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A stroll through Ilam Park

September 30, 2020
September 30, 2020 - A stroll through Ilam Park

Wondering what to do this Autumn? If you love walking why not enjoy a winter weekend staycation at Hoe Grange and take a stroll through Ilam Park?

Ilam Park

One of the treasures of the Peak District, Ilam Country Park covers 158 acres with a stunning backdrop of Thorpe Cloud. It is now owned by the National Trust, together with the remains of the 19th century mansion of Ilam Hall, which is used as a youth hostel.

The National Trust also maintains the Italianate Garden below the house, as well as Hinkley Wood, an ancient wooded area planted with limes. Hinkley Wood is a designated SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

At its extremity are the River Hamp and River Manifold, which after taking separate subterranean courses emerge and unite to form a wide river at the valley bottom.

Stroll along the softly flowing Manifold River before heading up through the woodland walks to blow the cobwebs away on the higher hillside. It’s worth the climb to take in the stunning views across the Manifold Valley.

The history of Ilam Hall

The Ilam estate stands on land that used to form part of Burton-on-Trent Abbey. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries ownership passed to William Paget, who was Principal Private Secretary to the King, who then sold the manor to John Port in 1547. The Port family built the first known Ilam Hall on the ridge over the river in the Elizabethan period and remained in residence for the next 250 years.

In 1809 the Ports sold Ilam to David Pike Watts, a wealthy brewer from London. On his death his daughter Mary inherited Ilam Hall. She was married to Jesse Watts-Russell, an MP and High Sherriff of Staffordshire, who rebuilt the hall as it stands today.

The new hall built by James Trubshaw, a builder and engineer, was completed in 1826. As part of this showy country retreat an Italianate garden was designed and installed, which you can wander around today.

Ilam Hall by Wesley Kristopher Chambers

Like many large country houses Ilam fell into disrepair during the 1930’s and was sold for demolition. Luckily before the whole building was knocked down Sir Robert McDougal stepped in and bought what was left of the house.

About a third of the original house survived, including, The Great Hall, service wing, hall, and entrance porch. Ilam Hall was then given to the National Trust on the understanding that the house would be used as a Youth Hostel. It is now listed as Grade II* status as a historic building.

Holy Cross Church

Holy Cross Church sits within the park, not far from the hall, against the back drop of the iconic Thorpe Cloud. The Medieval church was rebuilt in Victorian times and sits on the site of an earlier Saxon church which commemorated the shrine of hermit St Bertram. This 6th-century saint took up a solitary life after his wife and child were killed by wolves in the forest that once covered the area. Thankfully the wolves are long gone and there are only sheep wandering across the pastures.

The Church is worth a visit to see the beautifully carved Saxon font depicting scenes from the saint's life, and the 13th-century altar table in the South Chapel said to be Bertram's shrine.

Saint Bertram’s Well

A short distance South of the church is St Bertram's Well. Further upstream you will find a grotto where writer William Congreave composed his first play, 'The Old Batchelor', while on a visit to Ilam in 1689.

Follow the Paradise Walk and you will discover a Saxon cross called The Battlestone, thought to commemorate a battle against the Danes. There are many footpaths to follow, including this circular walk to Dovedale, before heading back to the tea rooms to enjoy a cup of tea and a delicious slice of cake!

Ilam Village

Ilam village is quaint and unique in character. Watts-Russell moved the entire village as it spoiled the view from his new hall. He modelled the houses in a Swiss style, because the stunning countryside reminded him of Alpine scenery, which he no doubt discovered on a Grand Tour!  I wonder what the peasants of Derbyshire thought? The Swiss style cottages were probably a step up from their old farm cottages.

Watts-Russell is not the only Lord of the Manor to have dramatically moved a whole village; the same thing happened at Chatsworth! Between 1838 and 1842 William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire had the village of Edensor moved out of sight over a hill, apart from one cottage whose tenant did not want to move, which still stands in Chatsworth Park today.

Ilam Cross

The most prominent local landmark is Ilam Cross, which is a scale model of a medieval Eleanor Cross, built in memory of Mary, Watts-Russell's wife, who died in 1840. During restoration a few years ago the top cross was taken down. All the primary school children jumped over it on the ground so that later in life they can stand and look up to the top of the monument and tell their grandchildren they jumped over the cross!

Autumn is a fabulous time to discover the delights of Peak District countryside, so why not book a weekend away at Hoe Grange?


