A Pictorial and Descriptive
Guide to Buxton, The Peak, Dovedale, Etc.

Ward, Lock & Co.'s

Illustrated Guide Books
Series 1939-40

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013



Access.- Dovedale runs more or less parallel with the Ashbourne-Buxton main road and railway. Thorpe Cloud Station is near the southern end; Alsop-en-le-Dale the northern end. Hartington Station serves the northern end of Beresford Dale. Buses connect Thorpe and Ilam with Ashbourne.
Motorists wishing to walk through the Dale and return to their cars may be reminded of the parking facilities at the stations as well as at the hotels. There is a parking place at the south end of the Dale, reached by the lane beside the Izaak Walton Hotel, but it is inadvisable to depend upon finding a vacant piece of ground at Milldale. See also pp. 23-4.

DOVEDALE proper extends northwards from Thorpe Cloud to Dove Holes, a distance of 2 miles. The path leads up the Derbyshire side, and those who make the Izaak Walton their starting-place must cross either the foot-bridge, a little north of the hotel, or the stepping stones still higher up, at the first bend of the river: those with no taste for the latter should bear this in mind before passing the bridge. From Thorpe the way is by path down the deepening glade to the right of Thorpe Cloud.

Those who wish to see as much as possible within the limits of a comfortable day's excursion are recommended to drive to Thorpe, viâ Tissington; thence to walk through Dovedale to Mill Dale, and on to Wetton, and Thor's Cave, returning direct from Wetton to Thorpe through Ilam. Whatever else is omitted the walk through Dovedale from Thorpe to Mill Dale must certainly be included. Those for whom the whole round is too far can reach Thorpe by rail or motor, and Mill-dale is a long 1½ miles from the Buxton-Ashbourne road at Alsop-en-le-Dale Station. A gem that is too often omitted is Beresford Dale, a comfortable walk from Hartington and actually accessible by motor by turning left at Hulme End and left again in about a mile. The lane down is rough, but safe (see p. 24).


Proceeding through Higher Buxton, and passing the western end of the Duke's Drive, we enter a reach of road as



straight as a dart for a couple of miles. Three miles from Buxton we bear off to the right past Brierlow with its quarries, and, on the left a mile farther, the village of Earl Sterndale, which has an inn famed for its sign of The Quiet Woman, who is represented by the full-length figure of a farmer's wife minus her head!

Then on the right two remarkably steep heights appear like huge natural fortresses. They are known respectively as Park Hill and Chrome Hill. Through Glutton Dale, “a Highland pass in miniature”, across the Dove, we leave Derbyshire and climb towards-


a small Staffordshire market town, a mile from the river. Its churchyard contains a remarkable variety of quaint epitaphs.

Four miles from Longnor we cross the Manifold and then pass near Ecton Hill, on which are mines that in the eighteenth century yielded such quantities of copper that in a single year they supplied the Duke of Devonshire with the large sum needed to pay for the building of the Crescent at Buxton. The principal shaft goes to a depth of 1,400 feet, but the mines are now closed, as the lower shafts are flooded.

There is little to claim special attention until, 14 miles from Buxton, we enter-


which has a church of some interest, with a prominent tower. The greater part of the church is Perpendicular, but portions belong to earlier periods. The chancel, rebuilt in 1590, is unusually large. The windows, except that at the east end, which is modern, belong to earlier structures. Objects of interest are the Charles Cotton pew at the east end of the north aisle; a pew dated 1637 standing near the pulpit; and a monument to Rogerus Farmer, who died in 1682.

From Alstonefield the road swings round to drop into the valley of the Dove at Lode Mill, half a mile above Mill Dale and about midway between Dovedale and Beresford Dale. The village of Alsop-en-le-Dale lies a mile beyond the river.



The most direct route from Buxton to the northern end of Dovedale is by the Ashbourne road as far as Alsop-en-le-Dale Station. Alsop village, a model of cleanliness, stands east of the road and the railway, and some little distance below them, but is worth the detour by those with time in hand. It may be reached from the station by a field path which crosses two fields and commands pleasant views of the village. The celebrated brewers of Burton-on-Trent, Allsopp by name, sprang from the place.

