The steep gorge cut by the River Dove where Wolfscote Dale ends and Dove Dale begins is 400ft deep. This is the Peak District’s grand canyon with footpaths and Access Land on the rim giving access to spectacular views up and down the dale. Described here is a walk down a dale that is filled with flowers in May and June, then up to the rim to look down on Wolfscote Dale and the river Dove for some fantastic landscape photography.
This is an extract from a more comprehensive location chapter in the fotoVUE Photographing The Peak District photo-location guidebook.
How To Get Here
The approach starts from a lay-by on the A515 seven miles north of Ashbourne. The lay-by is just down from the Rivendale Caravan and Leisure Park next to a minor road (Liffs Road) to Biggin. Just down this road is a bridge and the Tissington trail.
It is best to park at Rivendale Lay-by (A515)
- Parking Lat/Long: 53.106396, -1.763346
- Nearest Parking Postcode: DE6 1QU
- Location OS map co-ordinate: SK159566
What to Shoot and Viewpoints
The viewpoints are described starting from the lay-by on the A515 next to Rivendale, with the alternative approach from Alstonfield described in the Peaseland Rocks viewpoint.
Viewpoint 1: Lees Farm
Walk down Liffs Road toward Biggin and under the old railway bridge for a beautiful composition of Lees Farm and its pines with Johnson’s Knoll, the wooded hill, in the background. By the bridge is a path up to the Tissington trail for an elevated viewpoint. Good at most times of the day, it is best early or late.
Viewpoint 2: Bradbury Bank
Continue down the road to Lees Farm and just before the farm is a footpath on your left that leads down a dale to Coldeaton Bridge in Wolfscote Dale. Follow this footpath by a wall to where there is a steep slope on your left, this initial slope has the most amazing display of yellow cowslip and a few orchids in May – best in the afternoon and evening when the slope is illuminated. Continue down the path to a gate and a National Trust sign, Bradbury Bank (0.6 miles from the lay-by) – the path splits here, continue straight down into Wolfscote Dale or up and left following track up the slope. In May and June there is one of the best displays of early purple orchids in the Peak here; thousands of them pop their heads up on the grass slope and around the rocks. If you enjoy photographing flowers in a beautiful dale, this is a place to linger. Take extreme care not to trample any flowers as you take close up and overview photographs of this wonderful floral spectacle. Timing is important as in May/June the sun will drop behind the hills around 6pm leaving the slope in shadow. Best is early to late afternoon, from around 1pm until 5pm.
Viewpoint 3: Nettly Knowe
If you follow the track that diagonals up the slope of Bradbury Bank then at the top arch right keeping this side of the wall you can follow the edge of the dale, by rocks, and eventually following a wall, all the way to an overlook down into Dove Dale. There are numerous viewpoints on this walk looking down into the dale of Bradbury Bank with the grand finale as you reach the edge of Wolfscote Dale looking down onto Coldeaton bridge. This is a magnificent viewpoint looking north to where Wolfscote Dale and Biggin Dale split, best both at sunrise in late summer/autumn and late afternoon most times. To return, retrace your steps but head right on a footpath that takes you by Nettly Knowe, a hard to see Bronze Age Barrow, to the Tissington Trail and back to the lay-by with plenty of opportunities for compositions across fields and walls to Johnson’s Knoll, the tree-covered hill in the distance. This is a a 2.2 mile round trip.
Whilst not far from the road and generally on good grass paths, some of these locations do involve sometimes walking up or down steep slopes and there are steep drop offs. Take care if it is wet as the limestone can be very slippy. A walking pole is recommended.
Best Time of Year/Day
Wolfscote Dale and Dove Dale run north to south illuminated by direct sunlight at midday and receiving side light at most other times. The topography is complex as the dale twists and turns with several side dales, including Biggin Dale, adding to the complexity. Generally late afternoon to sunset in the spring and summer is best, with midday in the winter offering low light that illuminates the rim of the gorge.
Late April and May is the best time for orchids, cowslips and mayflower. Autumn is a must. If it snows, although the going maybe tough, it is worth it. If you are an early bird, these locations are very special at sunrise especially on misty mornings.