Peak District Kids writer: Gemma from Families Can Travel
Dovedale Stepping Stones are a popular destination for walkers, but further up the valley lies the sleepy hamlet of Milldale. This linear Milldale walk starts from the peaceful and pretty Milldale and follows the River Dove closely along the Dovedale Valley.
This has to be one of the prettiest pram-friendly Peak District walks. The kids will love climbing inside the impressive caves at Dove Holes before reaching the Ilam Rock, a 25-metre tall limestone pinnacle. From here you can return to Milldale the way you came and relax by the river with a drink from Polly’s Cottage Takeaway Refreshment.
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If you are planning a 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.
During the winter months, it’s important to be extra prepared and safe when out walking and adventuring in the Peak District. The weather can change so quickly, especially on the exposed escarpments, and we don’t want you to get caught out.
Read our top tips for safe winter walking with the kids.
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 provided for every walk, or what3words.
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.
Download and print out our walking guides ready for your family walk. There are over 80 downloadable walk guides available, and these include all the main Peak District family walks, pram-friendly walks, and toddler walks.
Each printable download is just £1.50, whether it’s a short 1km stroll or an epic walk up Kinder Scout.
Milldale 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 Peak District: White Peak Area Map | Weatherproof | Peak…||£14.75||Buy on Amazon|
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.
Please note that your download link expires 72 hours from order, so make sure you save your PDF somewhere where you’ll remember it. If you are unsure where your download folder is on your mobile device, we recommend you download the PDF on your laptop or desktop.
Need to know
DISTANCE OF WALK: 4.5 km (2.25 km each way) | 2.8 miles (1.4 mile each way)
TYPE OF WALK: flat, well-surfaced paths, pram friendly
PARKING: There is a free Peak District National Park car park in Milldale. Click here for Google Maps location, postcode: DE6 2GB.
WALK HIGHLIGHTS: Scenic riverside path, climbing inside the caves at Dove Holes, the impressive Ilam Rock.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE: This walk can be done in 1.5 hours, but taking it at a nice leisurely pace whilst the kids play by the river and in the caves, we recommend allowing 2-3 hours.
ACCESSIBILTY: Pram friendly, flat, well-surfaced paths. The caves are not suitable for prams but they are right next to the path so the kids can easily explore whilst still in view.
TOTAL ASCENT: 11 metres
PUBLIC TOILETS: There are public toilets located at the start of the walk, just before the Viator Bridge. You can get takeaway refreshments and snacks from Polly’s Cottage Takeaway Refreshment in Milldale.
START: Milldale Car Park
Click here for Google Map point
Grid reference: SK 1361 5478
Post code: DE6 2GB
This is a linear walk.
1. Turn left out of the carpark, continuing along the road for 300 metres through the hamlet of Milldale. You might meet some friendly ducks as you get closer to the river. Just before you reach the river, you’ll notice a turning on your left and Polly’s House on the corner where you can get takeaway drinks and snacks. You may want to grab something for the walk or save it as a treat for when you return.
2. Turn right and walk 50 metres past the public toilet building on your right and over Viators Bridge, an old stone packhorse bridge crossing the River Dove.
3. Walk through the gate at the other side of the bridge and follow the path to the right, signposted to Dovedale Car Park. Follow this scenic path alongside the river and through a couple of wooden gates.
4. After 1.3km, you’ll reach the caves at Dove Holes. You might want to spend some time here for the kids to explore the caves.
5. After exploring the caves, continue along the path keeping the river close for a further 600 metres. Before long you’ll see the impressive Ilam Rock, a limestone pinnacle formed from millions of years of erosion.
6. To finish this walk, from the bridge at Ilam Rock simply return to Milldale along the path you came on.
EXTENDED ROUTE: For a longer walk, continue along the path for a further 2.25 km to Dovedale Stepping Stones. This will extend the walk to a total of 9 km there and back. Though do note that the footpath can be tricky in places with steps, and so not entirely pram friendly.
After your walk
When you get back to Milldale why not treat yourself to a takeaway drink and snack from Polly’s Cottage Takeaway Refreshment? There’s a perfectly located bench right next to the river to sit and watch the kids play.
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!
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
Also, come and join our friendly Peak District Kids Facebook Group for any questions or to share photos of your walks.