Peak District National Park: The Complete Guide

Peak District National Park

 

Photos by R A Kearton / Getty Images

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Peak District National Park

Address
Castleton, Hope Valley S33 8WS, UK
Phone +44 1629 816200

Founded in 1951, Peak District was the first national park established in England. The park covers a massive 555 square miles, encompassing portions of Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, York, and Manchester. It's split into two sections: the White Peak with its rolling hills, limestone walls, and pastureland and the craggy moors of the Dark Peak.

The Peak District receives over 13 million visitors a year and is particularly popular with walkers, cyclists, and horse riders due to the 1,600 miles of paths, tracks, and bridleways available as well as the postcard-perfect towns, villages, and stately homes that can be found throughout the park. Here's everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to the Peak District.

Things to Do


Explore Stately Homes:
There’s no shortage of stately homes and historic houses in the Peak District, with many of the country’s most impressive buildings being located here including:

  • Chatsworth House: One of the Peak District’s most famous attractions and used as the filming location for Permberly in the 2005 "Pride and Prejudice" film and has extensive land and woodland to explore as well as an opulent interior.  
  • Lyme Park: A vast estate that, incidentally, was the filming location for the 1995 "Pride and Prejudice" series. You can take the National Trust Pemberly Walk to see more filming sites in this area. 
  • Haddon Hall and garden is also very much worth a visit and is particularly interesting for medieval enthusiasts as this home dates back to the Middle Ages featuring interiors and a museum that is endlessly fascinating.

Tour Cromford Mills: An impressive Grade 1 listed building set in a gorgeous landscape, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cromford was the world's first water-powered cotton spinning mill and a testament to the industry that built this area. Tours and audio tours of the site are available.

Marvel at the stones of Arbor Low: One of the most important Neolithic stone circles in the UK made up of 50 limestone slabs.

Try Local Foods: There’s no shortage of famous foods to try in the Peak District. Don't miss out on Bakewell pudding from Bakewell, Hartington Stilton cheese, Ashbourne gingerbread, and Buxton pudding.

Best Hikes and Trails

  • The Limestone Way: Starting at Castleton, Derbyshire, this trail runs south through the heart of the national park and ends in Rocester taking you past some of the many highlights of the Derbyshire countryside. There are pubs and cafes along the route, which takes about 48 hours to complete. Inns and B&Bs are available but make sure to book early during peak season.
  • High Peak and Tissington Trail: You can walk, cycle, or go horse riding down the 13-mile Tissington trail which stretches from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay. Endless rolling hills flank these former railway lines. The High Peak Trail joins Tissington from the south and heads towards Buxton.
  • Saddleworth Moor: The Saddleworth Moor walking route offers a number of trails that allow you to explore the sweeping valleys of the moor and the small towns and villages within it. These trails are well suited to beginner hikers. It’s also an ideal gateway to the Dark Peak.
  • The Roaches: This is a favorite area of hikers and climbers, offering winding trails through expansive green landscapes as well as the Ramshaw Rock formations. Reaching the top offers panoramic views of the Peak District and, on a clear day, views of Cheshire and even Snowdown in Wales. This area is also steeped in mythology. There is said to be a Blue Nymph mermaid who resides in the beautiful Doxey Pool.
  • Mam Tor Circular Walk: This two-hour hike to the peak of Mam Tor is an accessible way to do some hiking in the Peak District, especially if you’re short on time. Near Castleton, this is one of the most famous walks in the national park and offers one of the best views in the country.
  • Ridge Walk: Considered one of the best ridge walks in the U.K., this walk takes around two to three hours and starts at the car park in Castleton. The route takes you along a stone path over Treak Cliff, Blue John Cavern, the summit of Mam Tor, Back Tor, and Lose Hill Pike. You can make your way back on a slighter longer route via Hope village which offers pub grub, cafes, and a stroll along the river.
  • Pennine Way: The historic Pennine Way, which takes you to the Scottish border, begins in the Peak District and is considered one of the most challenging walks in the U.K. The entire route takes 20 days to complete but walking a portion of it is also an option.

Where to Camp

Wild camping is not permitted in the Peak District though you will see people doing it anyway. However, there are some fantastic private campsites available in the Peak District with incredible views and convenient facilities. Here are a few of the best:

  • Middle Hills Farm Campsite: Set on 40 acres of landing with sweeping views of the national park, this campsite offers a place for static and not static campervans, two luxury cottages to rent, or their camping pod named Jabba the Hut. They also have a small catering van on site with tea, coffee, and light refreshments.
  • Upper Hurst Farm Campsite: Located in Harlington, near Bakewell, Buxton, Ashbourne, and Leek this is very convenient for exploring the park and small towns. Luxury yurts are available with hot tubs, holiday cottages, and tent and camper pitches. Immaculate toilets, showers, and kitchen facilities are also available. Pet friendly, there’s even a designated walk for your four-legged friend.
  • Laneside Caravan Park: Found in Hope with excellent access to Mam Tor, this pet-friendly campsite offers serviced pitches for tents and campers with excellent facilities including showers, a laundry room, a site shop with camping supplies, and a butty hut with breakfast and drinks.

Where to Stay Nearby

The Peak District offers some of the most quaint and historic boutique hotels in the country. Here are a few conveniently located options.

  • Bagshaw Hall: In the heart of beautiful Bakewell, the Peak District’s biggest town is an ideal base for hiking or visiting Chatsworth House. This historic boutique hotel offers private dining and self-catering facilities making it a flexible option.
  • Landal Darwin Forest: Situated in the centrally based scenic market town of Matlock, Landal Darwin Forest offers luxury private lodges with facilities including a swimming pool, activities for children, and fine dining.
  • The Coach House: A conveniently located boutique historic B&B in the city of Derby. With individually styled bedrooms and generous breakfast, this hotel offers a touch of luxury to set you up for the day.

How to Get There

It is easy to access the Peak District using public transport as Sheffield, Derby, and Manchester all have major train stations and can be accessed by train or coach from anywhere in the country. Chesterfield and Buxton are also excellent access points which can be reached by train. 

Driving is also an option, with ample parking at most sites. You can rent a car in Derby or surrounding cities to make your journey around the park easier.

Tips for Your Visit

  • During the high season (June to August) finding a place to park can get difficult, especially around popular trails. You can use the car park status tool to plan ahead and potentially find a quieter spot to park.
  • Public transport is available in the Peak District with buses and trains connecting the larger towns and most popular areas. In the summer, the Hope Valley Explorer (a hop-on hop-off bus) connects some of the smaller towns and villages with the trails.
  • Make sure to carry a small amount of cash with you and some snacks and drinks while you are on the trails.
  • Keep an eye on the festival page before going as there is always something happening in the Peak District
Article Sources
TripSavvy uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Peak District National Park Authority. "Media Centre Facts and Figures."

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Peak District National Park: The Complete Guide