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Mam Tor in the Peak District, Derbyshire
Mam Tor in the Peak District, Derbyshire

Things To Do In The Peak District

Jane Austen re-wrote parts of Pride and Prejudice to include Derbyshire of which she wrote "there is no finer county in England". With its varied landscape, postcard-perfect views, warm stone buildings, and hospitable locals The Peak District is certainly an excellent choice for your holiday.

Escape to the Splendour of the Peak District

No superlative is too excessive to describe the charm and beauty of the Peak District. Whether you visit when the spring flowers form a fragrant carpet or the autumn leaves paint the landscape in their fiery shades of red and orange, when the summer sun warms the tors, or the winter frosts turn mornings into glittering jewels, it is nothing short of glorious.


Discovery Days

Discovery Days in the Cotswolds
Discover the Peak District

The Peak District is a delight of chocolate-box villages and towns linked by a great network of footpaths, cycle paths, bridleways and roads traversing stunning countryside. Here are a few suggestions to help you discover the authentic spirit of the Peak District.

Bakewell & Chatsworth House

You could easily spend a day exploring both Bakewell and Chatsworth House, so if you only have a weekend in the Peak District then spend it here. Chatsworth House is one of the finest homes in Europe, having been owned by the Cavendish family since it was built in 1553. The house is packed to the rafters with treasures and artwork to rival any palace or gallery, while the grounds total 105 acres of ornamental gardens, parkland, flowers, follies, and fountains. As if that wasn't enough, there is a farmyard, playground, several excellent restaurants and a fantastic gift shop. At just over £60 for a family ticket (less if you only want to see the gardens or house) it is not cheap, but you certainly get your money's worth.

Bakewell is the nearest town to Chatsworth House and what a charmer it is! It is set on the banks of the River Wye and is a captivating mix of stone buildings, pretty gardens and bakers selling the town's famous Bakewell puddings.

As the largest town in the national park, Bakewell offers every amenity you need and is a great base for exploring the Peak District. Browse the town's boutiques, take a stroll by the river, and stop by the Bakewell Old House Museum for a peek into the area's past. All Saint's Church was largely rebuilt in the 1840s, during which time some of the original Saxon stonework, dating to around 920, was uncovered. The stonework can now be seen together with stone coffins from the same era.

The River Wye, Bakewell
The banks othe the river Wye, Bakewell


Derby is a flourishing city that has grown up beside the Derwent River. Derby Cathedral is a good place to start your day of discovery. The interior is relatively modern with beautiful stained glass windows. It is possible to climb the 189 steps to the top of the tower for fantastic views of the city and surrounding area, or why not walk a few minutes away to St Mary's Bridge Chapel, which is one of only six remaining bridge chapels in Britain. Derby also has a good museum and art gallery with interesting displays and seasonal events.

Not far from town centre is Derby Gaol. Now a museum, it is rumoured to be haunted and certainly has a spooky atmosphere. It's just near Pickford's House, another local museum which gives a comprehensive look at the lives of well-to-do Georgian households and is free.

Derby is ideal for shopping and has more than 160 shops - mainly high street brands - together with a cinema and restaurants. If you want to step away from history into the present day, you can do it here.


The Peak District National Park was formed to protect this beautiful environment so get outside and enjoy it. Dovedale is a picturesque spot where stepping stones cross the Dove River at a shallow point. There is a car park nearby (which is privately owned and currently costs £3 per car) if you just want to see the stones and have a picnic and there is a family and dog-friendly walk from Ilam village that goes through the limestone valley. The river marks the divide between Staffordshire and Derbyshire and, while the trail is nice at most times of the year, it can get muddy if it has been raining.

Dovedale, Peak District
Walkers in Dovedale, Peak District

Dovedale is an extremely pretty village and a designated SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and ANOB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). The village is mainly owned and managed by the National Trust.

Kinder Scout & Hayfield

At 631 metres (2088 feet) above sea level, Crowden Head on Kinder Scout is the highest peak in the Peak District National Park. It's a strenuous walk to the top but worth it for the view across the gritstone crags and outcrops. There are two ways to approach Kinder: from Edale village going via Grindsbrook and up Jacob's Ladder, or from Hayfield going via William Clough. It is especially beautiful when covered in snow, or on a bright day when the natural rock formations stand boldly against the sky.

Hayfield is at the foot of Kinder Scout. The village was listed in the Domesday Book, but it wasn't until a mill was built there in the 1700s that it became a village of any real significance. It is a good choice for a restorative drink and dinner after a day's walking in the hills with pubs like The Sportsman and The Pack Horse, or stop by Millie's Tea Rooms and Chocolatier on Church Street for a light meal or slice of cake.