The lane opposite the station leads to Lode Mill; but for Dovedale proper take the field path (indicated by signpost). On the opposite side of the road to which this pathway leads is a gap in a wall, giving entrance to grassy undulating fields, and a well-defined cart track. Passing by a farm and prominent plantation of trees, the track leads up to the farmyard of Hanson Grange. The visitor is now close to the entrance to the Dale, and by bearing to the right round the farm buildings one sees the steep slope (Nabs Dale) leading down to the gorge of the Dove at Dove Holes (see p. 100). Those who wish to enter the Dale at its southern end follow the Ashbourne road beyond Alsop-en-le-Dale to the gates of Tissington (see p. 123), opposite which a lane on the right leads in about a mile to the village of Thorpe. Walkers will find an attractive footpath out of the lane about half a mile from the main road.

The Dale.

In the strict sense of the word, Dovedale is not a dale, for it is not an open strath. It is a narrow gorge-like valley, some three miles in length, with wooded slopes rising almost sheer from a crystal stream. Here and there the walls of foliage are broken by limestone rocks that mimic every variety of architectural shape. Bastion, basilica, and buttress, minaret and pinnacle, pyramid and arch, turret and spire, tower and cupola, follow one another in bewildering beauty.

It has been said, and we think without exaggeration, that the visitor may come hither straight from Switzerland or the Pyrenees, and “be ready to acknowledge that Europe does not yield another picture so sweet in sylvan beauty, or so changeful in its fairy-like combination of wood and rock and water”, as this most lovely part of the valley of the Dove.


The valleys of Cumberland and Wales, of the Wye and the Dart, have an unlikeness to the peculiar charm of the Dove. They are wide-spreading and profuse in their beauty, while Dovedale is a scene of hemmed-in loveliness, of compressed beauty. In this very minuteness is its charm. It is a glen diversified with clefts and dingles, alternate juts and recesses of rocks, wooded hollows and towering heights, and its flower-decked banks are washed by the foam-crisped wavelets of the willful stream.

The modern Izaak Walton will have reason to pause time after time as he wanders along the banks of the Dove. Here he may see a grayling, there a trout, each with its nose directed against the stream, waiting for the food, natural or artificial, that the stream carries towards it. For the information of the fly-fisher who longs to follow the example set by the author of The Compleat Angler, it may be recorded here that fishing may be had by guests at certain hotels in the vicinity (see pp. 27-8). The stream is so clear that it seems to cast a light upwards through the shady recesses of the overhanging cliffs. Along the gorge the Dove wanders over its limestone bed, now gurgling against the rocks, now circling in eddies, now splashing in little waterfalls, now calmly resting in pools, amidst which wait the trout and the grayling for their “daily bread”. How the angler loves these pools!

Dovedale not only delights by its scenery; there is also the subtle charm of its association with those apostles of the rod, Izaak Walton and his dear friend, Charles Cotton. The latter thus apostrophizes the river which now glides quietly but swiftly through the vale, and anon rushes with turbulence and wrath:-

“Oh Oh my beloved nymph, fair Dove,
Princess of rivers, how I love
Upon thy flowery banks to lie
And view thy silver stream,
When gilded by a summer's beam”.

And again he sings its praises thus:-

“The rapid Garonne and the winding Seine
Are both too mean,
Beloved Dove, with thee
To vie priority
Nay, Thame and Isis, when conjoined, submit
And lay their trophies at thy silver feet”.



Our starting-point is the Stepping-Stones at the foot of Thorpe Cloud. At this point the dale, which begins a few hundred yards back between the slopes of Thorpe Cloud and Bunster, takes an abrupt turn to the north-west, and the scenery commences. The track, which is by the river-side all the way, first crosses a narrow greensward, and then climbs to one of the best view-points in the dale-Sharplow Point. The stream is broken by a succession of little weirs - partly artificial and holding back the water in a manner which will only be appreciated by the angler. Around us are hawthorn, hazel and a multitude of other trees, shrubs, and wild flowers.

In springtide, when every little knoll is carpeted with primroses, or in the late autumn, when the foliage assumes its ruddiest tint, the dale wears its loveliest aspect. The preponderance of ash in its more thickly wooded parts defers till very late in the season the period at which winter utterly strips it of its leafy honours, and even then its undergrowth of bracken, and the sombre yews which take root in the crevices of its steepest crags, maintains a contrast of colour till the vivid green of the sprouting larch ushers in returning vegetation.

