Though overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, the Dove, the River Manifold is still a beautiful river, with a lower section which is hardly less spectacular than Dovedale.
Here a sudden transformation overtakes the river. So far, its surroundings have been unremarkable, but at Ecton the scenery changes dramatically as the river enters a deep limestone valley. The Manifold sweeps past Ecton Hill, once the site of the most productive copper mines in England, and on to Swainsley Hall, built by a Leek mill owner. From Hulme End it is shadowed by a cycle track which follows the course of the former Manifold Light Railway, built in 1898 to carry tourists and freight along the valley and up the Hamps valley to the railhead at Waterhouses, but which closed in 1934.
Beyond Wetton Mill Thor's Cave comes into view. This is a huge cave in a prominent spur high above the valley, which can be seen for miles around. The cave has yielded many objects of archaeological interest which show it was inhabited by both early man and prehistoric animals but it is now primarily an object of interest to tourists, who scramble to its entrance, climb through it and admire the view from the spur above the cave.
Just upstream of Ilam Hall the water from the Manifold and Hamps reappears at the boil holes and the river flows again only to suffer its final indignity at the hands of its more famous neighbour. For when the Manifold joins the Dove below Ilam, there is little doubt that the Manifold is the larger stream, but the combined river is called the Dove.