Photo courtesy of Poole’s Cavern
The Peak District needs little introduction being the first National Park in the country that spans over five hundred square miles of stunning countryside. Sitting centrally in England, it’s a popular holiday destination and a vast playground for lovers of the great outdoors. With miles and miles of dedicated trails, tracks and footpaths, the Peak District offers endless opportunities for ‘penny free’ recreational fun. From hiking to mountain biking and climbing to family cycling days, this beautiful wilderness has something to suit all energy levels.
Whilst the Peak District has strong appeal to those who want to be at one with nature, many also visit to explore the pretty villages, historic houses, learn about its industrial heritage and experience the excitement of some of the country’s finest attractions. Just some of the reasons that the Peak District is the world’s second most popular national park!
With so many things to do when you visit, let us suggest some of the top attractions to take in during your holiday in the Peak District.
- The Heights of Abraham is a hilltop park with a difference and one of the Peak District’s top attractions. Set amongst the slopes of Masson Hill, access was once challenging before the addition of cable cars, but now everyone can visit and take in the stunning views from the observational bubbles as they rise from the valley floor. Popular with all ages, The Heights of Abraham is located close to Matlock, and can be visited almost any time of the year (open from February until November). As you travel on the transport system you’ll get unrivaled birds eye views over Derwent Valley and Derbyshire (take your camera!) and once at the top there’s plenty to do. Make sure you wear some comfy footwear as there are acres of woodland walks to explore, along with plenty of space to relax, enjoy a picnic and let the kids run around and let off steam. There are also fascinating exhibitions at the top, adventure play parks for the kids and cavern tours where you can follow in the footsteps of miners and explore the amazing underground caves. Dogs are allowed on the cable cars and allowed to explore the grounds but are restricted from the caves, play areas and buildings.
- Set amongst 1000 acres of park land close to the bustling market town of Bakewell, Chatsworth House is a fantastic place to visit come rain or shine. The spectacular country manor style house offers plenty to see and do and is a great day out for all ages. You can wander around the historic house with over thirty rooms to explore (allow at least an hour and a half!); relax in over a hundred acres of beautiful gardens; visit the farmyard for a taste of country life and an introduction to the animals or take the children to the adventure playground for some fun! With shops to browse and restaurants for when you’re feeling hungry, Chatsworth House is fantastic for a whole day out. Dogs are allowed on-lead in the garden and parkland areas and Chatsworth House is normally closed from around the 23rd of December to mid March – check their website for full details.
For a day that is packed full of adrenaline and fun for the younger ones, why not head to Gulliver’s adventure park at Matlock Bath. This theme park has been designed to cater for the whole family with rides suitable for children aged between 2 and 13. There are a range of park attractions and rides for you to choose from ranging from fun log flumes, right through to the Drop Tower ride for those brave enough to take the plunge! With over 60 different rides, shows and experiences and five restaurants to choose from, Gulliver’s provides a whole day of fun for the family and is sure to be one of the holiday highlights for the children. Unsurprisingly, dogs are not allowed at Gulliver’s and please check Gulliver’s website for opening hours which are more limited during winter months.
- Go Ape has a number of adventure parks and assault courses up and down the country and the one in the Peak District is one of its highest! If you fancy visiting it for a tree top adventure then head over to the Spa town of Buxton (please note Go Ape parks are normally closed between December and January). With a grueling assault course of zip wires and high ropes, Go Ape provides an exciting and testing day out for all ages. While there, why not visit the 2 million year old limestone cave which is located opposite Go Ape. Poole’s Cavern is open all year round (apart from Christmas, Boxing and New Years Day) and provides a fantastic underground adventure which will fascinate both adults and kids alike (the incredible crystal stalactites should brighten up the rainiest of days!). Whilst dogs cannot go on the cavern tour, they are welcome in the country park, cafe (doggie treats and water bowls included!) and visitor center. There are also woodland walks for you to enjoy with your dog.
- Last but definitely not least, a place you should visit while you’re in the Peak District is Lyme Park. Originally a sporting estate, Lyme Park is owned by the National Trust and is located in Cheshire on the edge of the Peak District National Park. What is lovely about this magnificent house is that it has kept its history and there is a definite nod towards the Edwardian era which will allow you to drift back in time while you are there. You can explore the whole house including the piano room and the library where you can try out the piano or read a book in the lavish setting! With some 1300 acres of spectacular grounds, there are some amazing walks, lovely park land and stunning views including a medieval herd of deer that happily call Lyme Park home. The reflecting lake (where the gorgeous Mr Darcy met Miss Bennett in Pride and Prejudice) is a must for romantics and the modern park area including a giant slide will keep the children happy for hours. For those with dogs, you are in for a treat as dogs are allowed in the park (on lead near livestock please!) to enjoy the wonderful walks and once a month dogs are also allowed into the gardens. Lyme Park normally closes towards the end of October and re-opens at the end of February (but the park area itself is open all year round for walkers).
These are just a few of the great attractions that the Peak District has to offer but there are plenty more to discover whilst you enjoy your holiday exploring this vast national park.
If you’re visiting with your dog, take a look at our dog-friendly guide to the Peak District