Take a spectacular journey through underground caverns, enjoy exhilarating ridge-top walks, and visit sumptuous stately homes and picturesque villages on a Peak District break
Why visit the Peak District?
The Peak District National Park covers 555 square miles of breathtaking countryside, featuring vast plateaus, dramatic rocky ridges, wild unspoilt moorland and deep sheltered valleys. It covers parts of Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire and is peppered with picturesque villages and bustling market towns.
It is a wonderful area to explore on foot and offers a wide variety of walking, from paths such as the High Peak and Tissington Trails, which run along disused railway lines and are wheelchair and buggy-friendly, to the spectacular Pennine Way. Cyclists will be delighted with the range of routes available, from traffic-free sections to more challenging multi-terrain tracks.
Peak District weekend breaks are ideal for lovers of the great outdoors. Unleash your inner adventurer, grab a group of friends and try one of the many activities on offer. From paragliding to sailing and horse riding to fell running, you’ll find plenty of centres in the park to help get you started. The area is also immensely popular for caving and climbing, and boasts internationally famous climbing routes such as Stanage Edge.
The Peak District’s caves and caverns are spectacular. Take the kids underground to see the stunning show caves of Blue John Cavern near Castleton and the vast limestone caverns of Poole’s Cavern & Buxton Country Park. Other family attractions in the area include Gulliver’s Kingdom in Matlock and the Peak Wildlife Park near Leek.
If you enjoy the grandeur of historic houses, the Peak District has some magnificent examples, including Haddon Hall and Chatsworth House, where you can see the stunning State Rooms and one of Europe’s most important art collections, as well as beautiful gardens and giant water features.
The Peak District also has some wonderful industrial heritage, including Richard Arkwright’s Cromford Mill and the Peak District Lead Mining Museum. Alternatively, climb aboard one of the area’s heritage railways for a nostalgic journey through the countryside.
Take time to explore the Peak District’s towns, which are full of character and history. The market town of Bakewell is set on the river Wye and is full of independent shops, and welcoming cafes selling its signature dish – the delicious Bakewell tart. Buxton is renowned for its beautiful Georgian architecture, natural spring water and delightful Pavilion Gardens. It’s great for shopping, boasting a wide selection of independent boutiques and popular high street brands, and is home to some wonderful eateries. You can also enjoy a varied programme of events at the Buxton Opera House and the Pavilion Arts Centre.
A brief history
At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a growing call for the general public to be able to gain access to the countryside for recreational purposes. Many landowners at the time were keen to preserve their hunting and fishing rights leaving the public from the nearby towns little access to natural areas. Growing unrest led to a mass trespass on Kinder Scout in the Peak District in April 1932, to highlight the fact that walkers were denied the right to access open country. Violent scuffles broke out between protesters and local gamekeepers and five people were arrested. Shortly afterwards, the Standing Committee on National Parks (SCNP) was formed to lobby the government and to argue the case for national parks, and by 1949, the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act was passed. The Peak District was designated the country’s first National Park in 1951.
When is a good time to visit the Peak District?
The area has a varied range of festivals and events taking place throughout the year so why not plan your Peak District short break to coincide with the celebrations?
The traditional custom of well dressing, where communities come together to create living art installations from natural materials, takes place in over 80 towns and villages in the Peak District between May and September, and is a popular attraction for both visitors and locals. Another traditional custom is the annual Royal Shrovetide Football Match, held in Ashbourne. Here you can enjoy watching two teams comprised of several thousand players compete with a cork-filled football on a pitch with goals three miles apart!
Ramblers can enjoy hundreds of walking events, while cyclists will love the Eroica Britannia Festival, an increasingly popular cycling festival held in the heart of the Peak District in June.
You’ll find music festivals to suit all tastes with the Big Session, featuring the cream of English folk musicians, kicking off proceedings in Buxton in May. The Buxton Festival is one of the country’s biggest classical music, arts and literary festivals and is a real treat for opera lovers, while the Buxton Fringe Festival features comedy, dance, music and theatre. Both take place in July. In August, pop music fans can enjoy the Y Not Festival held in the beautiful surroundings of Pikehall. Past headliners have included Primal Scream, Snoop Dogg and Razorlight.
The Great Peak District Fair & Buxton Beer Festival is a celebration of the area’s wonderful local produce and takes place in October. It features food and craft stalls as well as a wide range of activities and entertainment for all the family.
By rail: There are regular mainline train services to the towns and cities neighbouring the Peak District (Derby, Sheffield, Barnsley, Manchester, Macclesfield, Stoke-on-Trent), which connect to local services.
By bus: You can travel to towns and cities on the edge of the Peak District (see above) by bus or coach, then pick up local services. The Transpeak bus service runs through the heart of the Peak District from Derby and Manchester.
By air: Both Manchester Airport and East Midlands Airport have links to the Peak District.
By bike: There is an expanding traffic-free cycle network.
By road: If you’re travelling to the Peaks by road, many A-roads enter the area via either the M6 (to the west of the district) or the M1 (to the east of the district).
Take a look at our hotels in the Peak District to experience the amazing architecture and open spaces for yourself.