Baslow Edge at sunset courtesy of Joe Parker
Derwent Edge by Chris Gilbert
Peak District Activities
by Penny Bunting
See also our Things to do in The Peak District guide.
The Peak District is an ideal destination for an active holiday, with varied landscapes of rugged peaks, river valleys, moors, lakes and woodlands that are perfect for all sorts of outdoor adventures.
Walking keeps you fit, is suitable for all ages – and it’s free! There are countless options for hikes through beautiful and dramatic Peak District countryside, with routes for all abilities.
The National Trust’s Longshaw Estate offers easy trails around the estate’s parkland, meadows, ponds and ancient woodland. Or opt for a longer hike around Padley Gorge, Higger Tor, or the Iron-Age hillfort at Carl Wark.
Kinder Scout, at 636 metres, is the highest point in the Peak District. The challenging, eight-mile circular walk from Edale takes you to the summit via Jacob’s Ladder – part of the Pennine Way and named after Jacob Marshall, a Dark Peak farmer. In the 18th century, he cut steps into the hillside to make it easier to climb – and many walkers today are grateful to Mr Marshall for easing their way up the mountain.
Castleton courtesy of Joe Parker
Another popular option for those with a head for heights is Mam Tor, followed by an exhilarating walk along the Great Ridge. This route offers wonderful views of the Hope and Edale valleys. Or, for equally fine views, head west from Mam Tor along Rushup Edge. The nearby picturesque village of Castleton has plenty of refreshment options – and you could also visit one of the fascinating caves while you’re there.
There are enough walks along the Peak District’s gritstone edges to keep you busy for a week or more. Try a stroll along fabulous Froggatt Edge and look out for an ancient stone circle along the way; marvel at the massive Eagle Stone on Baslow Edge; clamber about on the Three Ships stones at Birchen Edge; and along Stanage Edge, see if you can spot the rock that Keira Knightley perched on in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice.
Cycling is a wonderful way to enjoy the countryside and get some exercise at the same time – and there are lots of safe, traffic-free cycling trails to explore in the Peak District. This is a hilly region and there are plenty of off-road mountain bike routes for experienced cyclists – but there are also many easy paths that are ideal for families.
The Monsal Trail is a flat, traffic-free route along a disused railway line that goes through several long – but well-lit – tunnels en route from Bakewell to Blackwell Mill at Chee Dale.
Or try the Tissington Trail, from Parsley Hay to Ashbourne. This route takes in the picturesque village of Tissington, with its fabulous 17th century hall.
Cycle hire is available at Hassop Station and Parsley Hay.
The Monsal Trail passing Hassop Station
Hunt for treasure If you have kids in tow, turn a walk into an adventure with geocaching – a treasure hunt that follows clues and directions to find prizes in secret hiding places. In the Peak District, there are hundreds of hidden caches – including at Lathkill, Monsal Dale, Stanton Moor and Robin Hood’s Stride. When you locate a geocache, you’ll find a small container holding a notepad and pencil (to log your find) and often a small ‘treasure’ to take away, such as marbles or other small toys. You must replace the prize with an item of equal value – so remember to carry a few trinkets in your pockets. If you don’t want the prize, just leave it for the next treasure-hunter to find. See www.geocaching.com for more information. Making a splash To stay cool while being active, head for the water! There are indoor pools at Bakewell and Matlock, or – for a swim with a view – book a session at the open-air lido in Hathersage.
Open-air lido in Hathersage
If you’d rather just dip a toe in the water, there are lots of places for a paddle – and kids, in particular, will love messing about in the water. Try Dovedale, with its wonderful stepping stones, or Padley Gorge.For a different kind of paddling, how about kayaking? Carsington Water is a good place for beginners, with ‘sit-on-top’ kayaks that are virtually unsinkable. These offer a safe option for anyone without experience, and are ideal for children. Wetsuits and life-jackets are included in the price of kayak hire, and there’s a café at the visitor centre for that all-important post-paddle hot chocolate!
Dovedale courtesy of Chris Gilbert