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Best Off-The-Beaten-Track Walks Near Ilam

1. Coldwall Bridge

Starting at Ilam, this lovely quiet (mostly) walk takes you over Coldwall Bridge, a beautiful location which takes you back in time. Over the picture-perfect bridge where you can imagine a horse-drawn cart crossing or a Victorian farmer shooing sheep from one side of the River Dove to the other.

The stile on to Coldwall Bridge

Coldwall Bridge

The walk is peaceful and most of the route is not very well travelled so you’ll be able to get a sense of the Peak District without the hoards of tourists, particularly the section from Blore to Thorpe, despite it being part of the Limestone Way.

OS Map Marked up with walking route – Ilam to Coldwall Bridge and Thorpe

This 5-mile walk does include a stroll through Dovedale, which can be the most hectic slice of the Peak District. There have been times on sunny bank holidays when there are so many people queuing to cross the river at the stepping-stones that a crossing guard or traffic lights would have been very welcome. So, if you go on a sunny weekend and prefer to avoid that, head down the left side of the river and cross at the bridge nearer to Dovedale carpark.

Dovedale Stepping Stones – Lin Dale off picture to left

2. Castern and Bunster

From Beechenhill, this circular walk takes you down past Casterne Hall, along the River Manifold to Ilam and up the side of Bunster Hill.

Casterne Hall

Casterne Hall

You pass the beautiful Casterne Hall which has been used as a location in Peaky Blinders, you can imagine the Shelby Family lording it up there can’t you?

OS Map Marked up with walking route – Beechenhill to Casterne, Ilam and Bunster

Other things to look out for on this walk:

  • The River Hamps which is often dry near Rushley Bridge when the weather is dry, see where it bubbles up after promenading along Paradise Walk in Ilam Park.
  • Manifold Tea Room at Ilam Park, from the garden tables, you can enjoy the most beautiful views whilst guzzling a cream tea.
  • The Village Pond just at the base of Bunster Hill.
  • An old limestone quarry just beyond Moor Plantation as you reach the top of the hill when you are nearly back to Beechenhill.

3. Old Mines

The Disused Tin mines sit in a pretty spot on the edge of the Manifold Valley. They are the centre point of this circular walk from Beechenhill Farm.

After a walk that takes you round the back of Casterne Hall, you head up to the edge of the Manifold Valley.

Stop to admire the beautiful views of Hazledon Clump

The piles of rock from the disused Highfield Mines have now formed little mossy hills amongst a pretty group of trees, but if you look carefully, you can find the tops of a couple of mine shafts with grates on top. If you have children (or even if not) choose some pebbles and drop them down, listen to how long it takes for the pebble to hit something. Hint – a surprisingly long time! We took a ball of string, tied a rock to the end and tried to find the bottom, we ran out of string.

OS Map Marked up with walking route – Beechenhill to the Old Mines

Look out for the donkeys at Damgate Farm on the way back to Beechenhill, they are very friendly!

This is a walk that is perfectly possible to do without seeing another person – beautifully remote and peaceful.

4. Lime Kiln and Hall Dale

A walk to the Lime Kiln and back, makes an interesting and pretty un-strenuous stroll from Beechenhill and back, but if you are looking to make it a circular walk, it can be the start (or the end) of a gorgeous walk that takes you down my favourite valley in the area, Hall Dale.

Old Lime Kiln built into the hill at the edge of Dovedale

You pass an interesting old barn along the walled walk to the Lime Kiln, it has great big struts holding it up, and whenever we pass the barn we think what a beautiful house it would make.

OS Map Marked up with walking route – Lime Kiln Walk with Hall Dale loop

The Hall Dale loop that you can add on to the Lime Kiln walk makes it a bit more exciting. As you might be able to see on the map, the footpath linking Hall Dale to the straight path from the road is marked in red – it is steep! It might be a bit slippy on the way down and certainly is a scramble on the way up.

The part of Hall Dale that you experience though, is a slice of heaven – it is quiet, really quiet. I think the way it sits in the earth must cut out aeroplane and traffic noise that you don’t even notice when walking in other parts of the Peaks. The wind drops too, it is a meditative place, there is something quite magical about it.

Hall Dale

5. Hall Dale and Dovedale Wood

If you fancy a lovely long walk including the heavenly Hall Dale, try this one, it takes you behind Lower Damgate farm up to Stanshope and all the way down Hall Dale. You then experience the less populated middle section of the Dovedale Valley, then make your way up the very steep steps (that feel like they may never end) until you emerge high on the side of the valley with beautiful glimpses of the gorge through the trees.

OS Map Marked up with walking route – Hall Dale and Dovedale Wood Circular Walk

On this route you will pass Air Cottage, built by the owners of Ilam Hall in the 1800s, by a father for his consumptive daughter, she was prescribed clear country air. Unfortunately, as in many tragic Victorian stories, the afflicted girl died before the cottage was completed. The views and the clear air remain though, and the cottage is set in the most beautiful spot overlooking Dovedale.

Hall Dale