The Hamps and Manifold Valleys


A long walk that starts at Ilam Hall and heads to the Hamps Valley, which it follows northwards as far as the magnificent Thors Cave. The route then heads back towards Ilam along higher ground by the Manifold Valley

Route Information

Ascent: 455m

Length: 13.06 miles

Start: Ilam

Area: Peak District – Hamps and Manifold Valleys

GPX File: Download

Wetton Low – (Height: 328m, Drop: 30m)

Other POI: Ilam Hall, River Manifold, Rushley Wood, Musden Wood, River Hamps, Manifold Way, Old Sole’s Wood, Beeston Tor, Ladyside Wood, Wetton, Castern Farm

Route Description:

Like the last walk I wrote about on here, this one also starts at Ilam Hall car park. The country had a lot of rainfall a few days previous, and so I was particularly looking for a route that had decent paths and would mainly be dry. This one seemed to fit the bill. The route starts off by dropping down to the River Manifold from Ilam Hall, and then initially follows the Manifold Way long distance footpath until just beyond Rushley Bridge. The Manifold Way then veers off to the right, loosly following the path of the river. I took the next right turning after this, which was a small and – at the time – flooded footpath leading into woodland.

River Manifold from Ilam Hall
River Manifold from Ilam Hall
Bridge crossing the River Manifold
A bridge crossing the Manifold

The footpath headed down a wooded valley that seperates Rushley Wood and Musden Wood. The ground was extremely muddy, however this was a small price to pay for the feeling of tranquility that the woodland gave me. I didn’t pass another soul for this little leg of the journey. The path emerges onto pasture land where naturally I was on the lookout for cows – one of my irrational fears! Luckily the fields were empty and I soon arrived at the small farming hamlet of Calton.

The path between Musden and Rushley Woods
The path between Musden and Rushley Woods
Leaving the woods behind
Leaving the woods behind

From Calton, the walk continued over the tops towards Hamps Valley. Again, I seemed to be having a lot of luck avoiding the cows! To my left were views of Milk Hill and Lafarge Tarmacs Cauldon plant. It wasn’t long before I reached the path that headed down into the valley.

Heading over the tops from Calton
Heading over the tops from Calton
Heading down into Hamps Valley
Heading down into Hamps Valley

The section of path that makes up the next leg of the walk is part of the Hamps Way long distance footpath aswell as the Manifold Way. I wasn’t entirely keen on the path as it looked a little too nice and accessible – smooth and tarmacked, giving it the appearance of a narrow road rather than a path. Saying that, it would make a nice stretch for a family with a buggy to go for a country stroll. The path continues for quite a way, past Soles Hill and Old Soles Wood on the right, past Beeston Tor which eventually appears high on the right and marks the point where the River Hamps meets the River Manifold, straight across Larkstone Lane, and eventually across a bridge that crosses the River Manifold to a Thors Cave information board.

The Hamps Way / Manifold Way
The Hamps Way / Manifold Way
Beeston Tor
Looking up at Beeston Tor
Thors Cave information board
Thors Cave information board

The walk up to Thors Cave was short but steep via a series of steps. The cave itself is fantastic, full of wonderful features and textures. Care needed to be taken walking around inside though as the rock was about as polished as its possible for rock to be. I was slipping on it like I was walking on ice. The cave was used as a location in the 1988 horror movie ‘The Lair of the White Worm’ – interesting to a horror movie buff like myself.

Steps to Thor's Cave
Steps to Thor’s Cave
Entrance to Thor's Cave
Entrance to Thor’s Cave
View of Manifold Valley from Thor's Cave
Manifold Valley from Thor’s Cave
Inside Thor's Cave
Inside Thor’s Cave
Looking out from inside Thor's Cave
Looking out from inside

After exiting the cave, a footpath led over pasture to Wetton village. From here the route headed south over more farmland, giving me a chance to make my one and only summit of the day – Wetton Low. From Wetton Low, the path continued in southwards direction, straight over Larkstone Lane, and onto a path running along the top edge of Manifold Valley. The path made a great viewpoint looking over and into the valley itself, but shortlived as it soon veered off across various fields where my luck at avoiding cows finally ended. I made several diversions from the route in an attempt to avoid them, which ended up making the walk a little longer than it should have been. I eventually arrived at the farmyards of Castern Farm, which marked the end of my wanderings across cow fields, and the beginning of the last leg of the walk. The track from the farm led back down to the section of the Manifold Way that I used at the start of the walk, which in turn took me back to Ilam Hall and the car.

Crossing fields
Crossing fields
Wetton Low trig
Wetton Low trig

Walk completed on 24th November, 2016

Map and Elevation Data:

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Interactive Map
Elevation Profile for the Dovedale walk
Elevation Profile

Useful Links

GPX file for the walk
Photo album at Google Photos
Photo album at Flickr
River Manifold – Wikipedia page
Thor’s Cave – Wikipedia page
Manifold Way – Wikipedia page

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