Milldale to Ashbourne
8 miles at a plod
Petes view -
A day of change, with no more Derbyshire Hills, and the very southern dale to walk out of into flattish agricultural landscapes. Only twenty odd miles left to get back to the starting point of a few months ago. From Milldale the route took us on a well trodden path down Dove Dale, one of the top tourist attractions in Derbyshire and very populated at the weekends, albeit busiest within 500m of the car parks. Dove Dale offers some great limestone landscape, caves, pinnacles and wildlife. We diverted up to Reynards Cave high above the valley floor, where a Roman and late Iron Age coin hoard was found in 2014. I took the easy way down while the remainder slid and slithered their way down to the bottom. A series of weirs down the river controls the flow and as Thorpe Cloud appeared I knew the end of the best of Derbyshire landscapes was coming to a close. The route continued along the River Dove through pasture along the gentle floodplain until we reached Mapleton. The path unerringly headed across the fields to deposit us at a pub, where we enjoyed the sunshine, a pint and a lingering look back to the Derbyshire hills. We continued to follow the Dove down to Ashbourne by road and track, ending up by the allotments by the cemetry. I felt a change coming, not in the air but in my legs.
Kerrys view -
I felt rather sad. This was the walk that left the majestic hills and dales of the Peak District to the flatter landscapes between Ashbourne and Derby. We started from Milldale walking over the medieval packhouse bridge and turning south alongside the river Dove into the striking Dovedale, possibly the most popular and famous of all the Derbyshire Dales. At 3 miles long it rises dramatically into a chasm. Features to spot include fossils, limestone pillar rocks and many caves, including Reynards cave, which we scrambled up to. It was steeper than it looked passing through the natural arch and up into the cave. To be honest, the climb was worth it, not for the cave, but for the fantastic view back down. Pete opted to go down the ‘kinder on the knees’ route back down, I bum slid! We continued following the river only stopping for an ice cream and toilets and eventually left the crowds to the more peaceful and gentle pastures leading to Mappleton. Finally leaving the river, a path delivered us straight through sheep to a pub.
“Be rude not to stop for a drink”, so we sat awhile in the sunshine looking back longingly at the hills.
Satisfied, we carried on. The other car was in Ashbourne near the sewage works. The smell colliding with our nostrils announced the car was near and another walk completed. Only three more before we’d be back in Derby