Circular Walks in the Peak District

Circular Walks in the Peak District

With its 555-square-miles of gorgeous landscapes, the Peak District National Park in central England is one of the best places for walking and hiking in the country. From windswept ridges to ancient woodland to open moorland, its tapestry of habitats unfolds to provide the most stunning backdrop for short rambles and long hikes in the fresh air.

If you can’t wait to place one foot in front of the other and wander out into the countryside, we’ve put together a list of some of the best circular walks in the Peak District National Park we think you’ll love.

Kinder Scout

Views from Kinder Scout down to Kinder Reservoir

As the highest point in the Peak District, Kinder Scout lies in the Dark Peak of the Derbyshire Peak District and is naturally a magnet for walkers looking to conquer its lofty summit. Putting the peak in Peak District, it also provides some of the most challenging terrain in the park with steep ascents and descents, and rocky ground underfoot. If you’re up for the challenge, the full 7.5-mile circular walk around Kinder Scout will reward you with some of the most beautiful views imaginable, unravelling across hills and moor and reaching as far as Snowdonia on clear days. As you walk, you’ll follow part of the Pennine Way en route – a 268-mile long-distance trail that cuts through the Peak District and across England’s wild and rugged northern uplands.

Mam Tor

Rolling peaks and fields at Mam Tor in Hope Valley in the Peak District

Not far from Kinder Scout in the High Peak of Derbyshire, the hulking frame of Mam Tor is a well-known sight amongst Peak District fans. The matriarch of the park, it’s known locally as ‘Mother’s Hill’ due to the collection of smaller hills that lay at its hem. As well as its photo-worthy aesthetics, at nearly 1,700ft high, Mam Hill also draws admirers for its great Peak District walks – especially the National Trust’s 3-mile Mam Tor loop. Leading you along a stone-surfaced footpath from Mam Nick car park to the top of Mam Tor and back, this 2hr-long walk affords some of the most dramatic views in the Peak District National Park, with uninterrupted panoramas over Kinder Scout and the Edale Valley.

Kinder Reservoir

The peaceful waters of Kinder Reservoir backed by rolling fields

If you’ve already conquered Kinder Scout or would simply like to try a different route, then why not give the Kinder Reservoir loop a go? A fantastic 5.2-mile circuit around the fields and moorland of the Edale Valley, this lovely route navigates the shores of Kinder Reservoir and follows the Peak District’s famous Snake Path. Weaving through picturesque tree-lined avenues and running across heather moorland speckled with purple flowers, this 3.5hr route showcases some of the park’s prettiest scenery, including views over the craggy outlines of some of the High Peak’s most iconic hills. Further along the valley, you can also pick up the shorter 3.5-mile Edale circular, which follows part of the Pennine Way and flows through the Vale of Edale.

Derwent Valley and Ladybower Reservoir

Derwent Edge looking down at the valley below

Lace up your boots, pack some water (and snacks, of course) and head off to Derwent Valley to enjoy this superb circular walk. Running for 4.6 miles across farmland, up cloughs, through woodland and over moors, this moderately challenging walk in the High Peak is one that appeals to all generations of ramblers – both of the human and canine variety. A particular highlight, this circular trail boasts stunning views of Win Hill and follows the banks of both Derwent Reservoir and Ladybower Reservoir – some of the top places to visit in the Peak District. As you walk around Ladybower, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the site of Old Derwent, the remains of a village that was flooded during the 1940s to make way for the dam.

Monsal Dale

The famous Monsal viaduct reaching above the trees

Get ready to embrace the beauty of the Peak District National Park with the 4.5-mile Monsal Dale walk. Tracing the shape of a slightly askew egg-timer across the landscapes of the White Peak, this beautiful walk rewards amblers with incredible scenery at every turn – from wooded gorges to the serpentine body of the Peak District’s River Wye to verdant countryside. It also includes a walk across Monsal’s famous five-arch viaduct, a disused railway bridge built in the 1800s by Midland Railway. If the views alone weren’t encouraging enough during this hike, this circular walk in the Peak District also happens to start and end in the vicinity of two popular pubs: the Monsal Head and the Packhorse Inn.

