Top Ten Unmissables

The Peak District is absolutely crammed with amazing places to go and sights to see.  You’ll be spoilt for choice, no matter where you’re based or how long you’re here for.

It’s very hard to pick the best of the Peak District, but we feel there are some places that just have to be on your itinerary.

Have a look at our Top Ten Peak District Unmissables…

1.  Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House

The Jewel in the Crown of the Peak District, Chatsworth House and Estate offers a wonderful day out for the entire family to enjoy.  The magnificent house is set in over 1,000 acres of parkland, beautifully situated on the banks of the River Derwent.  A true feast for the senses, there are more than thirty rooms open to the public, with awe-inspiring interiors, lavish furnishings, and a world-famous collection of art.  There are also 105 acres of formal gardens, designed by Capability Brown, as well as a large woodland adventure playground and a child-friendly farmyard.  When you’ve worked up an appetite, there are a number of restaurants, cafes and tea shops throughout the estate, and no trip is complete without a visit to the award-winning Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop, located a short distance away in the pretty village of Pilsley.

The historic spa town of Buxton offers something for everyone, with stunning Georgian and Victorian architecture, beautiful parks, quirky shops, top-class theatre, an award-winning spa, museums, art galleries and fantastic dining.  For the kids there are caves to wonder at and woodland trails to explore.  Buxton is well known for its beautiful Edwardian Opera House, designed by Frank Matcham in 1903.  Located a short drive outside the town is Poole’s Cavern, a beautiful show cave formed naturally out of the limestone rock over 2 million years ago.  The Cavern is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and has been entrancing visitors since 1853.  As if all that wasn’t enough, Buxton is situated amid beautiful countryside and visitors should take the time to explore the landscape that surrounds the town.

2.  Buxton

3.  Castleton

Peveril Castle

A day in the beautiful village of Castleton should feature in the itinerary of every visitor to the Peak District.  It is surrounded by stunning scenery, nestled in the hills at the western end of the Hope Valley, and has something to offer for everyone.  For outdoor enthusiasts Castleton is the perfect gateway to Kinder Scout and Mam Tor, and its many cave systems will appeal to adventurous kids of all ages.  Visitors who prefer a gentle pace of exploration will enjoy wandering its narrow lanes, browsing the independent shops and sampling the fare in the many tea rooms, restaurants and pubs.  History lovers should explore the Norman ruins of Peveril Castle which overlook the village.  A walk up to the Castle offers visitors the chance to admire the breathtaking views over both the gritstone Dark Peak and the limestone White Peak areas of the Peak District. 

Matlock Bath, with its beautiful position on the River Derwent, is a fabulous place to base yourself.  The town itself has plenty to see and do, with shops, cafes and museums, as well as riverside walks for shady strolls.  But the reason it features so highly in our top ten is because of the numerous attractions around the town.  There are magnificent cable cars at the Heights of Abraham, which take visitors 339 metres up and across the Derwent Valley.  For younger visitors there’s the family-friendly theme park of Gulliver’s Kingdom, or steam train experiences on the Peak Rail heritage railway.  And at the fabulous Crich Tramway Village, home to the National Tramway Museum, the whole family can spend a day riding vintage trams and exploring the heritage village.

4.  Matlock Bath

Heights_of_Abraham

5.  Bakewell

The beautiful town of Bakewell, set on the River Wye, is the ancient capital of the Peak District.  It has a wealth of historic buildings, shops and restaurants, and and it’s a wonderful place to explore, with pretty riverside walks, old stone cottages, narrow lanes and hidden courtyards.  Bakewell has a long and fascinating history; its market was first established in 1254 and still takes place every Monday.  The towns also hosts one of the largest agricultural shows in the UK every August, as well as an annual Arts Festival and the Peak Literary Festival.  And no trip to Bakewell is complete without sampling some famous Bakewell Pudding, a sticky, sweet confection made of pastry, eggs, almonds and jam.  To work off the calories, the nearby Monsal Trail offers an accessible walking and cycling route out of the town into some of the most stunning scenery in the Peak District.

Haddon Hall is one of the most beautiful medieval manor houses in the whole of England, and is a must-see for any visitor to the Peak District.  Its castellated stone walls are covered with ivy and climbing roses, and its perfect setting on a hillside overlooking the River Wye is straight out of a romantic fairytale.  Parts of Haddon Hall date back to the 11th Century and it is remarkably well-preserved, with most of it unchanged since the days of Henry VIII.  The rooms offer fascinating glimpses into history, and the beautiful Elizabethan terraced garden is the perfect place for a summer stroll.  There’s also a licensed restaurant in the 17th Century stable block with a great menu when you’ve worked up an appetite.

6.  Haddon Hall

7.  Hardwick Hall

The magnificent Hardwick Hall is a leading example of an Elizabethan country house, situated in a wonderful hilltop position overlooking the Derbyshire countryside.  There are actually two halls here: the Old Hall is now ruined but fascinating to explore, while the elegant ‘New’ Hall (built in the 16th Century) has been restored to its original glory by the National Trust.  There are also extensive formal gardens, parkland with woodland trails, a lovely restaurant and a National Trust shop.  Hardwick Hall was built by Bess of Hardwick in the 1590s, and there are still many original treasures within the Hall for visitors to admire.  Outside, the impressive gardens include herbaceous borders, a vegetable garden and an orchard, as well as woodland areas and open parkland.

The bustling town of Leek, on the south-western edge of the Peak District, is known as The Queen of the Moorlands.  Leek has been a market town for hundreds of years and there are still numerous markets held weekly in the town, including food markets and craft fairs.  It’s the perfect base for exploring the stunning countryside in the Staffordshire Moorlands, situated just south of an impressive gritstone edifice made up of The Roaches, Ramshaw Rocks and Hen Cloud.  The rocks rise to 1,657 feet and are very popular with hikers, runners and climbers.  Outdoor enthusiasts will also love nearby Rudyard Lake and Tittesworth Reservoir, which both support a range of outdoor pursuits, including sailing, canoeing and fishing.

8.  Leek

9.  Kinder Scout

Kinder

At 2,087 feet high, Kinder Scout is the highest point in the Peak District and the views from its summit are awe-inspiring in the truest sense of the words.  Walking to the vast open moorland on the top of Kinder takes the visitor through a wide variety of different landscapes and perfectly illustrates the diversity of the Peak District, with mighty gritstone edges, hillside lakes, moorland streams and crashing waterfalls.  Kinder Scout is also significant in the history of hill walking in the UK, being the scene of the famous ‘Kinder Trespass’ in 1932, when over 400 peaceful protesters took to private land and joined in a mass trespass to highlight the restrictions upon walking in open country.  This led directly to legislation that allowed people to walk freely on access land, and was also a contributory factor in the creation of the National Parks, the first of which was the Peak District.

The pretty village of Eyam features on our list because of its fascinating and inspiring history.  Eyam was the site of an outbreak of the bubonic plague in the 1600s which lasted for over a year and cost the lives of at least 270 of the 350 villagers.  What is so inspiring about Eyam’s story is that the community’s rector persuaded the villagers to quarantine themselves to prevent the spread of disease to neighbouring areas.  Nobody left or entered Eyam for the next 14 months.  Supplies were brought in to the village and left on a boundary stone, with money left in exchange.  As a result, the plague was contained and did not spread to neighbouring areas, saving the lives of thousands of people.  The Boundary Stone is still standing to this day, as are many of the stone cottages inhabited by those who died of the plague, or managed to survive against the odds.

10.  Eyam

Eyam