Thorpe Cloud stands in the White Peak region of Dovedale, and is the main reasons why this stretch of Peak District skyline is often referred to as ‘Little Switzerland’. With no hills directly beside it, and with a distinctly conical shape, Thorpe Cloud evokes the appearance of a grand, free-standing mountain – albeit, much easier to climb than any you’ll likely find in the Alps! From Ashbuorne, Thorpe Cloud is only about a 10-minute car ride away and provides a big pay-off relative to the little effort needed to climb. At a mere height of 942ft, Thorpe Cloud’s summit reveals views of Bunster Hill, the River Dove, Alstonefield, and Llam. The summit of Thorpe Cloud also, around the time of midsummer, provides views of a ‘double sunset’ phenomenon.
Thorpe Cloud started life as reef knoll – a calcareous mound formed on the seabed, solidified by an accumulation of organisms, such as sponges. The living organisms that existed on this mound were responsible for the steep sides of Thorpe Cloud that define the hill today.
The original settlers to the Village of Thorpe were Danish settlers during the 9th Century, the word ‘thorpe’ being Danish for farmlands.
The earliest reference of Thorpe appeared in the Domesday Book of 1086, simply listed as ‘torp’. A later record from 1323 listed it closer to its present title, referring to it as ‘Thorpe on the Clottes’. ‘Clottes’ is derived from the English word ‘clud’, which means big hill.
In 1934, both Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill came into the care of the National Trust.
In 1997, renowned geography writer, Jeff Kent, was admiring Thorpe Cloud from Lin Dale, and made a startling discovery: a double sunset could be spectated against the ridge of Thorpe. The reason for this is to do with the rotation of the earth; after the initial sunset, the earth rotates slightly, allowing one to see the sun emerge briefly a second time over Thorpe Cloud. This is best seen when standing on the summit of Lin Dale, and during midsummer, and the days both prior and post the solstice.
How to get there
For Thorpe Cloud, the best starting point would be the Dovedale carpark, which only costs £3. From the carpark, simply follow the River Dove, and you will eventually see Thorpe Cloud appearing on your right. Slightly further along the Dove you will come across the popular stepping-stones.
The hill is located very close to Ashbourne, making it a great spot to add to any intinerary including this popular Peak District
The postcode for the Dovedale carpark is DE6 2AY – it is not uncommon for satnavs to lead visitors down wrong paths!
-Because of the amount of attractions found within its locality, Dovedale carpark can reach capacity often during the summer months.
-A van, normally situated at the carpark, will be able to supply visitors with drinks and snacks.
Things to see and do while at Thorpe Cloud
-Traverse across the River Dove via the picturesque stepping-stones, which have been used since the early 1800s! The River Dove is also a popular swimming destination on hot days.
-Ilam Park is a mere half-hour walk away from Thorpe Cloud. Ilam is worth visiting for its scenic River Manifold banks, the 16th century stately house Ilam Hall, ancient woodlands, and its tearoom.
-Wolfscote Dale is a dramatic ravine with the River Dove running through its centre. Passing by the lofty hills of Gratton and Wolfscote, the dale has plenty of craggy high peaks offering up spectacular views. Wolfscote Dale is also home to limestone outcrops, wildflowers, and even Daubenton’s bats! There is also a Neolithic cave on the eastern side of the dale, known as Frank ‘Ith Rocks.