10 of the Best Places in The Peak District
In an area that is full of stunning landscapes and picturesque villages, this is our list of some of the best places to visit in the Peak District National Park and nearby, which show just what is so special about the Peak District. Want to know where to find them? There is a map at the bottom of this page.
Hope Valley encompasses many of the most amazing places in the Peak District, which is probably why it is one of the most go-to areas for visitors to the national park.
Hathersage boasts several hostelries including a haunted hotel and an old drover’s inn, some very special shops, evidence from its days as a manufacturing centre for pins and needles, associations with Charlotte Bronte and her heroine Jane Eyre and, believe it or not, the grave of one of England’s favourite outlaws, Little John. Hathersage is very close to Stanage Edge, a spectacular gritstone edge popular with walkers and climbers.
Further along the valley, the aforementioned Ladybower and Derwent Reservoirs sit atop the village of Bamford.
Castleton is situated near the bottom of the Shivering Mountain, otherwise known as Mam Tor, which shook and slid until its road collapsed (see whether you can spot the cats’ eyes embedded in topsy-turvy tarmac) and is home to the unique ornamental Blue John stone. There are four show cave, each distinctly different, and Peveril Castle, a ruined hilltop castle with the oldest lavatory in the Peak!
Photograph: Monsal Dale courtesy of Joe Parker
Thousands of people come to Monsal Head each year just to enjoy the view over and beyond an enormous railway viaduct which really upset the Victorian writer and social reformer John Ruskin. These days the trains are no more and the viaduct is a must for an exhilarating stroll, perhaps en route for the Monsal Trail (see Hassop), the glorious Monsal Dale or distant vistas.
Although Matlock Bath is not quite situated within the Peak District, it is very close by, and has enough spectacular scenery and stunning views to have the Peak District 'feel', and to warrant its inclusion here.
Definitely one of the most popular inland resorts in England, in a setting which Byron compared favourably with Switzerland. Visitor attractions are numerous and very varied, both overground and underground, not to mention a wealth of shops, Restaurants and takeaways. Matlock Bath illuminations are the highlight of autumn, with thousands of coloured bulbs reflected in the Derwent, weekend firework displays and parades of illuminated boats along the river.
Photograph: Bakewell courtesy of Joe Parker
Market towns don't get more picturesque than this! Home of the Peak Advertiser and with an unspoilt country feel, Bakewell is justifiably known as ‘the jewel in the Peak District crown’. The market is still held every Monday, drawing people from all the outlying villages, while farmers come to buy, sell and gossip at the lively agricultural and livestock market.
A delicious Bakewell Pudding (don’t call it a tart!) is a must; buy it warm to share the flaky crumbs with the ducks beside the river, or take one home for a hot pudding you’ll never forget. The River Wye flows through Bakewell below a series of bridges, and is the perfect place to sit with fish and chips, or to stroll along with an ice cream!
Photograph: The Gates to Dovedale courtesy of Chris Gilbert
Beloved of Isaac Walton, the famous stepping stones will carry you from Derbyshire into Staffordshire and vice versa. As Byron enthused: ‘Was you ever in Dovedale? I assure you there are things in Derbyshire as noble as in Greece or Switzerland’.
Ladybower and Derwent Reservoir
Photograph: Derwent Dam courtesy of Chris Gilbert
The Upper Derwent Reservoirs, which drowned two villages and where the famous Dambuster Squadron practised dropping those famous ‘bouncing bombs’. Situated near Bamford, Hope Valley, this series of dams and reservoirs provide spectacular scenery and plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities.
Photograph: Buxton by Joe Parker
Though just a fraction outside, Buxton, much like Matlock, still has the feeling of being inside the Peak District. A handsome spa town with a spa water swimming pool, feel free to top up your plastic bottles with Buxton water at St Anne’s Well in the Crescent. The lovely Victorian Opera House is close by, and a short stroll leads to the enormous record-breaking Devonshire Dome, open to visitors simply by asking at the reception desk.
Though it's hard to say which is the prettiest part of the Peak District, Edale certainly is one of the most dramatic parts – at least in terms of places in the Peak District which are accessible by road. Beyond this point, with the exception of the Snake and Woodhead Pass roads, it's pretty much walking only if you want to see the scenery!
Edale is right 'next door' to Hope Valley, and lies at the foot of Kinder Scout, the highest point in Derbyshire and serious walking country for well prepared enthusiasts. The Pennine Way links Edale with the Scottish borders but shorter rambles can be enjoyed with the help of a good map. Jacob’s Ladder does not quite lead to heaven, but it can seem like it. Thick cloud can descend quickly over these Dark Peak moors: Kinder and Bleaklow are littered with the remains of aircraft wrecks. Advice is freely available from the Information Centre between Edale station and the village.
Made famous by its suffering during an outbreak of plague in 1665/6, when the villagers put themselves into voluntary quarantine, it is easy to overlook that this is a matchless picture postcard village. A plaque marks the cottage where the plague began and the names of many victims are displayed on the houses where they lived and died.
Photograph: Hartington by Joe Parker
Given by William the Conqueror to Henry de Ferrers, Charters for a market and three-day fair followed. A picturesque village in its own right, with a duck pond and village ‘square’, visitors are unlikely to go home without a chunk of one of Hartington’s delicious cheeses. Hartington is also the gateway to beautiful scenery on both the Derbyshire and Staffordshire sides of the River Dove.
Derwent Dam courtesy of Chris Gilbert
Bakewell courtesy of Joe Parker
The Gates to Dovedale courtesy of Chris Gilbert