Walking

The Peak District National Park

The first ever National Park to be created in the UK, the Peak District has a special place in the heart of all those who visit. Covering 555sqm miles across areas of Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, it encompasses some of the most beautiful parts of the UK.

Divided in two, the Peak District has a yin and yang appeal. In the south, the low limestone plateau of ‘the White Peak’ is covered with rolling pastureland and sculpted with caves, gorges and dry valleys. Meanwhile in the ‘Dark Peak’ of the north, the landscapes are defined by rugged moorland and untamed wilderness. Carpeted with heather and notched with dark, gritstone crags, much of the area has an almost brooding quality, pitted with mires of bogs and black peat.

Naturally, for those looking for something a little less ordinary, the two sides of the Peak District have an irresistible allure. With its picturesque towns and villages and miles of multi-use trails that provide safe passage across its countryside and moorland, it offers an unrivalled space in which to escape the crowds and absorb the area’s unique ambience. And ambience it certainly has. A land of ancient civilisations, the Peak District positively ripples with a magic that is instantly palpable.

In fact, while some may be lucky enough to be experiencing the call of the Peak District for the first time, the area’s numerous ancient monuments and sites reveal how long humans have been interacting with its extraordinary landscapes. With evidence of Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements, its lands are engraved with the vestiges of ancient cultures, including Arbor Low (one of the UK’s most important Neolithic sites) and Minninglow (a collection of Early Neolithic tombs).

Whatever you are looking for from a Peak District retreat, the National Park will certainly have something for you. From thriving market towns like Bakewell, Buxton, Leek, Ashbourne and Matlock, to idyllic villages like Castleton, Eyam, Ashford-in-the-Water, Edale and Tissington, there are many places from which to base your adventures. Of course, if you have a sweet tooth, a trip to Bakewell’s Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, the home of the famous Bakewell Tart, is an absolute must.

For romantics and history-lovers, there are many regal estates to visit with grand country homes and sprawling gardens. Considered to be one of the most famous in the country, Chatsworth House in Bakewell, the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, is on many people’s bucket-list. Also in Bakewell, Haddon Hall is particularly recommended as well. Kept under lock and key for 200 years, the stunning manor houses some of the world’s best-preserved Medieval and Tudor rooms. 

Of course, one of the main draws of the Peak District is its immense natural playground, with more than 1,800 miles of footpaths and bridleways to follow. In the White Peak, the 46-mile Limestone Way is one of the best routes for discovering the Park’s verdant landscapes. Meanwhile, the 9-mile Kinder Scout walk loops around the highest point in the Peak District and shows off the dramatic terrain of the Dark Peak, including formidable gritstone edges, inky lakes and roaring waterfalls.  

If you are into climbing, organised parties can take you out to send the area’s best routes. Stanage Edge in Hathersage has nearly 1,500 routes alone up its gritstone faces – great for both traditional climbing and bouldering. That said, if wheels are more your bag, then the Peak District’s 65 miles of off-road cycle trails will definitely be of interest. Some of the best cycle trails include the re-purposed railway lines of the Monsal Trail, Tissington Trail, High Peak Trail and Manifold Way

Feeling inspired? Take a look at out luxury cottages in the Peak District and Derbyshire here.

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