As well as being known as the highest village in England, Flash used to have a reputation for counterfeit money making and illegal prize fighting. Those days are long gone and the only rough and tumble you are likely to find these days is the water as it flows down the rocks at Three Shire Heads at Panniers Pool. One of the best ways to see this rugged landscape is on horseback, which you can do from Northfield Farm and Trekking Centre.

Three Shires Head is so called because it is the spot where Cheshire, Derbyshire, and Staffordshire meet. There is a nice four-mile circular walk that leaves from the car park at Clough House.


The Fitzherbert family have looked after the village of Tissington since Elizabeth I was on the throne and they've done an amazing job because it is one of the prettiest villages in England. The entrance to the village is via the lodge gates off the road between Buxton and Ashbourne and down an avenue of 200-year-old lime trees.

In addition to a lovely Jacobean manor house which the Fitzherberts were fortunate to keep when they backed the losing side in a fight between parliamentarians and royals in the Civil War, Tissington is known for the practice of well dressing. This tradition which takes place around the Feast of The Ascension when the village's five wells are beautifully decorated in thanksgiving for the purity of their water. A good reason to visit Tissington is for Edward and Vintage sweet shop, which looks like the sort of place that might have inspired Roald Dahl.

Rainy Days

The Great Ridge, Peak District
Storm clouds over the Great Ridge, Peak District

When it rains you can either don your mac and wellies, or head to one of these fantastic wet weather activities in the Peak District.

Poole's Cavern and Blue John Cavern

Escape the rain by going underground. Poole's Cavern is in Buxton Country Park. The limestone cave was formed millions of years ago, and you can learn about its history and the geological formations in one of the regular tours, which take around 45 minutes. It is not a full day and, if you're only visiting the cavern, can feel expensive, but it's a view you don't find in many places. If the rain lets up, there are some lovely walks including one up Grin Hill to Solomon's Folly.

Blue John Cavern is near Mam Tor in Castleton. Where Poole's Cavern is relatively accessible with only 25 steps across the entire tour, Blue John has around 300 stairs on the guided tour across the group of caverns. Treak Cliff Cavern, Peak Cavern and Speedwell Cavern are all nearby.

It is important to note that while the caves are safe from the rain, they are still wet environments. Bring a waterproof jacket and wear grippy shoes, especially for Blue John.


When the heavens open, take shelter in Chesterfield's church with its crooked wooden spire. Chesterfield has several good shopping areas. Go to The Shambles and The Yards for independent retailers, Vicar Lane and The Pavements for familiar high street brands, while a stroll past the boutiques, galleries and shops on Chatsworth Road could leave your wallet considerably lighter.

Chesterfield Retail Park is just outside the town centre (you can walk there, but there is also plenty of parking) but it's quite bland. Instead, go to Chesterfield Market where there is an antiques and flea market every Thursday, and monthly farmers and artisan markets.

Visit a Museum or Stately Home, The Peak District has a long and rich history which is preserved and celebrated in the region's many museums. Some of the best include:

A rainy day is a good excuse to enjoy the sumptuous furnishings of a stately home followed by a welcome cup of tea and slice of cake. Try Renishaw Hall, Tatton Park, Haddon Hall, Bolsover Castle or Hardwick Hall.

Haddon Hall in the Peak District
Haddon Hall in the Peak District

Crich Tramway Village

Step back in time at Crich Tramway Village near Matlock. You can have as many rides as you like on the vintage trams, and there are several indoor exhibitions exploring the history of these vehicles. An entire street has been recreated to look as it would have during the tram's heyday, with buildings being salvaged from other parts of the county and rebuilt with care to create a living museum which hosts various vintage events throughout the year.

Walk to a Waterfall

Lumsdale Falls, Matlock, Peak District
Lumsdale Falls, Matlock, Peak District

If you have appropriate clothing then a rainy day is the best time to visit one of the Peak District National Park waterfalls. Kinder Downfall is the tallest and can be accessed via paths from Edale and Hayfield. The flow of the fall actually freezes in extremely cold winters, providing an exciting challenge for keen climbers.

Tucked away near Eyam is Waterfall Swallet. It is on private land and can only be viewed from the road, but it is worth the walk. Eyam is a nice village with good amenities and a fascinating history of the Plague.

The third waterfall is in Lumsdale Valley near Matlock. This route can get busy on sunny days, but on a wet day when the paths are muddy, you're unlikely to see anyone. Park at the top of the valley, opposite Highfields School, for the easiest and most direct route.

Settle Down with a Good Book

A rainy day is the perfect opportunity to hunker down with a good book. Even if you don't fancy going outside, we have a few reading suggestions that will bring the Peak District inside to you.

