The Peak District

The Peak District National Park was created in 1951, the first national park in the UK. Walking in the Peak District can be quite varied, with the more gentle limestone dales of the White Peak and the higher, gritstone moors of the Dark Peak, meaning there’s something for everyone.

If you’ve reached this website you’re probably thinking of walking in the Peak District. Despite being close to the cities of Sheffield and Manchester, the Peak District is noteworthy for being the UK’s first National Park. The park covers 555 square miles (1,438 square kilometres), and is mostly situated in the county of Derbyshire. It also covers parts of Yorkshire, Staffordshire, and Cheshire. However, it’s easy to get away from the crowds and take in some peace and quiet. You can find the Peak District National Park website here.

Walking in the Peak District can be varied as it incorporates two quite different areas. These are known as the White Peak and the Dark Peak, after the dominant rock types that can be found in the park.

The White Peak generally covers most of the southern parts of the Peak District., and is known for its high limestone plateau. Steep dales cut by glacial meltwater intervene at regular intervals, leaving a dramatic landscape.  Ancient dry stone walls separate fields,  whilst the limestone rivers and streams encourage a wide range of species.  The walking is more gentle than the Dark Park, although there are sometimes short but steep climbs to enter or leave the dales. Throughout the White Peak you’ll find numerous picturesque villages, many of which have local cafés and pubs perfect for those with weary legs! The town of Bakewell is the main administrative town for the area, due to its location in the centre of the national park.

Elsewhere,  walking in the Peak District  can be the complete opposite. High, desolate moorlands with outcrops of gritstone dominate the landscape. These rise to approx. 2000ft/600m, full of heather that blooms a vibrant purple in the late summer.  You often access the moorlands via steep sided ‘cloughs’, and gritstone edges are prominent throughout.  It’s hard to believe that you can get such wilderness, despite being so close to the big cities of Sheffield and Manchester.

The spectacular Vale of Edale, the start of the Pennine Way,  is possibly the highlight of the Dark Peak.  Many visitors head to the valley due to the brooding Kinder Scout and it’s beautiful moors. Meanwhile, the magnificent ‘Great Ridge’ offers a spectacular walk between the peaks of Mam Tor and Lose Hill.

Nearby, the reservoirs of Ladybower, Upper Derwent and Howden offer great walking and cycling. The Upper Derwent is internationally famous for being the test site for the bouncing bomb featured in the film ‘Dambusters’. Whilst the walking is of a more challenging nature, easier paths are easily available, often taking you to great viewpoints.