Staffordshire Tour: Wild riverside garlic and newborn lambs in the Manifold Valley

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:

To find out more about Ilam Park, and walks in the area, see the dedicated page on the National Trust Website



  1. Hi πŸ™‚
    It looks like a really nice place to visit. The video was very peaceful. πŸ™‚ Thank you for letting me come along with you on your hike. I love watching the baby sheep!

    1. Thank you Sarah – I spent a while trying to get a good zoomed-in photo of the baby lambs from over a hedge, little did I know that as soon as we entered the field, they would walk right alongside us πŸ˜€

    1. Thank you so much! We’ve been off exploring lots of old houses and hiking in the wilderness for a few weeks … I will try and get lots of new posts up as soon as possible πŸ˜€ xxx

    1. Thank you! πŸ˜€ We’ve been to a lot of these places when there was just me and my husband … but we enjoy it so much more going back with the children, who see every adventure in every fallen tree and stone staircase πŸ™‚

  2. A great walk. Thank you for the lovely hike into the country-side. I really like that old gear house. Gears for what? It seems to wait for someone to restore and live in it.

    1. Hi there Gerard. We keep spotting these gear houses near stately homes we visit. Some are for controlling the flow of the streams nearby, and others help divert the water flows to feed water features and irrigate glasshouse plants. I think I love these little oddities more than the big houses themselves!

    1. What a wonderful stroll, can almost smell the garlic! Just love the lambs

      PS And thanks to Restless Jo for bringing me here πŸ™‚

      1. Thank you so much for finding us πŸ˜€ We’ve been away hiking, so have only just found all of these lovely comments. We have sent a big thank you to the lovely Jo, as I think she is responsible for a lot of our new followers and visitors.

    2. Hello Jo – I’ve just got back from a lot of hiking trips and can see there are lots of people who have found my blog through yours – thank you so much for mentioning us! We really appreciate it xxx

      1. It’s good to know that people have come looking for you. That’s partly why I keep my walks going. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Happy hiking! I wish I was as fit as I once was.

        1. It’s a brilliant site, I’m hooked πŸ™‚ I’m gradually getting fitter … now that all the children can walk … it was much harder when they were all toddlers, or in baby slings, so we’re just starting to get really adventurous again πŸ™‚

          1. That’s a great stage. Enjoy it! I remember loving it when James was small but he grew out of adventures with Mam and Dad and is off having his own now. They say everything comes if you wait πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Thanks again!

    1. Thank you so much! We had a really lucky day for the trip, the lighting was perfect! (which is not something you can plan even to the hour here in the Midlands!) So glad you enjoyed it x

    1. I can’t wait to catch up with your blog and see how it’s all going in your garden πŸ™‚ We’ve had everything from tropical temperatures to thunder snow, hail and flooding here in the last few weeks … it’s definitely keeping us on our toes πŸ™‚

  3. I am sooo jealous!! Your area is beautiful and I love the “old gear house” – outstanding!! May I save that pic for my drawing crafting? I love playing with drawing and painting and am always looking for a new challenge! I also miss all the green that you have…It was like that growing up in Wisconsin (back in the 1960’s), but on our last visit, the U.P. was becoming too open (logging, man-made cranberry bogs, and -sad-to-say-farmers clearing out most of the beautiful woods up there.). Can always tell, at dusk, when man has invaded too much of the natural areas by the number of wild animals that run out in front of your car. We had 3 small black bears, several deer and I lost count on the raccoons. I really miss the thick greens! Thank you for sharing – especially the beautiful pics!! Nice!!

    1. You are welcome to use any photo on the site for your art, of course, we would be delighted. We only ask that if you use the pics online, you add a link back to the site πŸ™‚ … and let us know how you get on! We’d love to see the results! xxx

    2. We would love to see Wisconsin one day, it always looks beautiful in photographs and in films … very green, and with lovely light. Nothing as exciting as bears here … the biggest predator here would be a fox πŸ™‚

    1. Oh! I shall have to dash to your blog and look to see if there is a video there πŸ˜€ We’ve got plenty more to get online, and I really should make time … it’s just when it’s sunny, it is so tempting to spend all of our time outside πŸ˜€

  4. I really enjoyed this post. The video showcased how lovely different vistas along the walk are and your stills were equally evocative. How lucky your children are.

    1. Thank you so much Robyn! I think we’re the lucky ones, the children give us a great excuse to be big kids πŸ˜€ Really glad you enjoyed the videos – I shall pass that on to my hubby, who does all the video editing for our site, he’ll be ever so pleased πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! I have a great fondness for gorse as when we visit the coast (we live in about the furthest point away you could get from the ocean in England) – the gorse alongside the roads means we’ll see the sea soon.

  5. I found you through Jo’s Monday Walk – I love the old house, and the last photo reminds me of when my parents took me on walks like this when I was a kid πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Eunice for the kind comment, and for finding us via Jo’s blog πŸ˜€ Our website started out as a place to write up our adventures for the children, so if it reminds you of your childhood, we’re very pleased πŸ˜€ x

    1. Thank you so much Anne πŸ™‚ I often say that because I’m normally holding a little one’s hand, my photos get the shots I’m not really aiming for, so they end up a bit quirkier than they should, and at odd angles! I’m so glad you enjoyed them πŸ™‚

  6. The bridges are so lovely and rustic. What fun to cross them for your children, and I’ll bet you, too. It’s amazing how lambs are lambs the world around and how much similarity there is in your countryside and ours although we live far from each other. The lambs are in the fields around here, too, and the babies are getting a little older now. Many are born in late winter around this area. The old gear house is very sturdy looking and looks like it’s been there quite a while. It’s very picturesque. I enjoy seeing all the glimpses of other areas of the world. You live in a lovely area.

    1. Thank you! We’ve been away hiking for a few weeks, so there is lots more to come (as long as I can resist the call of the veg plot for long enough!) You’re right … lambs and sheep do look the same the world over, the only difference I know of being a very feral ram, that lived at the top of one of the mountains in the Lake District. He was unkept, with a very long matted coat and bad tempered, and lived off walker’s picnics πŸ™‚

      1. How fun–to hike for several weeks! It will be fun to see all the places you’ve gone:) Right now, my niece is walking over 200 miles along the border of Ireland. It blows my mind. I’ve never walked such a long distance.

          1. The last we heard from her, she was doing fine. She spent at least one day riding in a van, because her not-so-great feet gave out on her. But, for the most part, she’s able to keep up with the other young people.

  7. Thank you for giving me inspiration for my painting…sometimes hard to find😁 now I just need the time to be now we are in full spring planting mode..soon I hope. Oh and if you get to WI..check out the Dells area and up by Ashland..perfect may even have a small black bear cross your path😁😁

    1. We’re just back from the Norfolk Coast … no bears (!!) … but we did find some very friendly seals that swam up to our toes whilst we paddled πŸ™‚ We took vids, we just need to find a mo to get them online. (too much gardening/hiking getting in the way :-)…)

  8. . It’s a brilliant site, I’m hooked πŸ™‚ I’m gradually getting fitter … now that all the children can walk … it was much harder when they were all toddlers, or in baby slings, so we’re just starting to get really adventurous again πŸ™‚

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