Situated in the heart of the country, the Peak District is Britain’s original National Park. It is split into two main areas: the rugged Dark Peak, which is dominated by heather moorland and dramatic gritstone edges, and the gentler White Peak, which consists of rolling limestone dales and winding river valleys.
The Peak District offers 555 square miles (1,435 km) of open countryside to explore in an area about the size of Greater London, so you’ll never be short of stunning walks through breath-taking landscapes. Couple this with vibrant villages, charming market towns, fascinating history and amazing attractions, and you’ll find something for everyone.
Pack your camera, pull on your boots and get snap happy at these 10 iconic Peak District beauty spots…
At 2,087ft above sea level, Kinder Scout offers some of the most Insta-worthy views in the country. This magnificent moorland plateau is the highest point in the National Park and is home to some of the most challenging walks in the area. Don’t miss a photo opportunity at Kinder Downfall - the tallest waterfall in the Peak District - and look out for the mysterious Mermaid’s Pool alongside interesting rock formations such as Pym’s Chair and the Boxing Gloves.
Overlooking Ladybower Reservoir, this dramatic gritstone overhang is a magnet for outdoor-lovers. It’s surrounded by captivating countryside with views of water, woodland and moorland. Fancy relaxing? Take a picnic, get comfy and watch the sun go down; it’s one of the best places to view the sunset in the whole of the National Park!
One of the most photographed stretches of road in the UK, Winnats Pass is a photographer’s paradise in every season. Rise early for dramatic cloud inversions, capture misty winter mornings and watch glorious summer sunsets. The name ‘Winnats’ is short for 'Windygates', and on a blustery day you’ll see exactly how it earned its name! Amazingly, the hill pass and limestone gorge was once part of a tropical sea and its unique landscape was formed over millions of years.
If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear that you were in the French Dordogne while walking by the water at Dovedale. Traverse the famous stepping stones that have helped people across the river since the beginning of the 19th century, then rest on the grassy banks with an ice cream. Don’t miss a scramble to the top of Thorpe Cloud, a limestone reef knoll, for picturesque views across the Staffordshire and Derbyshire countryside.
Battered and shaped by the wind for thousands of years, the weird and wonderful rock formations of The Roaches will make you feel as though you’re in a setting from Game of Thrones. Wander past 'Ramshaw Rocks', famous for its 'Winking Man' rock formation, and clamber near 'Hen Cloud' for inspiring views. On a clear day you’ll be able to see Cheshire, Lancashire and even Mount Snowdon in Wales!
Film-lovers shouldn’t miss a chance to recreate a famous Hollywood movie moment on a visit to this rugged gritstone edge. It found fame as the scenic spot where Elizabeth Bennet (played by Keira Knightley) daydreamed of dashing Mr Darcy (played by Matthew Macfadyen) in the 2005 blockbuster Pride and Prejudice. Stretching for around four miles, Stanage Edge is also known for its brilliant walks with stunning views, and challenging climbing routes.
Mam Tor, meaning ‘Mother Hill’, is a 517-metre high hill near the chocolate-box Peak District village of Castleton. Locals call it the ‘Shivering Mountain’ because a series of mini landslides have created a range of ‘mini hills’ at its base. One of the Peak District’s most famous walks – the Great Ridge – starts from here and stretches to Lose Hill following a hilltop path. Hikers are rewarded with incredible views over the Edale Valley to Kinder Scout and the Derwent Moors.
England’s first long-distance National Trail, the Pennine Way, starts in the Peak District village of Edale. The route stretches all the way to the Scottish Borders, a distance of 268 miles in total! Of course, you don’t need to walk the full stretch and the short climb up the stepped route of Jacob’s Ladder is rewarded with an amazing vista. There are many circular walks nearby and in 2019 Edale was voted the most popular place to start a walk in the UK, according to the Ordnance Survey (OS).
Rising out of the Manifold Valley like a giant fang, the entrance to Thor's Cave is 10 metres in diameter and can be spotted from miles away. From inside, you can soak up views of the rolling dales of the White Peak. History-lovers, listen-up: Thor’s Cave is said to have been inhabited as long as 10,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest sites of human activity in the Peak!
There’s more to the Peak District National Park than glorious countryside. Set on the banks of the River Derwent, Chatsworth is the magnificent home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. It’s been home to the Cavendish family since the 1550s – that’s 16 generations – and the house has over 30 rooms to explore alongside hundreds of acres of parkland and gardens.
Find out more about things to do and what to see in the Peak District at www.visitpeakdistrict.com
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- Amy Norton