River Dove


The River Dove rises on the slopes of Axe Edge, close to the Leek to Buxton road and runs southwards for 45 miles to join the River Trent with for much of its course, runing with one bank in Derbyshire and one in Staffordshire. It is a walker’s river in that it is possible to walk down the first 20 miles of it’s course.

Although only a stream, the Dove has a pronounced valley within half a mile of it’s source. There are alot of packhorse routes in this area and footpaths now follow these old trails, often with only a single slab of stone forming a river crossing.

The river Dove widens as it reaches Hollinsclough and flows beneath the reef knolls of Hollins Hill, Crome Hill, Parkhouse and Hitter before passing High Wheeldon, a large rounded hill with a cave that has yielded mesolithic remains. Below Glutton the Dove quiety trickles along in a deep and fairly wide valley past Longnor, Crowdecote and Pilsbury onto the every popular tourist attraction of Hartington village with it’s cheese factory and shop. Below Hartington the valley becomes a gorge, the meadows ending abruptly at Beresford Dale which is narrow and leafy, a charming miniture of the Derbyshire ‘gem’ Dovedale.

As one approaches Beresford Dale from the Hartington end, a scene of indescribeable beauty enfolds as one is led beside the glistering waters which break over little weirs. It is well wooded and wildflowers grow in profusion down to the waters edge. The air is full of bird song. Beresford Dale is associated with Izzak Walton and his friend, though 40 years his junior, Charles Cotton, and the 17th century classic ‘The Compleat Angler or The Contemplative Man’s Recreation’.

Charles Cotton’s home and birthplace was Beresford Hall which stood above the dale. The ruins can still be seen. In 1674 he built a Fishing Temple which still stands in a corner of private grounds by the river and is a secular shrine to all anglers. It is a stone built, single roomed building, with his own monogram entwined with Walton’s over the door. As the wooded section comes to an end, one can cross the footbridge and continue to walk along side the river Dove, though the valley has now opened out and low lying meadows take the place of the gorge. Not for long, because you soon arrive at another footbridge and the start of Wolfscote Dale where the valley is deeper. It flows onto Mill Dale which is more wooded. Only one side of the dale is accessible to ramblers here, a footpath follwing the road and the river. Mill Dale itself is a popular place, despite being very small. It has a small car park, a shop and toilets and Viator Bridge, the northern entrance into Dovedale.

Dovedale is beautiful and popular with over a million visitors a year coming to admire it’s steep wooded sites and white rocks carved into fantastic towers, caves and spires.

The river Dove joins the river Manifold at Ilam, a popular village and country park before flowing on through Mapleton, Church Mayfield and Lower Ellastone, still as the Dove, past Rocester and the through the low lands of Southern Derbyshire on it’s way to the Trent at Newton Solney.