The walk started in the car park in Milldale. It's quite a size, but it does fill up, so arriving early is a good idea.
It was fairly early in the morning, around 8am, and the sun was low in the sky. The side effect is quite high contrast photographs, not the best conditions to make nice pictures.
In the small hamlet of Milldale there is a barn near the river with information inside about Dovedale and the places to walk. Next door are some toilets, and later in the morning there is a shop that sells sandwiches, drinks, nik-naks etc.
The Dove River was not particularly high, but it did look cold. There are points where the path drifts away from the river a little, diminishing the character of the walk.
The scenery around the Dove River is extremely picturesque, even at this time of year with no leaves on the trees and a sun far too low in the sky to do it justice.
The lack of clouds made for a breathtaking morning to walk in. It was quite cold, around zero and never getting above 3C. But this was my kind of walking weather. I stayed nice and cool and was enjoying the fresh air.
I've been playing with some of the features on my new camera, the image below is a panoramic shot of the Dove holes. They are an interesting feature and worth a look around. In adverse weather they would make for a welcome resting place.
This is looking back at The Nabs, a couple of small peaks situated slightly east of the Dove Holes and becoming more visible as you head south along the river from the Dove Holes.
The Ilam Rock (below) is quite dramatic. It's a serious slab of rock shooting up from the river bank high above. There is a bridge here at this point in the river allowing access to other paths.
There is a section around halfway between Milldale and Dovedale where the river cuts through a gorge. The wooden path here was a little slippery in the icy weather, so caution is needed as you are right next to the river.
In the area of the gorge are the occassional stream feeding into the river, the one below was particularly interesting. The small stream of water can be seen in the bottom.
The rock formation below is part of The Tissington Spires, an amazing rock feature that on a nice Summer day will probably be highly photogenic.
The high point in the middle of the photograph is Lover's Leap, I had no intention of finding out how much of a leap it is, but there is a reasonable drop at the other side.
The path enters into Dovedale. The sun was still low in the sky, I was not having much luck from a photographic point of view. It was a constant battle to find the right exposures and best choice of shots. I will definitely have to come back next Summer.
The Dovedale stepping stones were particularly challenging to cross on this particular morning as a little ice was still settled on the top of the stones. They raised the heart beat a little.
The sun did provide some positives, such as lovely lighting on the river.
Once near to the Car Park I took a path off to the right heading east around the back of the village of Ilam and towards Bunster Hill, a popular spot for para-gliders.
Looking back I could finally take a good photograph of Thorpe cloud and the surrounding hills. In Dovedale the sun was far too low for a good photograph to be taken.
The walk to Bunster Hill(below) is quite easy, although it does get a little muddy. The top of the hill is another nice spot for a quick break and a look round at the scenery.
Looking north from Bunster Hill, the path to follow looking at the OS map was pretty clear with a sharp turn off to the left and up the hill along the stone wall in the distance.
Once to the Ilam Tops the scenery around you is very nice. It reminds me a great deal of the Dales, with maybe a few more trees.
The path cuts round to the right of that plantation in the centre of the photograph and on to Ilamtops Farm.
At the farm you take a turn right which takes you down the farm track Dovedale Wood.
Following along the wood, heading north you are able to cut back down to Ilam rock and it's footbridge back across the river. I headed north from here back to Milldale.
It was an interesting walk, but by no means a challenging one. If you want a no brainer, easy but enjoyable walk, this is worth a look. But I would take a camera. Even in no so favourable conditions, when the sun is so low, you'll still take plenty of photographs. In the summer, I dread to think how many I will take.