Far fewer folk visiting the Peak District know about the Manifold Valley than Dovedale, which is both a shame (because scenically there's little to choose between them) and a blessing (because scenically there's little to choose between them and one's a lot busier than the other). So it was that my one day off during a week of lounging by / swimming in the pool during our holidays was spent having a dander to, along, and out if it.
I started from the village of Wetton, taking a path down to the Manifold's most renowned scenic highlight: Thor's Cave. This majestic cavern is set high in the cliffs overlooking the valley, relatively easily accessed by a path and a final easy scramble. As this is waterwashed limestone it can be really slippery when wet, but it wasn't Bon Jovi who came here for an album cover...it was The Verve (who were just Verve back then), whose 'A Storm in Heaven' LP has the classic shot looking out of the cave on the front.
Suitably impressed I dropped down to the valley floor by a steep path and picked up the old railway line that's now followed by the Manifold Way. This is followed kind-of southwards past Weags Bridge, then another path leads under the startling cliff of Beeston Tor before climbing steadily onto the moors.
At the top of this climb I went wrong (see https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ilam-park-dovedale-and-the-white-peak/trails/manifold-valley-peak-district which is the route I was trying to follow), missing a little kink back east, so I ended up having to follow a road down to Throwley Hall farm rather than hitting it directly. Continuing along the road to Rushley I crossed the river and picked up the field path to Ilam Hall, a lovely rustic residence with what looked like an excellent tea room (I didn't partake).
Heading for home now, I walked through the grounds to Ilam village itself, then took the road along the east side of the valley. This I left to take an obvious track up round the back of Castern Hall manor house. Once above the hall I hung left to pick up a less obvious path that allowed for a glorious view over the Manifold looking north. After a final look I cut back right (east) to pick up a minor road that led back to the start in around 2km.
An excellent ramble.