The Peak District National Park is a walker’s paradise. Spread out over Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire, the Peaks are home to countless trails, hills, mountains and popular walking routes that bring visitors to the area all year round.
Whether you’re a serious rambler or just want to get out and about for something to do during your trip to this beautiful national park, there are a huge range of different routes for treks and walks in the Peak District. With plenty of established trails and clearly signposted footpaths crisscrossing the landscape, you can tailor many of these walks to suit your own preferences and the abilities of those in your walking party.
Here are eleven of the best walks and treks in the Peak District.
Mam Tor Circular Walk
The route up and along the famous hill known as Mam Tour is often described as one of the best ridge walks in England, so if you’re after outstanding locations for hiking in the Peak District, you don’t want to miss this. Overlooking the village of Castleton in the High Peak district of Derbyshire, the hill rises 517m above sea level and provides really impressive views across the surrounding landscape once you have made the climb to the top.
Locals often refer to Mam Tor as the ‘shivering mountain’ because of the frequent landslides down the eastern side of the hill. These are caused by unstable layers of shale rock and have previously caused a nearby road to be closed for good after multiple slips made the route unsafe.
There are plenty of different walking routes that incorporate a trip up Mam Tor, with a smooth, stone-surfaced footpath providing a clear route across the ridge. You can park right at the bottom of the hill and just walk up and along the top, which is around a 3-mile route and relatively easy for all kinds of walkers.
When looking for recommendations for some of the top Peak District walks, Kinder Scout is bound to come up almost every time. Rising 636 metres above sea level, it’s the highest point in the national park and a key feature of many walks around the local area, with plenty of routes from Edale or Hayfield offering moderately challenging terrain as you climb right to the top of the plateau.
Kinder Scout is not only famous because of its height, but it’s also the site where the 1932 Mass Trespass took place to protest against the threat of laws stopping walkers from enjoying huge areas of the English countryside. Thanks to the peaceful protest organised by hundreds of keen ramblers, legislation was introduced that walkers could freely explore land like Kinder Scout and much of the Peak District; a key moment in walking history.
The protest involved a mass walk from Hayfield to Kinder Scout, which is one of the most popular routes for visitors to the area. The 8-mile trek does require a good level of fitness, but the views from the top are unbeatable.
Hathersage to Stanage Edge
This popular walking route takes you around the Derbyshire Dales and offers views of some of the area’s most iconic landmarks. There are a couple of different circular routes that lead from Hathersage to Stanage Edge and then back down, all of which are between 7 and 9 miles and suitable for the majority of walkers.
This walk begins in the pretty village of Hathersage, which is well known as being a location that inspired the English author Charlotte Bronte to write her famous novel, Jane Eyre. You’ll travel up to Stanage Edge; a gritstone escarpment that stretches over 3 miles, and walk along the ridge as you admire panoramic views of the landscape dotted with remnants of the Peak District’s milling industry.
After tracing the peak of Stanage Edge, you’ll descend the cliffs and walk back to Hathersage on one of several different routes.
The Roaches is the name of a vast area of land in the Staffordshire Peak District located above Leek and the Tittesworth Reservoir. It’s characterised by a steep, gritstone ridge that has many interesting rocky outcrops and offers a range of different sights as you walk around the area, with several popular routes taking you past iconic spots.
Whether you’re starting your walk from Upper Hulme or Leek, it’s a moderately easy patch of the Peak District to explore with plenty of more challenging areas of terrain that are popular with rock climbers or scramblers. Some of the highlights that you should visit during your walk around the Roaches include the Doxey Pool, which is said to be the home of a mythical mermaid, and the eerie rock chasm known as Lud’s Church.
The Monsal Trail
Walking and cycling trails that have been converted from old railway lines are popular in the Peak District, and the Monsal Train is one of these. Running for 8.5 miles between Bakewell and Chee Dale, it’s a traffic-free route through the Dales that was once the line of a Midland Railway train, and now offers an easy longer route for walkers or a stretch of path that can be tackled in shortened sections.
If you’re looking for short walks in the Peak District then the Monsal Trail is an excellent choice, whether you decide to travel the whole route or just walk part of the path. A highlight of this route is the four train tunnels that you pass underneath, which were only opened to the public in 2011 and are each 400 metres long.