On the Staffordshire side, as we approach Sharplow Point, the woods climb from the water's edge to the brow of the hills, but they are broken by a series of steep and rugged limestone crags which have been fancifully named the Twelve Apostles. Sharplow Point (the local “Lover's Leap”) itself is a bare face of rock a few yards to the left of the path. Occupying a sharp angle of the stream, and standing high above it, it commands a beautiful vista in both directions. Northwards the dale is seen becoming narrower and narrower till there is only room for the river to pass between the perpendicular cliffs which hem it in. Southwards the cone of Thorpe Cloud rises most effectively, and secures that entire exclusion of extraneous objects which is the characteristic of Dovedale views. Eastward a grassy glade, by which Tissington may be reached in a miles, ascends steeply to the right of Tissington Spires, as a group of jagged and lofty rock-pinnacles is called. They somewhat resemble the famous needle rocks of Cheddar, and though in reality they are only scarped projections of the high ground behind them, they


have every appearance from below of being virgin peaks. They are, however, best seen from a little way farther on our route. A climb up this glade is well worth while.

Beyond Sharplow Point the track again descends to the water's edge, passing, on the Staffordshire side, a deeply fissured mass of rock, to which the name Dovedale Church has been given. A little farther, we have on the right, high above us, Reynard's Cave, a wide-portalled alcove, worth visiting for the sake of the lovely views of the Straits of Dove dale, as the narrowest part of the glen is called. Close to the cave is a large natural arch perforating a ridge of rock only a few feet wide.

We now approach the narrowest part of the dale, which is appropriately called the Straits. At this point the Staffordshire side is quite impassable, and the Derbyshire side affords only a narrow causeway between the stream and the impending rock. After heavy rain even this is flooded. The beauty of the glen hereabouts is of a very high order; foliage and water are brought into their closest contrast. Hawthorn, hazel and wilding creepers encroach on the track, and darkling yews grow out of the chinks in the perpendicular crags. A rock in front, on the Derbyshire side, is, with a fair show of reason, called the Lion's Head.

A few strides farther, and we have left the beauty of Dovedale behind us. It ends as it began - thoroughly unique. Nature has even given it a gateway, the posts whereof are two towering crags, one on each side. Looking back between these rugged portals, after we have passed through them, we find another remarkable view of the dale, scarcely inferior in beauty to any of those we have already described.

Just beyond the portals a refreshment but invites one to celebrate the fact that Hurt Wood, with much of Dovedale, is in the keeping of the National Trust. Those who have no desire to continue to Mill Dale can make a way up through the wood to the Ilam - Wetton road.

Passing over a pleasant meadow we again come to a rocky path and suddenly encounter three huge-mouthed caverns, big enough to have accommodated the monster Cacus, and called Dove Holes. These caves mark the junction of Dovedale and Mill Dale: on the right Nabs Dale offers a way up to Hanson Grange and the main road at Alsop-en-le-Dale station.

The main route, however, passes into-


Mill Dale,

which suffers by comparison with Dovedale. Steep hills still rise from the stream on both sides, but they are only scantily varied with rock, and there is very little relief of foliage.

The scenery soon begins to recover, however. If Mill Dale cannot vie with Dovedale it is nevertheless a very charming little valley, especially that part just below the tiny hamlet of Milldale. At the end of the hamlet is a pack-horse bridge. “What's here, the sign of a bridge?” asks “Viator” in the Compleat Angler. “Do you use to travel with wheelbarrow in this country? . . . because this bridge certainly was made for nothing else; why, a mouse can hardly go over it, it is not two fingers broad”. The bridge is now scheduled as a National Monument. A mile above the bridge is Lode Mill, whence the road goes up (right) to the New Inns Hotel and (left) to Wetton. The riverside path continues and in about a mile enters Wolfseote Dale, another lovely reach. So to-

Beresford Dale.

This is one of the prettiest parts of the Dove. Steep limestone crags, finely overgrown with birch and other trees, enclose it on both sides, while laurel and rhododendron n decking the pleasant greensward between the river and the rocks make it on a warm summer's day quite a little Paradise. The Dale is less than a mile long, but, short though it is, it presents an epitome of the beauties of the whole of Dovedale, and forms the theme of that “Second Part” which Cotton added to Walton's Compleat Angler. Walton tells us that the Dale is not far “from Mr. Cotton's house, below which place this delicate river takes a swift career betwixt many mighty rocks, much higher and bigger than St. Paul's Church (old St. Paul's Cathedral), before it was burnt”. The rocks mentioned by Walton are well wooded, and many are pierced by caves. At the northern end of the Dale a sharp pointed rock rises like a stake from the river, this part of which has in consequence been named Pike Pool - described by the “Viator” of Waltonian days as “the oddest sight I ever saw”. Recrossing to the Derbyshire side, we notice on the side we have just left the famous-


