Dovedale is often the first destination for visitors coming to the Peaks from the south. It was certainly my introduction to the area, coming from southern Staffordshire. The valley still marks the border between Staffordshire, on the west bank, and Derbyshire on the east.
The entrance to Dovedale is flanked by steep grass and scree covered slopes, and dominated by the dramatic cone of Thorpe Cloud on the eastern side of the dale. After a third of a mile the main path crosses the River Dove on stepping stones. The Dale then turns dramatically through ninety degrees to the left, and enters its most dramatic phase. For the next two miles the Dove runs through a steep wooded dale, flanked by crumbling crags and punctuated by caves. Beyond the woods the Dove continues to flow through a series of steep sided dales, which it enters at Woldscote Hill, just south of Hartington. It is possible to follow the Dove as far as Milldale, the only village in the dale.
The entrance to Dovedale is also flanked by a pair of villages - Ilam and Thorpe - both in the Manifold Valley. Between them you will find the Izaak Walton Hotel, which commemorates the co-author of the Compleat Angler, in which the Dove is described as "the princess of rivers", because of its clear trout filled waters.