The Limestone Way
The Limestone Way is one of the best-known walks in the Peak District. This long-distance walk covers 46 miles through the southern Peaks in Derbyshire and Staffordshire, beginning in Castleton and ending in Rocester.
Devised by the Rotary Club of Matlock in the 1980s, this is a route that is less daunting than the popular Pennine Way and has been designed to showcase some of the most beautiful parts of the Derbyshire Peaks.
If you’re looking for a serious Peak District walking route then the Limestone Way is an excellent choice, taking most walkers between 3 and 6 days to complete. It’s also a brilliant route to hop on for a shorter walk that lasts a day, with particularly beautiful sections between Youlgreave and Tissington.
The Tissington Trail
The Tissington Trail is the ideal place for easy Peak District walks if you don’t fancy having to climb up and down the undulations of the landscape. Running from Parsley Hay to Ashbourne in Derbyshire, it’s an old London and North Western Railway track that has been turned into a walking and cycle route without any other traffic for visitors to the area to enjoy.
The entire length of the Tissington Trail is 13 miles, which can be walked in a day by those with reasonable fitness and similarly cycled in a morning or afternoon. However, just walking sections of the Tissington Trail is a very popular choice for families and those with children, as the route is very flat and there is a range of cafes, toilets and points of interest on the trail to keep younger walkers entertained.
Chatsworth House is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Peak District, and there are several circular walking routes that include the estate and are an excellent choice if you’re looking for an interesting and varied hike. Key locations in the route are the house itself, the village of Baslow and the gritstone rock face known as Birchen Edge.
Circular routes around this area range from 3 to 10 miles depending on which paths you take, and all include sections through woodland, alongside the river, up rocky sections of hills and through areas with cafes, shops and toilets. Those wanting to visit Chatsworth House as part of the walk will have to pay for entry into the house itself, but there are playgrounds, a farmyard and extensive gardens to also explore.
Many people refer to Chrome Hill as one of the only true peaks in the Peak District, so if you’re looking for one of the best walks in Derbyshire then this landmark should definitely make it onto your list. Located near to the popular town of Buxton, you can walk from the village of Earl Sterndale towards the hill, climb up along the ridge and then make your way back down, with the option for a longer walk by scaling one of the nearby hills as well. We recommend novices take a guided tour to see the best the Peak District has to offer.
The line of seven limestone summits that Chrome Hill is part of was formed by former coral reefs rising out of the ground and forming knolls that are now covered with grass and a range of wildlife. Chrome Hill is often referred to as The Dragon’s Back because of the way that the ridges pushing up out of the earth resemble the scaly plates on the back of a dinosaur or mythical dragon. On approach, it really does look like a huge beast is sleeping amongst the hills!
Hartington Circular Walk
There are plenty of popular Peak District circular walks, and this route from Hartington is a great choice for those who are looking for a variety of different scenery and terrain. A couple of different circuits are available, but the most popular is just over 5 miles and should take most walking parties a couple of hours to complete.
The route begins in the charming village of Hartington in the White Peak area of Derbyshire and skirts around the 338-metre high Wolfscote Hill. You’ll walk across Beresford Dale and Wolfscote Dale alongside the River Dove and then journey back across Biggin Dale to the village, where you can enjoy the end of your walk with a visit to one of the charming cafes or local pubs.
Ladybower Reservoir Circular Walk
A very popular Peak District circular walk is that which skirts around the edge of the iconic Ladybower Reservoir, most famous for being the filming location of the popular 1950s movie The Dam Busters. Located in the Derbyshire countryside in the Upper Derwent Valley, the reservoir is ‘Y’ shaped and crossed at one point by the Ashopton Viaduct which is an incredibly photogenic spot.
The walk around the reservoir is about 5 miles long and consists of mainly flat, smooth paths, so it’s a great place in the Peak District for walks with pushchairs or wheelchair users. There are a lot of picnic tables and benches along the route which makes this a popular choice for families, and you can strike out into the countryside from the path in many places if you fancy adding a bit more distance onto the walk.
Walking in the Peak District is one of the most popular pastimes for visitors to the area, and when you take a look at just how many different trails, routes and pathways there are, it’s easy to understand why! No matter who you’re with or where you’re staying, there are plenty of options for anyone who wants to trek, hike or stroll through this huge national park, and we hope this list has given you a good taste of what’s on offer.
If you’re planning a holiday to the Peak District and are looking for accommodation options, why not take a look at our range of self-catering properties in the area.