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Pictures of Dovedale

a Nature Reserve in the town of Ilam, in the county of Derbyshire

About Dovedale

The River Dove flows through one of England's loveliest valleys. Though little more than a mile long, Dove Dale shows a variety of scenery ranging from grassy river banks to dense wooded slopes and limestone cliffs. Highly picturesque, this part of the valley of the Dove can be found just to the north of Thorpe. The course of the river is exceptional, made all the more so, by the fact that nearly all of it, from its source amongst gritstone and shale, at Axe-Edge, to where it joins the Trent at Burton, can be followed by footpath.

There are so many blessed spots along the valley that it is difficult to know just where to begin. One thing to make clear though, is that there are no riverside roads. You can drive down to the river but not along-side, and perhaps this fact adds to its tranquillity and perfection. An early introduction to the Dove, would be to tell you that this is where Izaak Walton learned the art of fly-fishing from his friend Charles Cotton. Cotton, lived at Beresford Hall, just beneath Hartington were the valley is known as Beresford Dale. It was Charles Cotton who wrote 'The Complete Angler' to which he added a section on fly-fishing.

The part of the valley leading to Beresford Dale starts at pretty Crowdencote, near Longnor and continues along a footpath through rolling hills at the point of Pilsbury Castle. Once past Beresford Dale, the river gurgles its way to Wolfscote Hill, where as if to take a break, the stream's flow slows down, whilst it tumbles through little weirs used by trout and grayling as resting places.

Downstream is Milldale, site of an old packhorse bridge. The bridge is quaint, one can imagine it crossed by the horse and rider of yester-year. Fortunately, its narrowness prevents its use by the vehicles of today. Below Milldale, are the limestone cliffs beneath which lie caves called Dove Holes and it is here that romantic Dove Dale really begins. Limestone crags and pinnacles burst from both sides of a deep gorge covered with ash and alders. This really is a feast for your eye's, few views can compare with the sight of the river as it gurgles between Ilam Rock and the grandeur of Pickering Tor. The river splashes its way past any number of limestone pillars, crags and outcrops, all with fanciful names such as; The Twelve Apostles, Lovers Leap, Jacob's Ladder and Tissington Spires - Lovers Leap is said to have been named after a damsel in distress was saved from the river in the 18th-century - she survived, her lover sadly died.

The river curves round Dovedale Castle continuing towards its journeys end, when together with the Trent it will be swallowed up by the daunting icy waters of the North Sea.

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