A discerning pub crawl through the Dove Valley

Wolfscote Dale, Peak District National Park
The delightful Wolfscote Dale.

It’s been a while since I’ve been out backpacking with my best mate and partner in crime, Eion. Too long in fact. Some time ago we decided on a short trip away to the Peak District. More of a ‘busman’s holiday’ for me to be honest but a relaxing break nonetheless.

There was a route we had in mind of which I’ve walked several times and always gone about to Eion. A linear route in the White Peak with several pubs en route to enjoy too.

I needed the break as well. Take stock of things with work and discuss opportunities that have arisen for me in the coming months and gauge Eion’s opinion from – always the trusted friend.

So, instead of me waffling on I thought it be nice for him to write this blogpost and share his story of a few days taking in the delights of Peaklands limestone dales…..

Thorpe Cloud, Dovedale
Thorpe Cloud overlooking the stepping stones in Dovedale

The long and winding Dove Valley in the Peak District National Park is a rare jem and one I never had the pleasure of experiencing before now and so I’ve been looking forward to this trip for ages. The last time I’d been out hiking and camping was back in August 2011 and I’ve been getting cabin fever lately so a trip out with my mate Terry was well overdue.

From home we got a train to the city of Derby where from we bused it to the village of Thorpe where we planned to hike and wild camp along the Dove Valley for a few days ending at the River Dove’s source on the high windswept moor of Axe Edge.

The weather was glorious on arrival and we enjoyed a pleasant walk in Dovedale. Tall statuesque limestone lined the route and a number of caves dotted the sides of the valley. We soon arrived in Milldale where we decided to head towards the village of Alstonefield and the delights of The George public house to sample one of their superb ales. This quintessential English pub overlooking a delightful village green surrounded by picture postcard cottages wasn’t far from where we planned to camp for the night either. Handy!

Mallard duck, Milldale
Handsome Mallard in Milldale.

The George at Alstonefield
The cosy and traditional George pub at Alstonefield.

The ‘Sunbeam’ ale from Marstons Brewery was in such good nick that we ended up having four pints in there before merrily marching off towards Wolfscote Dale to make a stealthy camp for the night. We found a lovely spot overlooking the valley and pitched pretty quickly. For this trip I decided to take along my Mountain Hardwear Sprite using just a flysheet, poles and groundsheet – a posh tarp if you like. Terry chose to bring along Rab’s new Ridge Master Bivi.

I had decanted a bottle of Port into a Platypus to bring along as warming nightcap for the trip but such was the warm and sunny weather and scenery we decided to lounge on the grass and enjoy a drop or two. Well, the “drop or two” turned into cup fulls and before you know it we’d drank the whole bottle! That was it. No cooking for us tonight and so we headed back to The George a mile or so away.

Slightly worse for wear and supping on a couple of ales in front of the log fire we enjoyed a hearty meal of sausage and mash – all locally sourced and cooked fresh on the premises. It was wonderful.

I can tell you I slept like a baby that night even though it chucked it down and blew a gale. By nine the next morning the sun had returned and we packed up ready to continue our hike. 

Rab Ridge Master Bivi
Terry in his eVent coffin!
Eion’s shelter – Mountain Hardwear Sprite 1 fly and groundsheet.
Wolfscote Dale
Lovely weather, lovely dale.
Wolfscote Dale towards Hartington
Eion strolls along enjoying the fine limestone scenery.
Dipper by River Dove
Dipper by the River Dove.

We planned to carry on up the valley and head to Hartington for a swift pint then pass through Crowedecote on our way to Chrome Hill and camp near there. The sun and cloud took turns at following us and Hartington was a welcome sight for a weary walker, even more welcome was The Devonshire Arms pub. Great ale and a roaring fire greeted us and it won’t come as any surprise to say we ended up staying in there for a few pints as we got chatting to the really friendly locals who had all just just popped in for lunch.

The weather was starting to turn at this point and the brief spells of sun were broken up by some quite heavy bursts of rain which made the journey to Chrome Hill a little depressing but we passed some interesting sights like the Pilsbury Castle Hill Fort. Walking through Crowedecote I was hoping the Pack Horse Inn would be open but it shuts on Mondays and Tuesdays unfortunately. Probably a good thing as we’d have likely ended up camping on the roadside!

Old mine in the Dove Valley
Eion takes a peep inside an old mine in the Upper Dove Valley.
Chrome Hill from the Upper Dove Valley
Chrome Hill soon comes into view as you head up the Upper Dove Valley.
Pilsbury Castle
Remains/fortifications of Pilsbury Castle.
Karrimor Elite Alpiniste eVent jacket
Eion models a recent purchase – Karrimor’s Elite Alpiniste eVent jacket
Parkhouse Hill from Chrome Hill, Peak District National Park.
Eion takes a breather on the flanks of Chrome Hill.

Chrome Hill is a very distinctive place with its prominent pointy peak and the adjoining Parkhouse – from afar it looks like a giant has took a bite out of the landscape! Once closer and the realisation of how steep a climb you’ve got, in the rain, makes for a feeling of ‘can I be arsed with this?’ but persevere and you do get some amazing views from its summit. A particular highlight is the view down on Parkhouse Hill with it’s dragonesque physique. Pity then that when we arrived a storm decided to hit! 

45 mile an hour gusts, buckets of rain and even sleet and hail! Luckily we got pitched just in time – half 7 at night – and that was the last I saw of Terry until the next morning as we became prisoners in our shelters.  Wind and rain howled round us and I’m sat in my tent thinking “why do we do this?” And “where’s the fun in this?!”  with only the odd text to each other for company along with the sound of Mother Nature before phone batteries died.

At least I had a bit of room to cook and move about, Terry was stuck in a bivvy! By 10 o clock the next morning we’d decided to pack up and head down to the Pack Horse Inn at Crowedecote, have a few beers then catch the bus back to Ashbourne and head home early as the forecast was miserable for the next few days. It was already blowing a hoolie and raining cats and dogs and wasn’t letting up. Shame really as the first couple of days were brilliant. It was only later that I learnt Terry had somehow managed to pack every bit of his gear (except his self-inflating mattress) into his rucksack from within the confines of his eVent coffin! Unbelievable.

Anyway I guess Terrys sungod status has been temporarily revoked….


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