Category: Holiday Activities

The 10 Best Villages to Visit In The Peak District

Stretching across Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, the Peak District is one of the most popular national parks in the UK. With a wonderful selection of towns, cities, walking trails and impressive hills and mountains, it’s a brilliant year-round destination that is perfect for all kinds of travellers, whether you like your itinerary filled with gentle day trips or an active adventure.

Plenty of towns in the Peak District are well known for their attractions, but there are also a lot of beautiful little villages as well that definitely deserve a visit. You might be looking for somewhere to stay or you might just be searching for somewhere to visit for the afternoon; look no further. Here’s our guide to ten of the best villages to visit in the Peak District.

Ashford-in-the-Water

Ashford-in-the-Water is one of the most beautiful Peak District villages to visit, located in Derbyshire on the banks of the River Wye. It’s best known for having been voted the top location for the traditional game of Poohsticks by Visit England, and you can usually find families and couples standing on the frequently photographed Sheepwash Bridge and dropping their twigs into the water that runs beneath.

There are very few places in the Peak District more picturesque than this village, which is full of quaint stone cottages and surrounded by gorgeous countryside. Another reason that Ashford-in-the-Water gets so many visitors is that it’s one of the last places in England that still practices the tradition of well dressing, and between May and September you can see the local’s handiwork around the various wells in gardens and on street corners around the village.

Castleton

Castleton is another village in the Peak District that lies in the Hope Valley, perched at the foot of several hills and valleys that make it a great place to stay if you’re planning some serious walks. Nearby attractions include Mam Tor, also known as the shivering mountain because of the numerous landslides that have happened over the years, and Winnat’s Pass which is a hill pass and limestone gorge found in the National Trust’s High Peak Estate. 

Inside the village itself, you’ll find several streets of charming rural houses along with plenty of good tea rooms, cafes and traditional pubs. There are also jewellery shops selling pieces made out of the famous Blue John stone, which is only found in the Peak District and Derbyshire.

Once you’ve enjoyed the various offerings of the village itself, the ruins of impressive 11th-century Peveril Castle sit on a hilltop overlooking the village and are a great place to walk to for some historic sightseeing and views stretching out over the entire area.

Hartington

The charming village of Hartington is located right in the middle of the Dove Valley and is one of the best places in the Peak District to base yourself and explore the rest of the area. Historically Hartington was granted a market charter in 1203 and became a pretty important economic hub for the surrounding villages and farms, which you can see in some of the remaining historic grandeur of the cottages in the centre.

Hartington is a brilliant place to stay in the Peak District if you’re planning a walking holiday, with Beresford Dale, Wolfscote Dale and Dovedale all pretty nearby. Arbor Low, a Neolithic henge monument, is also quite close to the village, along with other tourist highlights like Wolfscote Dale and Parsley Hay.

You should also come to Hartington if you’re a cheese fan, as the village is home to a famous shop that sells all kinds of variations of this dairy product, including an award-winning Stilton.

Tideswell

Tidewell is one of the largest Peak District villages which makes it a good place to base yourself on a holiday if you want to explore the rest of the surrounding area but don’t want to stay somewhere too remote. It’s quite a unique part of the Peaks because it is surrounded on all sides by limestone mountains, sheltering it from the worst of bad weather and giving the whole place quite a strong sense of community.

A key attraction in Tidewell is the 14th-century church of St John the Baptist, which is commonly referred to as the Cathedral of the Peak because of its impressive size and intricate design.

As well as being quite a lively village in the Peak District all year round, Tidewell holds several annual events that are well worth attending throughout the year, such as the popular Food Festival in May and the ‘Wakes’ festival around the summer solstice. The Nature Reserve of Tideswell Dale is nearby if you want to enjoy some of the surrounding countryside, or the bustling town of Buxton is only a short drive away. 

Tissington

The history of Tissington dates back to the 17th century when the village was originally built to support the Tissington Hall estate. It’s a very pretty little settlement in Derbyshire right on the edge of the Peak District National Park, best known for the walking and cycling trail that gets its name from the village. 

The Tissington Trail is a 13-mile accessible track that runs from Ashbourne to Buxton and was once a London and North Western Railway line before it was closed and then converted into a public footpath. It runs through the village of Tissington and is one of the most popular walking routes in the Peak District, especially with families.