Jane Austen was so inspired by the beauty of Bakewell, Chatsworth House and the surrounding countryside that she immortalised them in Pride and Prejudice. Far from a frothy romance, it is a pithy, occasionally caustic, look at society in the 18th Century. If your literary taste is for darker, more modern fiction, take a copy of The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell away with you. It is a twisting thriller where the landscape is as well-defined as any of the human characters. The pages of Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks, will help bring the history of the plague village of Eyam to life by using an 18-year old character to tell the tale of a fictional village that chose to isolate itself to prevent the spread of disease. Another great choice for a relaxing day reading by the fire is the Cooper and Fry crime series by Stephen Booth, which star DS Diane Fry and DC Ben Cooper and are set in Derbyshire. The series has 18 books, starting with Black Dog.

Adventure Days

Stanage Edge, Peak District
Hiking in the Peak District: Stanage Edge

If you seek adventure, you will find it in the Peak District.

Gulliver's Adventure Park

Kids of all ages will love Gulliver's in Matlock Bath. There is a good range of rides including a log flume, dodgems, a drop tower and pirate ship, all set across several themed areas. There are lots of indoor and outdoor play areas and, while it's not exactly Alton Towers (which is just outside the Peak District, in Staffordshire), tickets are considerably cheaper than a large theme park, particularly if you buy them online in advance.

Mountain Biking

insert photo 5 There are seemingly endless mountain bike trails suitable for all abilities across the Peak District. If you don't have your own bike you can hire one at places like Parsley Hay south of Buxton, Bike Garage in Bamford, and Blackwell Mill near the Monsal Trail.
Stanage Edge, Peak District
Hiking in the Peak District: Stanage Edge

There are lots of websites with information to help you plan your route, including Monkey Spoon, Flattyres MTB (who also provided guided rides), and iBike Ride.

White Water Rafting

If there is a group of you, a white water rafting experience could be the adventure you want. The raft holds eight passengers and a guide who will help you navigate the rapids between Darley Dale to Matlock Bath. At around £40 per person for a 90-minute journey (plus briefing time) it's an exhilarating way to experience the Peak District.

An alternative to white water rafting is canoeing. Peaks and Paddles run four mile guided trips down the Derwent River that are suitable for the whole family. They also offer longer experiences for the fitter and more experienced canoeists lasting up to 7 hours. In addition to canoe trips, Peaks and Paddles can take you caving and abseiling so you can enjoy the national park from practically every angle!

Walk from Mam Tor to Losehill

Man Tor, Peak District
Sunrise over Man Tor, Peak District

The National Trust have marked a nice three-mile circular route through the Hope Valley which takes in Mam Tor, Windy Knoll, Blue John Cavern, and Hollins Cross. It will take around two hours, has fantastic views, and is a nice trip out with dogs. If you do not feel that energetic or you only have a little time, there is a pay and display car park near Mam Tor with a stone path that leads to the peak.

Wild Park Derbyshire

With activities like quad biking, laser tag, archery and paintball to enjoy, you certainly won't be bored at Wild Park in Brailsford near Ashbourne. The outdoor activity centre is open 7-days a week and is not bad value.

Lazy Days

Carsington Water, Peak District
Carsington Water, Peak District

While the Peak District caters for those with an adventurous spirit, it also has a lot to appeal to the lackadaisical visitor. Here are some suggestions for a relaxing day.

Matlock Bath & the Heights of Abraham

Matlock Bath is a spa town but, unlike Buxton, whose waters were enjoyed by the Romans, the spa waters here weren't discovered until the late 1600s. Its popularity exploded in 1840 when the well-to-do flocked to what was touted as "little Switzerland". Evidence of the money spent to develop Matlock Bath remains visible in the lovely stone Georgian and Victorian buildings, formal gardens, and promenade. One of the highlights is a trip in the cable car to the Heights of Abraham where the views on a clear day are spectacular.

Carsington Water

If you are looking for a relaxing day out that the whole family will enjoy, head to Carsington Water. There's plenty of space to spread your blanket, as well as lots of activities if you get a spurt of energy (kayaking, windsurfing, paddle boarding and sailing to name just a few). A café, restaurant and snack kiosks will refuel hungry appetites or take a picnic, your bike and find a quiet spot to relax by the water and watch the boats. There is also a BBQ area (don't forget your disposable BBQ) but this does get busy at peak sunny times.

Peak Rail

Steam Train, Hope Valley, Peak District
Take a Steam train across the Peak District

Settle back and enjoy the beauty of the Peak District countryside between Rowsley South and Matlock from the comfort of a vintage train. There is a licensed buffet car on the train, or you could book a special Sunday lunch or afternoon tea in the Palatine Restaurant carriage.

