Skip to Content

Milldale walk to Ilam Rock (pram-friendly, 4.5km)

Milldale walk to Ilam Rock (pram-friendly, 4.5km)

Dovedale is a very popular destination for walkers and most make a beeline for Dovedale Stepping Stones. But further up the valley lies the sleepy hamlet of Milldale where this classic Peak District river walk begins.

Following the the River Dove closely along the Dovedale Valley this linear routes leads you past the impressive caves at Dove Dale and onto Ilam Rock, a 25-metre tall limestone pinnacle. Kids will especially love exploring the huge caves at Dove Dale and it’s worth bringing a torch along for their adventures.

This Milldale to Ilam Rock walk has to be one of the prettiest pram-friendly Peak District walks. However, there are a few cobbly/rocky sections to navigate and some muscle is required. Most of the footpath is relatively even, but an all-terrain buggy is advised.

This is also a great walk in the wetter months when you want to avoid muddy footpaths.

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.

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.

© 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.

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. Parking for up to 2 hours is £2.50, up to 4 hours is £4, and all day is £4.75.

WALK HIGHLIGHTS: Scenic riverside path, exploring the caves at Dove Holes, 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, reasonably flat paths. There is the odd rocky section to navigate a pram, but it’s doable. 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: 58 metres

PUBLIC TOILETS: There are public toilets located towards 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.

The route

START: Milldale Car Park
Click here for Google Map point
Grid reference: SK 1361 5478
Post code: DE6 2GB
what3words: ///aboard.lawful.moped

This is a linear walk.

1. Turn left out of the car park, 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 (cash preferred). You may want to grab something for the walk or save it as a treat for when you return.

2. Turn right at the river and walk 50 metres past the public toilet building and over Viators Bridge, an old stone packhorse bridge crossing the River Dove. The buggy may require a little muscle to get over the cobblestones here.

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 few wooden gates.

4. After 1.3km, you’ll reach the caves at Dove Holes (you can’t miss them). 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. The first section from the caves requires a bit of muscle with a buggy, but once you’re past this short uphill section, it’s easy going. Before long you’ll arrive at the impressive Ilam Rock, a limestone pinnacle formed from millions of years of erosion.

6. To finish this Milldale to Ilam Rock walk, retrace your footsteps back to Milldale Car Park.

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 please note that the footpath can be tricky in places and there are steps, and so we do not recommend continuing with a pushchair/buggy.

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!

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:
The best pram friendly walks in the Peak District
Pram friendly Ilam Park walk (circular, 1.6km)
Dovedale circular walk (5.3km)