up many steps, here's one of my strategic photo stops!

And then we felt like we were being watched... And we were!

Having reached the top, it was now the "along" section of our route, so we followed the path...

...until we reached a gate, which we walked around not through!

Yes, it really was just there on its own!

Well we were almost back at Ilam, but not quite. Before our walk was finished we encountered this amazing view:

Before turning the corner and seeing Ilam Cross come back into view. 

As we headed back up the drive towards Ilam Hall it started to rain - we're not normally known for our timing but on this day it was impeccable, and we headed into the tea rooms to celebrate this with tea and cake!