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Derbyshire is a county of staggering views, rugged moors and thriving wetlands. Much of the Peak District lies within Derbyshire’s borders and while the national park lures in hikers with its extroverted personality, the county’s other landscapes are well worth exploring too. Wherever you go, walks in Derbyshire are filled with birdsong and rural landscape.
Two major rivers flow through Derbyshire, carving flat routes through forests and wetland areas. Up in the Peak District, the only complaint you could have is that it offers too many hiking routes to choose from. Will you cross Kinder Scout, Derbyshire’s highest point, off your list? Maybe strolling through Dovedale is more up your tree, with its rolling hills and wildflowers.
It’s easy to enjoy Derbyshire’s hikes as it’s slap bang in the middle of England, accessible by road and train. Historic Derby is a wonderful city to visit while towns like Hathersage, Bakewell and Edale are fantastic bases for a week or more of hiking.
Whether you’re a local or an intrepid outsider, you’ll find plenty of walking trails to explore in Derbyshire. The only question is, where will you start?
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You could spend a lifetime hiking in Derbyshire and still be discovering new trails when you hit your 100th birthday. It’s a county unusually blessed with both 2000-foot summits and low-level wetlands with a handful of castles thrown into the mix.
The Peak District National Park takes up the northern half and you’ll find some of the best hiking trails Derbyshire has to offer within its boundaries. This area is ideal for week-long sojourns to the hills and there are plenty of places where you can embrace adventure and forget the rest of the world exists. It’s also the southern end of the Pennines, a range of hills and mountains running north for over a hundred miles.
For classic peaks and Derbyshire’s more exposed landscapes, head up into the Dark Peak region with its gritstone outcrops and heathlands. The hiking here can be as challenging or as relaxing as you make it, with a choice of walks as long as your arm.
In the White Peak region of the national park, you can meander through stunning ash woodlands, through the gentle dales and roam the limestone plateau. If you’ve ever wanted to try landscape photography, this is a rather lovely place to start.
The Peak District is the county’s gregarious beauty spot but you’ll find stunning hikes through Derbyshire. In the Derbyshire Trent Valley, there are abundant wetlands and nature reserves that provide trails for walkers and habitats for wildlife. In the northeast, the historic coal fields are now nature reserves where you can spot some of the county’s beautiful birds.
There are many reasons to set off on walks in Derbyshire, not least for the sheer abundance of wildlife. In the southern and northeastern wetlands, you can spot kingfishers, otters, brown hares and yellowhammers (that’s a bird, not a brightly coloured tool).
Up in the Peak District, keep an eye out for England’s only population of mountain hares with their white fur coats in winter and early spring. You can spot peregrine falcons and buzzards in the skies and the White Peak’s wildflowers attract hordes of butterflies.
The mixture of landscape in Derbyshire will reward even the most daydream-prone hiker, so prepare to get up close and personal with nature.
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Explore more of England: Browse the best Hikes in other regions.