Fishing House,

erected by Charles Cotton in 1674. It is a small stone structure of one room only, built with the grey limestone of the district, and standing on a tree-shaded peninsula on the Staffordshire side of the Dove. Its roof is high-pitched and surmounted by a stone pillar and a ball. The legend “Piscatoribus sacrum, 1674”, with Cotton's and Walton's intertwined initials beneath it, may still be seen over the circular-headed door by visitors privileged to view the place; but the full-dress portraits of the two friends, with which the interior was graced, have long disappeared, though the fireplace, the marble table and the old oak chairs remain.

A strange friendship was that of Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton. The one was the biographer of Donne, Wotton, Hooker, Herbert, and Sanderson; the other wrote the indecencies of “Virgile Travestie”; the one was the most pious of saints, the other the most profligate of sinners. Their companionship can only be accounted for by the attraction of opposites. The spirits of Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton haunt Dovedale. Dante is not more closely associated in history with Florence, nor Shakespeare with Stratford, than the Fleet Street draper and the young Derbyshire squire are with the banks of the Dove.

On private ground, also on the Staffordshire side of the stream, are the Prospect Tower and Cotton's Cave. The former is a modern structure standing on the site of the original tower, which it was made to resemble as much as was possible through the guidance of old drawings. The tower was in the grounds of Beresford Hall, Charles Cotton's residence. In front of its entrance is the old bowling-green, and there for a moment or two those who are permitted to visit the spot may in imagination hear “Viator” and “Piscator” talking

“Viator: 'Tis a delicate morning, indeed; and I now think this is a marvellous pretty place”.

“Piscator: Whether you think so or no, you cannot oblige me more than to say so; and those of my friends who know my humour, and are so kind as to comply with it, usually flatter me that way. But look you, sir, now you are at the brink of the hill, how do you like my river, the vale it winds through like a snake, and the situation of my little Fishing House?”


“Viator: Trust me 'tis all very fine, and the house seems this distance a neat building”.

“Piscator: Good enough for that purpose; and here is a bowling-green, too, close by it; so, though I am myself no very good bowler, I am not totally devoted to my own pleasure, but that I have also some regard to other men's”.

Cotton's Cave was one of the hiding-places to which Charles was accustomed to flee when hard-pressed by duns. That it was well suited for the purpose is indicated by the fact that its mouth is so hidden by brushwood and vegetation that it is very difficult to find. Within is a flat dry shelf of rock whereon Cotton was wont to spread his pallet and where he lay perdu till the search for him had ceased and the thwarted bailiffs had left the neighbourhood.

Everyone knows Izaak Walton, the Prince of Anglers, but-

Charles Cotton

is a less familiar personage. He was born at Beresford Hall, which had been inherited by his mother. He received a fair education and made various contributions to literature. On the death of his father he entered into possession of an estate which had been impoverished by extravagance and lawsuits. To discharge his own and his father's debts he disposed of a part of the property, but, being naturally extravagant, fresh debts accrued and to avoid his creditors or their agents he again and again sought refuge in the caves of the neighbourhood. His second wife had a jointure of £1,500 a year, but even that did not free him from money troubles. Finally he was obliged to leave Beresford Hall, never to return. He is said to have died in a garret in London at the age of 57.

The Hall was purchased in 1825 by Field-Marshal Viscount Beresford, who bequeathed it to his kinsman, Mr. Beresford Hope. At the time of the testator's death, it had become ruinous, and was pulled down a few years later.

Beresford Dale, and the more secluded portions of the Dove valley, begin just below-


a picturesque village familiar by name to many because it gives the courtesy title of Marquis to the eldest sons of the Dukes of Devonshire. The position of the village with respect to some of the best Derbyshire scenery makes it a good centre for tourists, and for many walkers and cyclists


there is the added attraction that the Elizabethan Hartington Hall is now a Youth Hostel.

The Hall, in the higher part of the village, was built in 1611 by Hugh Bateman. It contains some fine carved oak and panelling, and is a very good example of a late sixteenth-century house.

The Church, dedicated to St. Giles and restored in 1858, contains good Early English and Decorated work. The building is cruciform, and has a square western tower of the fourteenth century, probably unequalled in Derbyshire. The three bells date from 1636, 1637 and 1697 respectively. Above the porch is a parvise, or priest's room, lighted by two windows which are much admired. The lines of the spiral staircase by which the room was entered may be traced in the north-west wall of the porch.

