Dovedale Walk: The White Peak (7 miles/12 km)

I must have been in my twenties when I first discovered Dovedale and I find I’m still discovering new experiences each time I return. This walk is ideal for doing on a summer’s morning culminating with a picnic by the water: it would be perfect as a family walk (though testing for some kids I imagaine). It does get busy however, so if you’re going to make a visit, I’d suggest coming mid-week and avoiding it on the weekends!

This actual route combines the open sheep-grazed pastures of the local hills with the lush depths of this iconic valley. It also manages to tick off a visit to Reynard’s Cave (and numerous others along the way) as well as having the summit of Thorpe Cloud to tick off. My advice is to walk this anti-clockwise and thus savour the delights of Dovedale and the summit of Thorpe Cloud for the finale!

General Information

Start / Finish LocationThe Old Dog Public House, DE6 2AT (public car park is opposite)

Distance: 7 miles / 12 km

Height gain: 495 m

How tough? Moderate

Recommended kit list for UK hill walking

Personal experiences

When my youngest son was five we decided that it was time for him to walk his first 10 mile walk. It was the school summer holidays and I was waiting for a free day that would be sunny enough to allow us to achieve this aim. As a wet rainy week drew to its close I thought sod it: the kids need a good thrashing round the countryside. It was a miserable wet day and I poured the kids out of the car fully clad in their waterproofs. Inside about 10 minutes (let alone ten miles), Harry my youngest was flagging, so I needed something to keep him going. I resorted to an old trick where I plagiarise someone else’s story and retell it with my three children as the main protagonists.  (In this case it was a vague version of Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo). For four (long) hours I kept the story going, though we did break for lunch in the group-shelter along the way. They loved the story and the miles flew by. Eventually we got to Dovedale itself, and the kids were immediately drawn to its beautiful clear waters and just jumped in. It didn’t matter that they got wet: they were already pretty soaked through anyway. And, for a large part of the final couple of miles they splashed all the way back to our car.