Renishaw Hall and Gardens

There are several lovely stately homes in the Peak District. While Renishaw Hall may not be on the scale of Chatsworth House (not much is!) both the hall and the gardens are a good place to spend a lazy day. Guided tours of the ground floor take around an hour and bookings are essential. Renishaw Hall has been the home of the Sitwell family for more than 400 years, and the family has always been enthusiastic collectors. The family display many of their artworks and curios in a museum that is open from Wednesday to Sunday.

The gardens at Renishaw Hall are worthy of a visit in their own right. They were designed by the current owner's great grandfather and laid out in the Italianate style with woodland, lakes, statues, and benches placed strategically to make the most of the views. Renishaw also has a vineyard, and cafe serving locally made cakes.

Ladybower Reservoir

Ladybower Reservoir, Peak District National Park
Ladybower Reservoir, Peak District

Ladybower is a favourite beauty spot near Bamford. If you felt up to it, there is a flat walk around the water's edge, but you could just spread out your picnic blanket and settle happily in one place for the day. There is pike and trout fishing on the reservoir, and if you don't have a rod or aren't sure which end the fly goes on, Ladybower Fisheries will be happy to help.


Ashbourne is a nice market town with a fabulous array of quirky shops, friendly pubs, and welcoming cafes in a cheerful mix of old buildings. Who knows what treasures you will find as you take a detour down a tiny alley or browse the cobbled market place! Make time to visit St Oswald's Church and see the poignant tomb of Penelope Boothby who broke her parents' hearts when she died in 1791.

Buxton Insert

Buxton, Peak District National Park
The Park Gardens, Buxton, Peak District National Park

The spa town of Buxton ticks all the boxes for a lazy day out. There is a full complement of lovely Georgian buildings, a regular market every Tuesday and Thursday, art galleries, antique shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants, and pretty parks.

Take a stroll along The Crescent, and drop your postcards in the Victorian postbox on Water Street (opposite the Opera House) which has been in use since 1866 and is Grade II listed.

A good way to explore is on the vintage tram-style tour bus run by Discover Buxton (who also organise themed walking tours).

Weekenders' Guide

Essential Guide to the Peak District
A whirlwind tour of the the Peak District

Whether you're in the Peak District for a weekend, a week or even longer, here is a list of experiences that you should not miss.

Sweet Treats in Bakewell

Legend has it that the Bakewell Pudding (not to be confused with the Bakewell tart) was the result of a botched recipe in the kitchens of what is now the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop. While their puddings are tasty, the cafe and shop are quite touristy. Instead, try the Bakewell Pudding Parlour in Wye House on Water Street.

Visit Nine Ladies

This bronze age stone circle actually has ten stones, but you can ignore that because it's a lovely walk with fantastic views. The stones are small - no taller than two feet high - and are said to represent nine ladies who were turned into stone as punishment for dancing on Sunday. It is in an extremely nice area of the national park not many tourists make an effort to reach.

Winnats Pass

Drive or cycle through Winnats Pass for incredible views. The limestone valley was formed when a cave system collapsed and water eroded the rocks. It is rumoured to be haunted by Alan and Clara - lovers who were murdered while they were eloping, and on a windy day when breeze whips around the cliffs, it is easy to believe!

Calke Abbey

Calke Abbey is the antithesis of what you would expect from a country house. It was allowed to fall into decline and while it is now carefully managed by National Trust who have preserved rather than restored the rooms, and presented them as they were when the house was handed over in 1985.

The rooms give a fascinating insight into what happened to so many country houses when they became too expensive to maintain. It is open between March and October.

See Darley Dale's Ancient Yew

The yew tree in St Helen's churchyard at Darley Dale is one of the oldest trees in Britain. Estimated to be around 2,000 years old, the trunk measures nearly 10 metres (33 feet) in diameter.

Last Minute Offers in The Peak District

Thinking of a break in The Peak District? Let us tempt you with a selection of our best last minute offers. Remember, we don't charge a booking fee, so the price you see is the price you pay.

Did you know?

...The Peak District National Park is Britain's oldest National Park, having been founded in 1951.

...The fourth Duke of Devonshire had the entire village of Edensor moved because he felt it was too close to Chatsworth House.

...Kathleen Kennedy, the sister of assassinated American President John F. Kennedy, is buried in Edensor churchyard. She was married to William Cavendish, the Marquess of Hartington, and would have become chatelaine of Chatsworth House if he had not been killed in action four months after they wed.

...If you look in the burial registers of some churches, such as St Helen's in Darley Dale, you will see it recorded that people were "buried in woollen". This was because of a law passed in 1666 that decreed no one was allowed to be buried in anything that wasn't made from wool unless their family wanted to face the steep penalty of £5.

...Although she never confirmed it, it is believed Jane Austen took inspiration from Chatsworth House when she created Pemberley, the home of Mr Darcy, and that she based the town of Lambton on Bakewell. Austen stayed at the Rutland Arms Hotel in Bakewell in 1811.