Ilam, Bunster Hill, Dovedale Wood, Dove Dale

1 Hr 44 mins

4.22 miles (6.79 Km)

Either Ilam village (if space available) or Dovedale car park

SK136509/SK147509

Dove Dale car park start

Take stile or gate opposite toilet block (i.e. if you were driving up entrance road to car park, stile/gate would be on your left as you turn 90 deg right into car park) and follow the wide path for 30 mtrs (running parallel with the entrance road) then take the path right up between the trees to a stile.
Trend slightly left passing back of Izzak Walton hotel on your left and over 2 stiles (follow sign to “Ilam”).
After 2nd stile trend slightly left to far left corner of field and gate.
Straight over next field to stile (access land).
Continue straight on passing bench on right (the Ilam village start drops down left shortly after the bench) and head uphill before farm signposted “Stanshope”.

Ilam village start (miss out next 4 lines if starting from Dove Dale car park)

Head away from the centre of the village towards Dovedale car park and take the gate on left opposite a lay-by by the river and next to the “Ilam” village sign (sign in the field “Bunster Hill”).
Uphill for 50 mtrs to farm track.
Turn left and head uphill signposted “Stanshope”.

Both starts are now at the same point.

Follow farm track to gate with large stile on left.
Over stile and straight on through open gate at far end of field.
Bear slightly right to top right corner of field to reach a stile.
Over stile and up left side of steep hill (avoid gate on left part way up) to gate at top left corner of field.
Through gate and continue uphill heading for the large tree and barn when they become visible.
Through gate and turn left onto farm track.
Right at the “T” junction of farm tracks and down to Air Cottage.
Over the cattle grid at entrance to Air Cottage and follow the signs on right through a small field.
The path is then signposted leftwards.
Follow the well defined path traversing along the top of Dovedale Wood passing through a gate (signposted “Dove Dale”) until the path forks.
Take the right fork down steps to begin with then track down to the River Dove.
Right at the bottom to the bridge at Ilam Rock, over the river and turn right.
Continue downstream to the car park. Be careful not to be tempted onto the narrow track that leads down to the river when the main path bears left uphill. It is possible to go that way but there’s a very steep climb at the end of it to get back onto the main path. From the stepping stones over the Dove, it’s possible to head down either side of the river as they both reach the car park.
If you’ve parked in Ilam village, follow the instructions above (“Dove Dale car park start”) to get back to Ilam from Dove Dale car park