Peak District sunset

A local's guide to the Peak District, UK

travel guide

The Peak District was recently voted the fourth best national park in Europe in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards. It has everything you would expect from a world class national park from stunning scenery to fascinating historical sites and extensive walking, hiking and cycling routes. Here are some of my favourite parts of the Peak District, along with some helpful information for your visit.

Hope Valley: the best walks and caves in the Peak District

Landscape view of Hope Valley in Peak District during autumn sunset.

The Hope Valley is a particularly beautiful part of the Peak District. Hope is a pretty village to explore and a wonderful place to visit during a Peak District weekend break. Nearby Castleton is one of the most beautifully situated villages in the Peak District and the perfect base for some of the best walks in Derbyshire.

Climb the steep steps up to the atmospheric ruins of Peveril Castle. For a longer walk, Mam Tor has stunning views of the National Park, including the photogenic Winnats Pass. As one of the most-loved ridge walks in the Peak District, you can see all the way to Manchester on a clear day.

Castleton is the only place in the world where Blue John, a semi-precious stone, unique to Derbyshire and the Peak District can be found. There are various caverns to explore such as Speedwell Cavern which features an underground boat ride to the eerie ‘Bottomless Pit’.

The Monsal Trail: great for walking and cycling in the Peak District

Monsal Dale in the Peak District on a misty autumn morning.

The Monsal Trail is a 8.5 mile, traffic-free route for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users through some of the Peak District’s most spectacular limestone dales. It runs from Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale to Bakewell.

The trail is on an old railway line so is very accessible. You can even walk through the old train tunnels which are well lit. There’s a large pay and display car park at Hassop Station where you can also rent bikes, and relax in their extensive café facilities. There’s also a small children’s play area. From Hassop Station you can easily walk to Bakewell in one direction (just over a mile and a half) or the magnificent views at Monsal Viaduct (2 miles).

Bakewell: best base for exploring the Peak District

A typical house in Bakewell, Peak District

Nearby Bakewell is a pretty market town well worth exploring. It is rumoured that Jane Austen wrote and based Pride and Prejudice whilst staying at The Rutland Arms. Feed the ducks during a riverside stroll. Mooch around the local shops and then take home a Bakewell pudding. Numerous bakeries sell them, but The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop is often regarded as the best. Takeaway or enjoy inside or in their sunny courtyard.

Country houses and castles in the Peak District

The historic Chatsworth House in Nottinghamshire

Chatsworth House is often described as the jewel of the Peak District and is probably my favourite place on earth. Jane Austen is believed to have based her idea of Pemberley on Chatsworth House.

Chatsworth has extensive, exquisite interiors, which are breathtakingly beautiful all year round, but something truly magical when the house is dressed for Christmas. The 105-acre gardens are equally impressive. Famous for their rich history, there is something for everyone.

You could easily spend the whole day exploring Chatsworth. Various walks can be done around the estate, my favourite is up to the Hunting Tower for stunning views of the estate. The estate’s award-winning farm shop at nearby Pilsley is also worth a visit.

Where to eat (and drink) in the Peak District

The Bulls Head pub in Ashford in the Water

The Peak District has a wealth of great independent restaurants. For fine dining, The Peacock at Rowsley and Fischer’s of Baslow Hall both have excellent reputations locally.

Make sure you check out The Grasshopper Café for quality coffees, locally sourced food and their pretty garden. They are especially famous for their grilled cheese sandwiches (e.g. the Brooklyn is made from Welbeck sourdough, Harrington’s mature cheddar, American mustard and pastrami) and their homemade cinnamon waffles.

If you’ve been out walking, nothing beats that first cold drink at the pub afterwards! The Peak District has a plethora of cosy, traditional pubs - a favourite is the Bulls Head in Ashford in the Water. There are also numerous traditional pubs in Castleton that welcome both muddy boots and dogs. For instance try The George, an old country inn with a cosy bar and hearty pub grub. Their beer garden has stunning views of the surrounding scenery.

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Molly Scott

Author - Molly Scott

Molly Scott is a Derbyshire blogger at Lovely Local Indie who helps locals and visitors to the Peak District find the very best independents across Derbyshire to eat, drink and stay at.

Last Updated September 10, 2021

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