The valley of the Dove, together with that of its neighbour, the Manifold, forms part of the Peak District Nafional Park. Considerable portions of the area have come either by private gift, public subscription or covenants into the hands of the Nafional Trust. The generosity of Sir Robert and Lady McDougall, Mr. E H. Kerfoot, Mr. F. A Holmes, and of Imperial Chemical Industries, are especially to be remembered.
In Dovedale the river Dove runs through a narrow limestone gorge where steep tree-covered walls rise high above the stream. In places the action of watcr has worn away the rock into curious formations litc the Lion's Head and the natural archway in front of Reynard's Cave. There are fine views from the heights, such as Thorpe Cloud and Bunster, which overlook the valley.
A dozen fascinafing and beaufiful villages are included in the area. All can be reached by car, but to discover the best of the dales or the hilltops one must of necessity walk. The villages have their old halls, Tudor houses and interesfing customs. Traces of Roman encampments and roads are to be found, together with the stone monuments and the burial mounds and chambers of early man.
The gorge of Dovedale proper stretches for only two miles above Thorpe. However, the next six miles upstream, through Milldale, Wollscote Dale and Beresford Dale to Hartington, will also amply reward with their beauty the efforts of the walker. So, too, will the eight miles of the Manifold Valley between llam and Hulme End. The Manifold has a remarkable feature: between Wetton Mill and llam Hall it disappears underground, leaving its upper bed quite dry except in very wet seasons. The sceptical Dr. Johnson had to be convinced of the report by an experiment with corks that it really was the same river which emerged!
Dovedale has numerous literary associations. Dr. Johnson, Byron, Tennyson and Ruskin all praised its scenery with enthusiasm. Its closest and most productive association was with Izaak Walton and Charles Conon, authors of that genial seventeenth century classic, The Compleat Angler. Beresford Hall, which overlooked the Dove in Beresford Dale, was Cotton's birthplace and home, and Walton often visited him there. The hall is now in ruins, but the Fishing Temple which the friends used is still to be seen. The reputation of the Dove as an angler's river, and particularly as a river for trout fishing, has lasted from their day to ours. Most of the well-known hotels of the neighbourhood have angling facilities available for guests. Whether one's particular favour lies in the gentle art of fly-fishing, or merely absorbing magnificent scenic beauty without any other objectives, the attractions of Dovedale are irresistible.
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