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The 158 acres of Ilam Park is managed by the National Trust and lies on the banks of the River Manifold, surrounded by beautiful countryside. It is very popular with visitors who particularly enjoy Paradise Walk, which was originally planted as a pleasure ground for the hall. There is a National Trust shop, information centre and tearoom and entrance to the grounds is free to walkers.


After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, John Port acquired the estate and built a house on the site of the present Ilam Hall. In 1809, David Pike Watts became the owner and on his death, it passed to his daughter. Her husband, Jesse Watts-Russell a wealthy industrialist, had a rather grand hall built. It had battlemented towers, ornamental chimneys and a flag tower. The architect, who designed the hall, was also engaged in the building of Alton Towers and there were some similarities between the two.




Following Watts-Russell’s death, the hall was in the hands of the Hanbury family for a time, before being tried unsuccessfully as a restaurant, then sold, and partly demolished. In 1934, Sir Robert MacDougal was persuaded to buy it for the nation and give it to the Youth Hostels Association ‘for the perpetual use of the youth of the world’.


As the YHA did not have a trust body, it gave the building to the National Trust. What remains today are the old entrance hall, armoury and servants’ quarters, which have been converted into a Youth Hostel. The recently re-furbished shop, visitor centre and the tearooms are open to the general public. At the visitor centre there is a new computer based touch-screen display about the geology in the area. The story of the formation of the White Peak landscape is told in the words of Dr Jackson, who is a noted authority on the geology of the Peak.



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Ilam Park Visitor Centre (Tel. 01335 350503) is owned by the National Trust. There is a refurbished shop, information centre and tearoom and entrance to the grounds is free to walkers. A car park is provided. The shop and tearoom are normally open from 11am - 4pm at weekends and on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays during the spring and summer. Please telephone for precise details.




Provides a wide range of features  with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.


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Alpine-style cottages, a Tudor Gothic Hall, an eccentric river and a wonderful background of soft green hills make Ilam a very popular place with visitors.


 Ilam Feature


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