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Dovedale Circular walk from Thorpe (5.3km)

Dovedale Circular walk from Thorpe (5.3km)

Unsurprisingly, due to it’s stunning beauty and iconic stepping stones across the River Dove, Dovedale is one of the most popular hotspots in the Peak District National Park, and Dovedale car park is often exceptionally busy. However, this Dovedale circular walk starts from the much quieter village of Thorpe, and leads you around Thorpe Cloud, across Dovedale Stepping Stones. It’s easily one of our top 10 Peak District walks with kids.

This is a much quieter route. But to avoid crowds at Dovedale Stepping Stones, plan to start this Dovedale circular walk either early or late in the day, especially on sunny weekends. We very much recommend timing the end of your walk with lunch at the Old

This route also includes an optional detour up Thorpe Cloud from Dovedale Stepping Stones. This is a steep 20 minute climb (1.4km detour up and down) with superb views. Or perhaps just leave that to another day; it’s up to you.

Did you know that there are other Peak District stepping stone walks? You may also want to try out Chee Dale Stepping Stones and Hathersage Stepping Stones. Or perhaps check out our Peak District river walks.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click to purchase, it is at no additional cost to you, but I receive a small commission.

When planning your visit to the National Park, please arrive early or late in the day to avoid crowds if visiting over sunny weekends or school holidays. Please also take all litter home with you, don’t bring BBQs, and park your car in designated parking areas. Also, please use these walks as a guide; access and stiles may change.


PARKING INFORMATION: Please do not rely solely on the postcode for parking directions. In the National Park, a postcode can cover a large area. Postcodes are only provided as guidance. Please either use the Google Maps point or what3words, which are provided on every walk guide.

Do check out our top tips for hiking with young kids, as well as our essential items to take on a family hike in the Peak District.

Dovedale circular walk map

On all Peak District family walks it’s a good idea to have an Ordnance Survey paper map with you, even if you have your phone on you. For this walk you need the OS Explorer Active Map OL 24 (White Peak). It’s also a good opportunity to show young kids the map features and get them started with map reading.

The route directions below follow this map in an anti-clockwise direction.

Dovedale circular walk map
© Crown copyright 2024 OS AC0000861980

Get a printable download of this walk

Want to print off this walk guide rather than rely on your mobile? Then click here to download the PDF to print out at home. Perhaps print out a copy for the kids to follow the step-by-step directions and/or photos? It’s a great way to get them engaged with the walk and gives them a sense of responsibility.

All printable downloads are £1.50 each. Click here for the full list of Peak District Kids printable downloads.

Need to know

DISTANCE OF WALK: 5.3km / 3.3 miles (add on 1.4 km if you take the detour up Thorpe Cloud)

TYPE OF WALK: circular river walk with stepping stones.

PARKING: FREE parking at Narlows Lane Car Park. Click here for Google Map point, postcode is DE6 2AT.

WALK HIGHLIGHTS: Dovedale Stepping Stones, Thorpe Cloud, paddling in the River Dove.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE:  Without kids, this is a 2 hour walk, but with young kids it is closer to 3 hours (longer if it’s a sunny day and you want to picnic by the river and maybe have a paddle).

ACCESSIBILTY: This Dovedale circular walk is not pram friendly or wheelchair friendly (although the short section between Dovedale car park and Dovedale Stepping Stones is). The path down to Dovedale Stepping Stones is a steady descent, and there’s also a short steep section uphill towards the end of the walk.

TOTAL ASCENT: 147 metres (it’s an additional 138 metres if you climb the detour up Thorpe Cloud)

FACILITIES: There are public toilets (20p coins) and a little ice-cream hut (card only) at the main Dovedale car park. There is also The Old Dog at the start/end of this walk, which is worthwhile timing with a lunch stop.

Thorpe Station car park
Narlows Lane Car Park

The route

START: Narlows Lane Car Park
Click here for Google Map point
Grid reference: SK 1636 5046
Post code: DE6 2AT
what3words: ///cookies.purified.surpasses

Route follows an anticlockwise direction.

1. Exit right out of Narlow Lane Car Park and walk towards the The Old Dog pub. Cross the road, and continue straight ahead with the pub on your left.

