The magnificent limestone scenery of Dovedale (owned by the National Trust) is just five miles away from Ashbourne. The main Dovedale car park (charges apply) has toilets and refreshment kiosk.
The short walk from the car park to the famous Dovedale stepping stones is fully accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs and worth doing in its own right even if you can't get further.
The stepping stones will get flooded after heavy rain so if you want to be sure of getting to Dovedale, cross the river by the car park and walk up the other side - its a rough path and you will need suitable footwear.
If you have the time & energy the best way to experience Dovedale is to walk along the river to Milldale where there is a kiosk & toilets. There & back will take you half a day from the main car park. Its mostly flat apart from one short steep section over "lovers leap".
From Dovedale it is an easy walk across fields to Ilam Hall. The more adventurous will want to tackle the climb up Thorpe Cloud but be aware that it is very slippery and it is much more difficult to get down than up. A large part of local Mountain Rescue call outs relate to injuries on Thorpe Cloud.
By car from Ashbourne
Drive north out of Ashbourne on the Buxton Road, turn left for Thorpe (opposite Sandybrook holiday park) and follow the road all the way to the main Dovedale car park. Or alternatively drive via Blore and Ilam which gives you the best views towards Thorpe Cloud.
On sunny weekends and bank holidays the road between Thorpe and Ilam often gets gridlocked. An alternative if you are fit enough and have appropriate footwear is to use Narlows Lane car park in Thorpe opposite The Old Dog pub – from there it is around half an hour’s walk to the stepping stones via Thorpe Pastures and Linn Dale - follow the footpath that leaves the road next to the Peveril of the Peak, when you reach the field turn left and walk around the hill until you see Thorpe Cloud, then go down the valley to the right (it can get quite muddy).
On very busy days one of the local farmers opens a field for parking, on the way down the hill from Thorpe - its about half an hour's walk from here to the stepping stones and the route is obvious. If you are coming from Blore direction then you can park in the National Trust car park at Ilam Hall (free for NT members) and walk to Dovedale over the fields - again about half an hour and the way is obvious.
By bus from Ashbourne
There is no bus service.
By bike or on foot
By bike, follow the Tissington trail to Thorpe station and then continue by road - its not a long ride but is quite strenuous. You can't cycle through Dovedale but you can get close enough to look at it.
On foot the stepping stones are a 10 mile round trip from Ashbourne so only for the super-keen.