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  •   We spent four nights at Hoe Grange and had a lovely time. The location is fantastic and right next to the High Peak Trail. The cabin was very clean and... read more


      A beautiful place to stay! Amazingly run family business! Everyone were very welcoming, friendly and cozy! The skylark pod we stayed in was very clean, cozy and well equipped! The... read more


      What can I say?
    Absolutely superb!
    We have just returned from a family weekend staying in Daisybank cabin and the Skylark pod.
    It was our first trip away with my... read more

  •   We stayed in Pinder cabin and had a lovely stay, the cabin was spacious and comfortable, nice and warm after cold days out. The children loved meeting the animals and... read more


      On arriving at Hoe Grange in a downpour, we doubted if we’d made the right decision to go glamping, but after the warm welcome from David and a quick tour,... read more


      For the second year running, we have had a great family holiday at Hoe Grange. We had one cabin for the week, for two sisters and our elderly wheelchair-using... read more

  •   lovely surroundings real farm country with chickens paying you a visit nice decking area to chill at the end of the day accommodation very good plenty to do nearby... read more

    vincent s

      Stayed last week, from 6th to 13th September in the log cabin called Hipley. This was amazing, it was our first visit but certainly not our last. Gold standard disability... read more


      Lovely place to holiday near to interesting locations and easy access to the High Peak trail and Carsington Water. Part of a working farm with fresh produce to enjoy during... read more

    Angie B
  •   What a lovely weekend away! We stayed in the lovely gypsy caravan, which was a wonderful and really unique experience. We took along our two horses, who also had a... read more


      We wanted a complete break and some peace and quiet and this was perfect. The caravan was secluded with beautiful views over the countryside. Everything was spotlessly clean and well... read more

    joanne B

      We have just returned from a short stay in one of the pods on site at Hoe Grange Holidays. We couldn’t recommend them enough. The pod has everything you could... read more

  •   Loved every minute of our stay, and so did the family and friends that came to stay. Excellent facilities in our cosy Hipley log cabin. By far the best... read more


      We love this place. Very wheelchair friendly, really well equipped and comfortable, with easy access by car to lots of places of interest particularly Crich Tramway Village, Chatsworth, Bakewell and... read more

    David H

      We stayed in Rainster cabin for a long weekend 6 th to 9 th September. This was my 5 th visit to the amazing Hoe Grange. I had visited before... read more

    Jan Horsman J
  •   What a wonderful find. As our first experience of needing accessible accommodation we could not have wished for better. Beautiful well equipped lodges in lovely surroundings. We stayed in both... read more


      We had a lovely time staying in one of the incredibly well equipped pods. I bought my pony along and we had some great rides on the high peak trail.... read more


      We stayed for a night in one of the cabins . The cabin was spotless and very well equipped , lots of extra touches were added like fresh eggs and... read more

  •   We stayed in the Skylark pod last October (2018) and had a lovely time. There was homemade, rustic goods (bread, biscuits etc) when we arrived. Felicity and David who run... read more


      We stayed in Skylark, one of the two glamping pods available at Hoe Grange in February 2020.

    Felicity & David welcomed us when we arrived to show us around... read more


      Second visit to the accessible holiday cabins at Hoe Grange. David and Felicity were as helpful and friendly as ever. We had a welcome pack of freshly baked bread, butter,... read more

    Charlotte M
  •   It's been three years since we last visited but once we arrived it certainly didn't feel like it!
    We stayed in Hipley again which had had a refurbished wet... read more


      Recently spent a week in "Pinder" and had a lovely time. The location is stunning - the site is nestled in a beautiful valley on the edge of the Peaks... read more


      We love this place. Very wheelchair friendly, really well equipped and comfortable, with easy access by car to lots of places of interest particularly Crich Tramway Village, Chatsworth, Bakewell and... read more

  •   Arrived and was shown to our pod, fantastic location and the pod was very good indeed plus we had home made bread and milk and tea and coffee. A... read more


      Another great holiday at Hoe Grange - such a great place for us all to holiday as a family - this time with a baby, a 3 yr old, a... read more


      We've just returned from our second visit to Hoe Grange. The suggested riding routes with stunning scenery were enjoyed by my daughter and I while the menfolk were delighted with... read more

  •   Felicity and David made us feel very welcome right from our booking. The pods are well equipped and spotlessly clean. The area is very peaceful with great views and we... read more


      Myself and my sister travelled to Costa Rica and Panama via Viva Holidays Ltd. The holiday was exceptional and one to be treasured forever. Andrew at Viva Holidays... read more

    Paula C

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