Dovedale circular walk

2. Continue for 400m down the road, along the pavement, past the sign for Thorpe. At the bend in the road, take the footpath on the right next to The Peveril of the Peak sign.

3. Follow this footpath for 100m through a wooden gate, to a stone stile.

4. Take a left, following the public footpath to Dovedale. The angular summit of Thorpe Cloud will soon come in to view. Follow the footpath to the right of Thorpe Cloud, keeping the ‘Danger – When Red Flags are flying’ signs as the rough route of the footpath (the footpath isn’t entirely obvious, but keep aiming for the right hand side of Thorpe Cloud).

5. Follow the footpath in the valley, with the drystone wall separating you and Thorpe Cloud on your left. The fencing prohibits you crossing over to take the footpath up to Thorpe Cloud. Continue the footpath down to Dovedale Stepping Stones.

Once you arrive at Dovedale Stepping Stones, you can take the footpath up to the summit of Thorpe Cloud should you wish. It’s a 20 minute steep ascent (1.4 km extra there and back) and the views are well worth the effort. You can follow this Thorpe Cloud walk from step 3.

The view from the summit of Thorpe Cloud below, should you wish to take the detour:

Thorpe Cloud walk

6. Cross over Dovedale Stepping Stones. You may have to wait your turn on a busy day. When there has been very heavy rain, the stepping stones are sometimes submerged. If you are unable to cross (or you’ve caught them at a busy time and don’t want to wait), you can follow the footpath to the left of the River Dove (with the river on your right).

Dovedale circular walk

7. Once you’ve crossed over the Dovedale Stepping Stones, take a left and continue the flat and even footpath for 500m to a wooden bridge on your left.

8. Cross over the footbridge and take the footpath immediately on your right, climbing over a wooden stile. Then follow the footpath across the fields, keeping close to the River Dove on your right.

9. This footpath leads out on to the road, to the left of St. Mary’s Bridge. Turn left and walk along the road for 100m. Just after the small group of buildings, there is a footpath on the right.

10. There are two footpaths here. Take the one on the right that leads right up the hill to this gate (see photo below). This section is a bit steep.

Dovedale circular walk

11. Once you’re through the gate, continue straight ahead, a bit more uphill. The footpath then levels off as you approach the farm buildings. The footpath then leads you out to a lane, through a metal gate, to the left of the farm building. Continue on the footpath straight ahead.

12. This leads you out onto a road, and you’re back in the village of Thorpe. Continue straight ahead along the road to St Leonard’s Church, which was founded in Norman times.

Dovedale circular walk

13. Take the footpath to the left of the church, continue around the back of the church to the right, and then you will see a footpath baring a sharp left. Take this sharp left through the woods, eventually leading you back out onto another road.

14. Once you reach the road, take a left to the T-junction and then a right. Follow this road back to the car park. You will soon be retracing your steps from the beginning of this Dovedale circular walk.

After your Dovedale walk

It’s worthwhile timing the end of your walk with lunch at The Old Dog, which is just across the road from the car park where this walk starts / ends. There is also ample parking at the pub.

This is actually one of favourite Peak District pubs; the food is great (including vegan options), the service excellent, and we love the cosy vibe. The roaring log fires are very much appreciated on a cold, winter’s day. The array of local ales on tap is also very impressive.

Peak District Kids is a free online resource. If you have found this website useful for planning your family adventures, you can show your support by buying me a coffee. Thanks so much!

Also, feel free to share your walk photos in our Peak District Kids Facebook Group or on Instagram using the #peakdistrictkids hashtag so we can share with our wider community.

Or perhaps purchase a Peak District Kids iron-on patch. £1 from every sale of the iron-on patches goes towards the Peak District National Park Foundation, a registered charity established to raise funds to care for the Peak District National Park.

Want more ideas for family walks?
Best Family Walks in the Peak District
Pram Friendly Peak District walks
Toddler walks in the Peak District

Or, use the search walks page to find your perfect family walk.

Also, come and join our friendly Peak District Kids Facebook Group for any questions or to share photos of your walks.

You may also like to read:
Ilam Park walk (pram friendly, 1.6km)
Stepping Stone walks in the Peak District
Thorpe Cloud walk (2.5km)