The Peak District is a glorious land of breathtaking views and rolling hills, interspersed with sleepy villages, stately homes, rivers, valleys, and mystical remains. With the wilder Dark Peak to the north, dominated by gritstone edges and rugged moorland, and the green pastoral dales of the White Peak to the south, there truly is something for all ages, interests and abilities.
Covering an area of 542 square miles (1,403 square kilometers), the Peak District is surrounded by the vast urban conurbations of Manchester to the north-west and Sheffield to the north-east, with the towns of Chesterfield and Matlock to the east and south-east respectively, and Wirksworth, and Ashbourne to the south and south-west. As such, the national park, the first to be formed in England in 1951, truly is on the doorstep for many; a garden open for all to explore.
This Collection handpicks some really interesting places to explore; some very well-known, others not so. Take the Peak District classic, Mam Tor. Many hikers from around the globe travel to the Peaks to complete this route, or some variation of it, and it is famously challenging, yet stunningly beautiful. On the other hand, some of the Druid stone circles included here are unknown - giving you a great opportunity to experience the mystique all by yourself!
If you want a base in the heart of the Peak District, then Bakewell is a great place to stay and has good bus links. If you are happy to be out of the national park, try Buxton, which has lots of hotels, restaurants, bars, a world-class theatre, as well as good bus and rail links.
As with any rural area, a car is the best way to travel around between the hikes, but there are decent bus connections around the Peaks.
Bakewell bus information: bustimes.org/localities/bakewell
Buxton bus information: highpeakbuses.com/routes
Buxton rail information: northernrailway.co.uk/stations/BUX
General Peak District travel information: peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/publictransport
Steeped in history, legend and folklore, this route is as fascinating as it is beautiful.
The Druid stone circles of Dolls Tor, Nine Ladies and Nine Stones Close have a surreal and spiritual energy; their mystical settings always guarantee to sprinkle some magic onto your walk.
Enjoy scrambling on the impressive rock formation known as Robin Hood’s Stride, which, as legend has it, the folklore hero - who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor - once jumped across. For some real-life history, the Hermit’s Cave, embedded into the imposing Cratcliffe Rocks, should alight your imagination. With a four feet high crucifixion carved on the wall of the cave, dating to the 14th century, it certainly will get you thinking. It remains a mystery who the hermit was who lived in the cave.
Even when you are not in the midst of myths, legends or moments in history, the landscape of this route is bound to keep fill up your senses. Whether it is the rugged beauty of Stanton Moor, the picturesque Lathkill Dale, or the myriad views over the Peak District, the magical memories of this route will last a lifetime.
The Dragon's Back is one of the most impressive sights in the Peak District. Visible for miles around, the rugged ridges of Parkhouse Hill and Chrome Hill simply beg to be conquered.
Formed some 340 million years ago, the hills - known as reef knolls - were once coral reefs when the area was covered by a tropical sea.
At 360 meters high, Parkhouse is 65 meters smaller than Chrome. What it lacks in height, though, it makes up for in character. After an extremely steep ascent, you are treated to a picturesque panorama - followed by an exhilarating descent past the limestone pyramid.
After another tough slog up Chrome Hill, the view of Parkhouse is absolutely magnificent and it is easy to understand why the area is so loved by photographers.
After conquering the dragons, the rest of the route is fairly leisurely; giving you the chance to enjoy the wildlife and the views. And, if you fancy the challenge, you can climb Parkhouse again on the return and watch the sunset.
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Walking through the Chatsworth Estate, it can often feel like time has stood still for hundreds of years.
With the glorious stately home standing proudly, the River Wye meandering gently, the ancient hedgerows, neat dry-stone walls and picturesque chocolate-box villages, this is Peak District countryside at its very best - whatever the season.
While this route is fairly lengthy - do not be put off! All the paths are relatively leisurely and there are plenty of pubs, cafes, restaurants, and facilities en route. And, if you are getting tired, there are a few opportunities to cut the route short.
However, if you do decide to take on the full route, prepare to be impressed. Magical bluebell woods, fine examples of English meadows, rolling hills, patchwork fields, breathtaking views and picnic spots aplenty; take a full day, take your time, let the beauty soak in.
The thing with honeypot places like Chatsworth is that, owing to their spectacular beauty, they can get busy with tourists. But by wandering off the beaten track a little, you are rewarded with peace and tranquility that many miss.
Bank Wood is a delightful secret of the Peak District. Spectacular whatever the season, it boasts superb views over Baslow Edge and the villages below.