Inside the village of Tissington itself, there are plenty of things to see and do, from quirky antique shops to classic tea rooms and little craft and gift shops. An annual highlight is Well Dressing Week when locals decorate the wells dotted around the village with all manner of items in a nod to an old Easter tradition. 

Alstonefield

Alstonefield is found in the White Peak area of the Peak District, and despite being quite a small village it certainly packs a punch with its natural beauty. Located between the borders of Staffordshire and Derbyshire, it’s close to both of the popular attractions Dovedale and Wolfscote Dale which makes it a great place to visit if you’re planning a walk to either of those rocky outcrops.

The centre of Alstonefield is clustered around a village green and edged with trees, with places like The George hotel, St. Peter’s church and the old village hall all within walking distance of each other. There aren’t as many attractions as you’ll find in other Peak District villages, but it’s a great spot if you want to explore somewhere a little less touristy that is still incredibly beautiful.

Edensor

Edensor is actually pronounced ‘Enza’ and was commissioned by the 6th Duke of Devonshire for the workers at the Chatsworth estate in 1839 after he decided that the original village blocked his view from Chatsworth House. If you’re visiting the grand old building then it is definitely also worth stopping off in the village and taking some time to wander the pretty little streets and admire the beautiful countryside you can see in the distance. 

A key feature of the village is St Peter’s Church, the graveyard of which includes a memorial to Kathleen Kennedy, the sister of former USA President John F Kennedy. The other main attraction in Edensor is Edensor Tea Cottage, which is always bustling with walkers, visitors and those staying in the village’s holiday cottages.

Eyam

If you’re a fan of history then Eyam should be top of your list of places to visit in the Peak District. Not only is it a classically beautiful little village in the Hope Valley in Derbyshire, but it also has a fascinating past that has turned it into one of the most-visited parts of the national park.

Eyam is famous for the events of the black plague in 1665, where infection reached the village after a piece of cloth carrying the infection was shipped from London. The locals realised what was happening as they started to grow ill and imposed a strict quarantine on the entire village, stopping anyone from leaving or entering.

Around 260 of the villagers of Eyam died of the plague despite these strict, preventative measures, leaving only 100 people left living there. This story has been immortalised in the village museum and is perhaps the biggest reason that people come to the areas, but visitors can also enjoy a local arts and craft centre, a 17th-century manor house and a craft beer store.

Edale

The small village of Edale is known as the gateway to The Pennine Way; a famous walking trail that begins here in Derbyshire and ends after 268 miles just inside the border of Scotland in Kirk Yetholm. It’s a great place to stay if you’re walking some or all of this route and is also the starting point for the climb up to the famous Kinder Scout; the highest point in the Peak District.

Edale is framed and sheltered by two gentle peaks on either side, so it’s one of the most tranquil Peak District villages to visit. Although it’s quite a small settlement there are several cafes, pubs, a visitors centre and a train station that makes it a great place to stay for a few days or just visit for an afternoon as part of a longer trip.

Hathersage

Fans of classic English literature will often tell you that Hathersage is one of the best villages in the Peak District because of its literary heritage. Located to the east of the Hope Valley in Derbyshire, it’s been known for being the location that famous author Charlotte Bronte was said to have based Thornfield from her iconic Novel Jane Eyre. modelling the fictional place after North Lees Hall.

The links don’t end there however. Hathersage is also said to be the place where Little John – the right-hand man of the historic hero Robin Hood – is buried.

As well as its appeal to book lovers, Hathersage is a lovely Peak District village to come to because of other attractions such as Hathersage Lido, which is one of the only heated outdoor pools in Britain. Stanage Edge is also nearby, which is incredibly popular with adventurous walkers or climbers who want to try and scale the 4-mile stretch of millstone grit.

Summary

The Peak District is certainly known for its beautiful little towns and villages, and we’ve only really scratched the surface with this list. The good thing about visiting places that are as small as the locations listed above is that they never feel too busy, even in the high season, which makes coming to villages an excellent idea for holidaymakers who don’t like a lot of hustle and bustle in the places they visit. From walking hubs to historic sites and popular places for a cup of tea and cake; there’s more than enough to enjoy across the villages in the Peaks.

If you’re planning a visit to a village in this famous national park and are looking for somewhere to stay, check out our range of self-catering properties in the Peak District.

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