In late spring we make our annual trip to the Staffordshire border in search of the wild garlic. At Ilam, it carpets the banks of the River Manifold, and the wonderful scent is heavy in the air. We breathe it in: summer is on the way.
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Starting at Ilam Park, a National Trust property, we walk through the formal gardens, and cross the stone bridge over the River Manifold…
… the wild garlic reaches from the edge of the water, up past the trees, as far as you can see.
A short detour takes you to the natural playground of jumbled old logs and tree stump stepping stones through the foliage.
Turning back towards the distant hills and past an old gear house…
… we make our way through fields of sheep. A short walk beside the road then leads us down some old stone steps, cut into the corner of the village bridge.
The lambs are so friendly, and tag along after the children, joining us as we walk alongside the river.
It has been a really dry spring, leaving this bridge redundant, but our youngest two children love it, and run back and forth over it several times.
Towards the end of the walk, the route takes a sharp turn up hill, into breezier paths lined with yellow gorse.
One final climb up a grassy hill…
… takes us to the perfect picnic spot, where we have a clear view across the valley to the distinctive flat summit of Thorpe Cloud. We will be climbing Thorpe Cloud, later in the year, when we make a return to Dovedale.
Follow our journey along the winding, gentle river, from Ilam, to the merging of the Manifold and Dove rivers, close to Dovedale and Thorpe Cloud:
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