Visiting the Peak District, UK (Hometown Series)
Intro: Through the hometown series, we have traveled to big cities and small towns across the globe as travel bloggers share with us why their hometown should be on our bucket lists! We have explored the famous waterfall destination of Niagara Falls, Ontario, the small town of Russellville, Arkansas, Virginia Beach, Delhi in India, Utrecht in the Netherlands, and my own small hometown of Herkimer, New York. Next we will head over to the United Kingdom as Molly from Lovely Local Indie takes us to her hometown region of the Peak District.
Situated in the East Midlands, the Peak District is an area of outstanding natural beauty. The national park was recently voted the fourth best in Europe in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards. The region has everything you would expect from a world class national park from stunning scenery to extensive walking, hiking and cycling routes. But there is so much more to discover, from picture perfect quaint little towns and villages to truly incredible places to eat and drink.
Things to do in the Peak District
Hiking and biking
There are numerous options for walkers and cyclists in the Peak District. For an easy walk with great refreshments, the Monsal Trail, 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. The trail is on an old railway line so is very accessible, even for pushchairs. The well-lit tunnels are a unique feature which children may especially enjoy the adventure of.
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).
Dovedale is an iconic Peak District spot. It does get incredibly busy at peak times. But, if you can visit early, on a slightly grey day or off season, it’s an amazing place to be. Park at the pay and display Dovedale car park (where there’s often an ice cream van) and enjoy the stepping stones across the river. If you’re feeling energetic walk up Thorpe Cloud.
An easier walk is along the river to Milldale, a little hamlet with little counter serving up refreshments. There are also some free public toilets here. It’s roughly three miles from Dovedale to Milldale so just under an hour at a brisk pace.
Explore the fascinating history of Eyam
Derbyshire is often credited as the birthplace of the industrial revolution and has a rich industrial heritage. There are mills, factories and railways to explore. There’s also the picturesque village of Eyam which has a gruesome history as the ‘plague village’.
There’s a small but interesting museum, wander around the pretty village, or undertake a more demanding hike in the surrounding scenery. Then refresh at one of the excellent cafés. I particularly like the Village Green and the courtyard at The Coolstone has a lovely, chilled family friendly vibe. Even dogs are welcome.
Castles and country houses
Chatsworth House is often described as the jewel of the Peak District and is probably my favorite place on earth. You could spend days just exploring the beautiful gardens or parklands. The farmyard and playground is brilliant for children, as is the cascade. The house itself is a treasure trove of historic artifacts. Even the estate farm shop is exquisite.
But there’s a multitude of other historic houses and castles to visit. Most with exquisite gardens and parklands. I particularly recommend the gardens at Thornbridge Hall which are smaller but just as beautiful. It has a slightly alternative vibe and is great for children who’ll no doubt love their famous rubber duck fountain.
Further afield, Bolsover Castle has lots for kids. If you’re in the National Trust you’ll get excellent value from your membership in Derbyshire. Kedleston Hall, Hardwick Hall, Calke Abbey and Sudbury Hall are all excellent days out with or without kids and are less than an hour from the center of the Peak District.
Picture perfect villages
There are numerous picture perfect, chocolate box villages across Derbyshire and the Peak District. Castleton in the Hope Valley is often quoted as being the fourth most instagramable village in the UK. But also check out Ashford-in-the-Water, Edale, Eyam and the pretty market town of Bakewell.
The Hope Valley is a particularly beautiful part of the Peak District. Hope is a pretty village to explore. Check out The Grasshopper Café for quality coffees, delicious food and their pretty garden. Castleton is also worth a wander round the shops and coffee and cake. It’s also a great base for walking. You can walk up to Mam Tor for a brilliant view of the surrounding countryside. Or explore the caves and caverns. Then relax in one of the cozy, traditional pubs.
Where to eat in the Peak District
The Peak District has a wealth of great independent restaurants. From exquisite fine dining to amazing street food (e.g. at Haddon Hall’s regular Mercatum).There are numerous traditional, country inns and pubs. Here’s my guide to the best fifteen cozy pubs in Derbyshire and the Peak District.
Check out the local delicacies of Bakewell pudding (definitely not tart), delicious Derbyshire oatcakes, or Hartington stilton.
Where to stay in the Peak District
There is a full range of family friendly accommodation in both Derbyshire and the Peak District. From the simplest of campsites to quirky shepherd’s huts to luxury boutique country houses to family friendly woodland lodges. I’d recommend the Peak Edge Hotel.
About the Author
Molly Scott blogs about Derbyshire and the Peak District at Lovely Local Indie. Check out her insider guides and the best hidden gems.
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