The pretty village of Thorpe is little noticed by many of the thousands of visitors who pass through on their way to explore the beautiful valleys of the Dove and Manifold, which lie just beyond. Many more walkers and cyclists also pass it by on the Tissington Trail, a short distance to the east of the village, but Thorpe unlike Tissington, does not attract large numbers of admirers. Even the walkers, who pass through the centre of the village, anxious to reach the next beauty spot on their itineraries, rarely seem to slacken pace to fully comprehend what the village has to offer.
It was the arrival of LNERíS Ashbourne to Buxton line that really started the tourist boom. Many were the thousands who got off the train at Alsop-en-le-Dale Station and walked the length of Dovedale before catching a train home at Thorpe Station. The railway is no more, but cars still bring thousands of visitors to what is one of Englandís most famous beauty spots. Enticed no doubt by the beautiful pictures they have seen of Dovedale, in guidebooks, in the press and on television. More photographs of the stepping stones across the River Dove must have appeared on calendars and chocolate boxes than almost any other countryside scene in England.
As more visitors arrived, so the demand for accommodation grew. The Dog and Partridge, that at one time stood at the junction of two turnpikes, offered limited space. Also the Dovedale Inn, a 19th century coaching inn, provided lodging, refreshments and a change of horses to coaches. It is now run as a private family run guest house. There are now two large popular hotels offering accommodation, the Peveril of the Peak, who hosted the German national football team for the 1966 World Cup and the Izaak Walton, on the Staffordshire side of the River Dove. In addition there are a number of guest houses and bed and breakfast establishments that provide for those wanting overnight stays.
Approaching the River Dove from Thorpe, the distinctive cone like hill, known as Thorpe Cloud, guards the entrance to Dovedale. The summit is a short stiff climb from Thorpe village or along the path from The Peveril of the Peak Hotel, both somewhat easier than the longer climb up from the River Dove. Whatever route you choose, the panoramic views from the top are well worth the effort.
Coldwall Bridge crosses the River Dove only a short distance from Thorpe. This long, wide grass covered bridge arouses quite a lot of curiosity amongst visitors, until maybe they notice the milestone ĎCheadle 11 milesí that dates back to the days when the coach-road ran between Ashbourne and Cheadle. Built in1726, the bridge fell into disuse at the start of the motoring age, the gradients proving too steep for the cars of that era.
St Leonardís Church has a stocky little Norman tower and a tub font, one of only three in Derbyshire, a fine Elizabethan altar rail and a tomb to John Milward who died in 1632. The marks made by arrows being sharpened remain on the outside of the south porch. After the Black Death the number of available archers needed to protect king and country had been seriously reduced. Edward III, finding archery was being neglected, ordered men to stop playing football and other games to practice archery instead. The people kept their arrows at home, but living in wooden houses had no means of sharpening them and found the stone porch at the church the most convenient place. Shooting at butts took place after the Sunday service, usually at the bottom of the churchyard.
The sundial in the churchyard appears to be exceptionally high and cannot be properly viewed on foot; this seems unusual until it is realised that it was put there for the benefit of horse-riders. It was made by the distinguished craftsman, John Whitehurst of Derby, so it is inconceivable that such elementary error was made in the design. The clock in the church tower was made by Whitehurstís business successors, John Smith and Sons. Next to the churchyard stands the Old Rectory.
The school closed a number of years ago and has been converted into the village hall. On the Green stands a fine Wellingtonia tree, planted in the middle of the 19th century by Sir William FitzHerbert of Tissington, in celebration of his purchase of the estate. A more recent tree planting exercise took place to mark the Millennium and children born in the village that year. The Manor House stands on Digmire Lane, near the end of which is the village pump. The name of the farm a short distance from St Maryís Bridge reminds us of the corn mill that once stood by the Dove of which nothing now remains.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE AREA
Ilam Village with its alpine style cottages and close proximity to Dovedale makes it a very popular attraction. The National Trust grounds and country park of Ilam Hall are open to the public.
Ashbourne is one of Derbyshireís finest towns, with a wealth of Georgian architecture. The triangular cobbled Market Place holds markets twice per week on Thursday and Saturday.
Tissington Hall (Tel. 01335 352200) a fine Jacobean Manor House in the heart of the village. Open to the public for guided tours from 1.30-4pm. Please telephone for details or visit website.
The Old Coach House (Tel. 01335 350501) is an award winning tea room in the beautifully renovated Coach House to Tissington Hall. Open daily 1 March to 31 October from 11-4.30pm, during the remainder of the year open from Thursday to Sunday. Closed over the Christmas period.
The Dog and Partridge (Tel. 01335 350235) is a popular walkerís pub, passed by most traffic visiting Dovedale and situated close to the Tissington Trail. Open daily. Meals served lunchtime and evenings.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
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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Beautiful views, one of the countryís best known valleys and the famous Dovedale Stepping Stones are all included in this exhilarating walk.
At first the walk takes you through the water meadows of the River Dove, before reaching the 18th century Coldwall Bridge.
The tiny limestone village of Thorpe is less than a mile from the famous Dovedale Stepping Stones, but still manages to maintain an air of peace and quiet even in the middle of the summer.
The church has a Norman tower, but probably dates back further, in this ancient village, that was once a Danish settlement.
Soon after Thorpe is left behind, the route descends Lin Dale to the famous Dovedale Stepping Stones and then returns beside the Dove to the start of the walk.
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