Baslow Edge

The famous wind-shaped eagle stone at Baslow Edge in the Peak District

A 3.3-mile walk from Curbar Gap car park to Baslow Edge, this great circular walk on the eastern edge of the Peak District National Park is a real favourite. Featuring some short uphill sections, moorland romps across wildflower-strewn lowland, and gorgeous views over the Derwent Valley and Curbar Edge, it takes around 2 hours to complete and offers a continuous feast for the eyes. A charming addition to the walk, you may also be lucky enough to spot some of the magnificent cattle who are occasionally grazed on the land around Baslow Edge and Wellington’s Monument. Known for their glossy, golden locks and striking horns, this ancient cattle breed is most often seen dozing in the sunshine or happily munching away on grass and bracken here.

Chrome Hill

The iconic Chrome Hill towering above the fields in the Peak District

Offering year-round beauty as each season transforms the landscapes, this 4-mile loop crosses the border of Staffordshire and Derbyshire and along the ridge of Chrome Hill – aka the ‘Dragon’s Back of the Peak District’. Starting at Hollinsclough village, it skirts around Hollins Hill and cuts across the River Dove, before ascending up the 425m Chrome Hill. Looking upon the spiny backbone of Chrome Hill and neighbouring Parkhouse Hill, it’s easy to see how this hilly duo earned its intriguing nickname – looking strikingly like the back of a sleeping dragon. For the best views of the dragon, you can elongate this walk with a wander up to the summit of Parkhouse Hill, which affords awesome views directly along the spine of Chrome Hill.

Padley Gorge

Enchanting moss covered boulders and trees in the woods in Padley Gorge

Close to the Peak District’s Eastern Moors, this wonderful 2.3-mile circular trail leads you through the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate – a large area of moors, meadows and ancient woodland. Starting from the estate’s Longshaw Café, it meanders past still ponds, through the woodland of Padley Gorge and the banks of Burbage Brook. Along the way, you can pause at Granby Barn to learn about Longshaw’s history and wildlife, before finally treating yourself to a bite of something tasty at the café upon your return. For further exploration of Longshaw, you can also complete a 3-mile lap of the estate’s woodland.

Langsett Reservoir

Green fields and woodland surround Langsett Reservoir in the Peak District

A Miles without Stiles loop, this lakeside circular is a gentle mile-long stroll around Langsett Reservoir in Yorkshire on the edge of the Peak District National Park. With virtually level pathways the whole way, this route features both well-surfaced paths and woodland trails that offer something for everyone. Linger by the waterside, stroll along the waterfront prom and cut through the trees for a relaxing wander, looking out for glimpses of the dam’s valve tower built to replicate the gatehouse of Lancaster Castle. If you can, pack a pair of binoculars to take with you on your walk – both the reservoir and the surrounding woodland are a sanctuary for various wildlife species, including lots of birds who make themselves at home between the shore and trees.

Dovedale Stepping Stones

The famous Dovedale Stepping Stones across the river

Dovedale National Nature Reserve in the Derbyshire Dales is the place to go for one of the best walks in the Peak District: the 3.3-mile Dovedale circular. Ideal for walkers of all ages, this family-friendly walk encompasses many White Peak highlights, including Thorpe Cloud, 1,000-year-old Saxon crosses and, of course, the stepping stones themselves. Perfect for that post-walk pint, this route starts and finishes in the village of Thorpe at the southernmost tip of the Peak District, where two popular pubs await: the Coach and Horses and the dog-friendly Old Dog. Another variation of the walk, the short but sweet 1.5-mile Ilam Park to Dovedale Stepping Stones trail takes you in a direct line to the stones and back again.

The Roaches

The beautiful moorland at The Roaches as dawn

A great walking route that calls to walkers from near and far is the Roaches circular in the south-western edge of the Staffordshire Peak District. A 5.8-mile walk that begins and ends at the award-winning Roaches Tearoom at Upper Hulme near Leek, this wild and wonderful walk leads you through moorland that bursts with the purple blooms of wild heather in summer. Presenting a striking showreel of Peak District scenery, its winding trails follow an undulating course, past gritstone ridges and chasms, mermaid pools and rocky outcrops. It also leads you through landscapes once famed for being home to real-life colonies of wild wallabies. They haven’t been seen for a few years now, but who’s to say they’re not still there?

Ready to don your walking boots and head out on an adventure? Discover our luxury cottages in the Peak District and Derbyshire here.

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