However, if you are lucky enough to try this route in April and May, prepare for your heart to skip many beats. During the Spring, the woods erupt into color with bluebells. There are not many places where you will find such an abundance of these beautiful flowers.
The magic of Baslow Edge is no secret - and for good reason. With views stretching right over the Peak District and Chatsworth Estate this hiking Mecca draws ramblers from the world over. As you stroll along the edge, enjoying the vista, with the fresh Peak District air blowing, you will surely wonder if it gets any better.
If you are feeling fit, instead of heading back over Baslow Edge, explore Curbar Edge first, offering equally stunning views.
There are Highland Cattle wandering freely on the edge too, giving any photographs of the view an extra je ne sais quoi.
This route, or variations of it, is an absolute classic. Arguably the star attraction of the Peak District, Mam Tor and Great Ridge ignite the desire to explore; walkers from around the globe flock conquer it at all times of the year.
Standing at 517 meters high, Mam Tor sits on the edge of the Dark Peak and the White Peak; boasting spectacular views for miles, including photographers-favorite Winnats Pass. On a clear day, you can even see Manchester!
Mam Tor means Mother Hill. It was named because the frequent landslides on its eastern face have created many mini-hills beneath it. These landslides, which are caused by unstable lower layers of shale, also give the hill its alternative name of 'Shivering Mountain' and have produced another of its attraction: the broken road, now twisted and broken from the hill's movements.
This route is definitely challenging. Make sure you have sturdy boots, suitable clothing, a map and compass. The weather changes fast on Mam Tor and may have fallen victim to this. Do not fear, though, as far as it goes, most people can handle this.
If you are visiting the Peak District, this route is not to be missed!
The postcard village of Ashford in the Water is a fine example of a Peak District village. With its much-photographed medieval Sheepwash Bridge, pretty 12th century church, quaint cottages and beautifully-tended gardens, the village is picturesque.
After strolling through Ashford in the Water, this route takes you over delightful pastures before rewarding you with one of the most iconic views the Peak District has to offer. The view from Monsal Head, overlooking Headstone viaduct and the steep valley below is, quite simply, awe-inspiring. With benches to enjoy the view too, it is for good reason that photographers flock to the viewpoint.
After strolling along the viaduct itself, this route takes you down into the picturesque Monsal Dale, along the winding River Wye. If the scenery whets your appetite for more walking, take a stroll up the valley towards Litton Mill, before looping back to the viaduct and continuing with the route.
After enjoying Monsal Dale and Great Shacklow Wood, you finish on the Sheepwash Bridge. The beautiful bridge, overhung by willow trees, was built on the site of the ford across the river. In times gone by, sheep were driven into river to be washed prior to shearing.
This fabulous riverside route takes in the spectacular countryside of the southern Peak District and Dovedale, with classic views from the surrounding hills and lots of things to explore.
Enjoy skipping over the stepping stones that cross the River Dove, enjoy the numerous caves, and be sure to spend some time fossil hunting.
The ancient rocks of Dovedale gorge were formed more than 350 million years ago by the accumulation of dead sea creatures. The fossils you will find today come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Look out for fossilised brachiopods - they look like clams - or crinoids, which are known as ‘Derbyshire screws’ for their long and twisty arms.
Enjoy a picnic by the river, see the lambs play in the springtime, keep an eye-out for kingfishers and herons, and see if you can identify the Barbel, Chub, Bream, Roach, Dace, Carp, Perch, Pike, Grayling and Trout that live in the river itself.
While this route is a cracker, if the mood - and weather - is right. Why not spend the day exploring Dovedale. There is plenty to keep all ages enthralled.
This route is easygoing and leisurely, giving you the opportunity to explore the historic market town of Bakewell and the delightful Monsal Trail with ease.
Situated on the picturesque banks of the river Wye, Bakewell, the biggest town in the Peak District, boats beautiful stone buildings, a medieval bridge, quaint courtyards, prim gardens, weekly farmers’ markets, and plenty of opportunities for delicious food and drink. A magnet for artists, photographers and tourists alike, Bakewell is a town steeped in history and tradition that begs to be explored.
The Monsal Trail runs along the former Midland Railway line for 8.5 miles (13.7 kilometers) between Blackwell Mill and Bakewell, giving you the opportunity to see some of the Peak District’s best limestone dales on a smooth and traffic-free route.
There are many different villages and footpaths off this route, giving you the chance to extend, or shorten, at will. However, if you do take on the full route, you will experience part of Bakewell and its surrounding countryside that many visitors do not see.
Top tip: try a Bakewell Pudding. Legend has it famous Pudding was created by mistake in the mid-19th century.