The best point from which to view the interior of the church is at the entrance to the most northerly pew. The old font is ornamented with window tracery which possibly represents certain of the original windows of the church.


The Manifold, so called, it is said, from the many folds or turns it makes, is an important tributary of the Dove. Like the main stream, it rises in the neighbourhood of Axe Edge. Its entire course is beautiful. Some who know both the Dove and the Manifold contend that parts of the Manifold Valley are superior in point of scenery to the more popular Dovedale. “It is more pastoral and less rugged”, as well as more expansive than the other dales that lie between Buxton and Ashbourne.

The beauties of the Manifold Valley are less easily accessible from Buxton since the closing of the Manifold Light Railway, but buses bring it sufficiently near to enable half-day excursions to be made without undue hurry. Motorists will find an attractive run outlined on pp. 23-4.

The best-known part of the valley is that immediately west of the village of Wetton, for here is Thor's Cave, a remarkable hollow in Wetton Low, a prominent eminence by the side of the Manifold. The floor of the cave is about 250 feet above the bed of the river. The opening, about 23 feet wide and 30 feet high, commands a fine view of the district.


in the cave have been found arrowheads, bone combs and pins, iron adzes, bronze armillae, spindle wheels, rings and other personal ornaments, which were placed in the Derby museum. Human remains have also been found. The relics indicate that the cave was occupied by Celts, Romans and Anglo-Saxons.

By reason of its regularity, the arch at the entrance, as seen from the road, might readily be mistaken for a misplaced piece of masonry. The cave is effectively lighted to a considerable depth by a second opening on the right, almost as lofty as the principal one, but much narrower. Almost opposite this is a massive column, supporting arches which extend farther inward. The effect of the light and of the size and proportion of the arches on returning to the entrance is very fine.

From this point an interesting if somewhat rural road (see pp. 23-4) goes north to Hulme End.

The principal feature of the valley, however, lies between Wetton Mill and Thor's Cave - the “swallows” through which, in dry weather, the river disappears for about 4 miles, to reappear in the grounds of Ilam Hall (p. 106). The “swallows” are quite close to the road as it crosses the river just beyond the abandoned “Station” of Redhurst.

Rather less than a mile below Wetton Tor is Beeston Tor, a huge mass of limestone rising 200 feet from the river. At the foot of the rock is St. Bertram's Cave. The aperture is so narrow that if the saint used the cave, he must have been extremely spare in build. Animal remains, pottery, rings, fibulas, etc., have been found in the cave.

By crossing the river bed at this point and following the footpath that goes up a steep ascent for about half a mile, a fine view is obtained. The prospect embraces the remains of Throwley Old Hall, a short distance away, on the opposite side of the hill. The history of the place begins with Oliver de Meverell, in the reign of King John, but the building, now in ruins, dates only from 1603. Even in its present condition it is easy to see that it once fully merited Erdeswick's description as “a fair ancient house and goodly demesne, being the seat of the Meverells, a very ancient house of gentlemen and of goodly living, equalling the best sort of gentlemen in the shire”.

The last of the Meverells was the wife of the fourth Baron


Cromwell, created, 1625, Viscount Lecale and Earl of Ardglass. The widow of the second earl became Charles Cotton's second wife.

When the water is plentiful, the Hamps unites with the river Manifold near Beeston Tor, but during dry weather the stream disappears through openings in the limestone rocks in its bed, a little higher up its course.

To this disappearance the village of Waterfall, some three-quarters of a mile from Sparrowlee station, owes its name.

The rivers reappear in the grounds of the Hall at-


a place which before the days of Bournville and Port Sunlight used to be regarded as a model village, i.e. the rude picturesqueness of thatched and whitewashed cottages gave place to well-built and trimly kept little Gothic tenements, which even now form an equally pleasing contrast to the square and hideous red-brick boxes of which so many of our Midland villages unfortunately consist. The Hall is Elizabethan in character, and was erected during the last century. It is now one of the most delightfully situated of the Derbyshire Youth Hostels. The road to the left, at the entrance gate, leads to the Church. South of the chancel is St. Bertram's Chapel, with the saint's tomb in a “cage”; here too, is a beautiful monument by Chantrey, representing the last moments of David Pike Watts.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in November 2013.

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