Region In Focus: Peak District

The Peak District is an upland area of Northern England, in the county of Derbyshire, similar to the Yorkshire Dales (but probably less well known).

Like the Dales it offers stunning views of upland sheep country, dry stone walls and pretty villages nestling in valleys.

Here, then, is our guide >>>

The Peak District: The Best 20 Things to Do And See

1. Dovedale

By Rob Bendall, Attribution,

Near to Ashbourne is the popular Dovedale, a pretty valley cut by the River Dove, popular with walkers.

The land is now owned by the National Trust and so is more accessible than many of the local farmland.

2. Eyam

Boundary Stone, Eyam.jpg
Smb1001Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Eyam is a village with a sad, but heroic, background.

In 1665 the bubonic plague was carried into the village on a delivery of cloth.

Rather than allow this to spread to other nearby villages, the residents decided to not to leave and cut themselves off entirely despite the high probability of them catching the disease.

Pictured is the Boundary Stone, where money – soaked in vinegar to kill any infection – was placed to buy food and medicine during the plague.

3. Bakewell

Bakewell pudding.JPG
By WarofdreamsWarofdreams, CC BY 2.5, Link

Bakewell is probably the heart of the Peak District.

A pretty country town on the River Wye, it gives its name to the locally made Bakewell Pudding (which is also known, but not here, as Bakewell tart), pictured here.

Jane Austen started at the central Rutland Arms Hotel and the town is also considered by most experts to be Lampton in Pride And Prejudice.

4. Matlock

Dale Road Matlock August 2010.jpg
By RocknrollmancerOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

This now thriving large village was once a small hamlet, until thermal springs were discovered in the late 1700s, and a road cut through the nearby Scarthin Nick in 1818.

It gained a reputation during the Victorian era as a fashionable spa town – many of the town’s stone built houses are from that time.

5. Arkwright’s Cromford Mill

Cromford mill two 1995.jpg
By chevin – Own work, Public Domain, Link

Cromford Mill, a spinning mill opened in 1771 by Richard Arkwright, is considered to be the world first successful factory.

Using the new flying shuttle and spinning jenny technology it employed over 200 people (mainly women and children).

It is now a World Heritage Site and is open to the public.

6. Heights of Abraham

The Heights of Abraham Cable Cars.jpeg
By TheHeightsofAbrahamOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

The rather majestically named heights Of Abraham is a hilltop park on Masson hill, overlooking Matlock.

It can be accessed by a popular Gondola cable car from the village and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area.

7. Chatsworth House

Large country house by river with wooded hillside beyond
By Rob Bendall, Attribution, Link

One of great stately homes of Britain, Chatsworth is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire and home to the Cavendish family since 1549.

It was also an inexcusable omission from our post ‘The Best Stately Homes Of England’ (as many of you pointed out).

8. Ashbourne

Ball turned up Ash Wednesday 2011.jpg
By Adrian Roebuck at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Known as the ‘Gateway to the Peak District’ this market town is also famous for its annual Shroveside football match.

This match – also known as hugball – is over 1000 years old and involves a ‘pitch’ 3 miles wide (basically the whole village).

A goal is scored by tapping the specially made ball in the opposition’s goal three times – the Up’Ards and Down’Ards goal being on the Easta nd west sides of the village.

9. Edensor

Edensor - - 671.jpg
By Paul Ashwin, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Edensor is an estate village, used by workers on the nearby Chatsworth estate.

A nice stop after a visit to the stately home.

10. Edale

Edale Valley.JPG
By AtomvizOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

This pretty village’s main claim to fame is it being the start/finish of the Pennine Way, probably the most famous walk in Britain.

It’s also a good place to start a walk to Kinder Scout (see later).

11. Hathersage

Alternative text
By Dave Bevis, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Another Peak District spot with a literary heritage.

Charlotte Brontë stayed at the Hathersage vicarage while she was writing Jane Eyre. She based many of the novel’s locations on local landmarks – “Thornfield Hall” is widely accepted to be North Lees Hall, on the outskirts of Hathersage (pictured).

Eyre was the name of a local family.

12. Kinder Scout

By Originally uploaded by Dave59 (Transferred by Hogweard) – Originally uploaded on en.wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, Link

The highest part of the Peak District this moorland plateau is a great place for breathtaking views (weather dependent).

On a clear day you can see the mountains of Snowdonia through to the outskirts of Manchester.

13. Mam Tor

Mam Tor Castleton.jpg
By Rob Bendall, Attribution, Link

Mam Tor (or ‘mother hill’) is so called due to the many smaller hills formed from beneath it due to landslips.

These frequent landslips of shale give it its alternative ‘Shivering Mountain’ name.

It’s a popular place for hanggliders to launch themselves into the air.

14. Buxton

By Chris Harris – [1], Public Domain, Link

Another spa town made popular by the Victorians, Buxton is still famous for its local water (which can be bought all over the UK).

Its watery heritage is celebrated by its annual well dressing ceremony

15. Peveril Castle

A stone tower with a wall running off to the right standing on top of a drop into a gorge. There are hills in the background.
By Darren Copley from Sheffield – Peveril Castle, Castleton, CC BY 2.0, Link

Peveril Castle (also Castleton Castle or Peak Castle) is a ruined 11th-century castle overlooking the Hope Valley near Castleton.

It was part of the feudal barony of William Peverel, and was founded in the late 11th century.

It’s a great example of the many medieval castles that once dotted the upland areas of England.

16. Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall.jpg
By Rob Bendall, Attribution, Link

Described by the journalist Simon Jenkins as “the most perfect house to survive from the middle ages” Haddon Hall is everything you’d expect from a medieval country house.

You can almost hear the sounds of the banquets and revelries in the banqueting hall, unchanged since Tudor times.

For the film buffs amongst you Haddon hall was used extensively in the film Elizabeth and as Thornfield Hall in the 2011 film of Jane Eyre. It was also used in 1986 as Prince Humperdinck’s castle in cult film The Princess Bride.

17. Castleton

Castleton, Derbyshire - - 682874.jpg
By Phillip Perry, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

A pretty village at the head of Hope valley, overlooked by Peverill Castle and Mam Tor featured earlier.

A nice place for walkers to base themselves and for cavers to explore the local Blue John, Speedwell, Treak Cliff and Peak Caverns.

18. Nine Ladies Stone Circle

Nine Ladies 02.jpg
By PaleCloudedWhiteOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

This Bronze Age stone circle on Stanton Moor believed to depict nine ladies turned to stone as a penalty for dancing on a Sunday.

19. Stanage Edge

By Rob Bendall, Attribution, Link

This rock escapement (it means stone edge) near Haversage is a haven for climbers from all over the UK.

It’s also home to the Stanage Struggle, an annual fell walking race up and down the escarpment.

20. Longdendale Trail

Longdendale trail.jpg
By Daniel P Short, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

This is one for those who’d love to get out into the area for a walk, but don’t fancy all the hill walking on offer.

The old Woodhead railway line – part of an old Manchester to Sheffield route – has now been turned into a (flat) path.

Easy walking for young and old alike.