The Peak District is a favourite destination for many, considered to be one of Britain’s best natural playgrounds
Things To Do
Take in the views of the Peak District on two wheels; there are many off-road cycle tracks, especially around the Upper Derwent Valley reservoirs, which were used as the real-life testing ground and film set for The Dambusters. There’s cycle hire available at the Visitor Centre, close to the Derwent Reservoir. A great circular ten-mile ride from the Visitor Centre includes the banks of both Derwent and Howden Reservoirs.
Make a start on the Pennine Way, beginning (or ending) as it does from the pretty village of Edale. It begins with virtually level ground and just the gentlest of climbs for the first couple of miles – and offering magnificent views – before you really have to knuckle down to some harsh slopes at Jacob’s Ladder.
Attend the opera at Buxton where you can see any number of classics in addition to lesser-known works. The opera house at Buxton is considered one of the finest in the country.
Go underground by visiting any number of caverns, many of them situated around Castleton. Each one offers something slightly different: Peak Cavern, affectionately known by locals as The Devil’s Arse, is a completely natural hole and is the only one accessed from the village; Speedwell Cavern includes an underground canal where visitors can take a boat trip through the cave; while both Treak Cliff Cavern and Blue John Cavern offer impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
For fine dining outdoors in the Peak District, visit Chatsworth House and also the award-winning Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop in Pilsley to stock up on some picnic fare then spread out a rug and enjoy an al fresco lunch in the Chatsworth Estate grounds – it was voted Britain’s best heritage picnic place in 2014.
Being virtually slap-bang in the centre of England, access to the Peak District is relatively straight forward, with the M6 and M1 running north to south either side of the national park. Junction 29 off the M1, through Chesterfield to Bakewell is one of the straighter routes while Junction 26 through Matlock is really quite twisty with an awful lot of ‘up and down dale’; it’s less suitable for caravans.
From the west, one of the quickest routes to Buxton is Junction 15 off the M6 and the A53 via Leek, although the A537 from Macclesfield is arguably ‘prettier’ but twisty.
For Dove Dale and the very southern quarter of the national park, the A515 through Ashbourne offers a relatively easy route into the area.
Few routes within the area are inadvisable when towing, except Winnats Pass between Sparrowpit and Castleton – ‘vans should approach the Hope Valley from the east along the A6187 – and Mam Tor to Edale. Here, ‘vans should approach the Edale Valley carefully (it’s narrow) via Hope. Snake Pass (A57) and Woodhead Pass (A628) are usable (with care) when towing during the summer, but during the winter months they are often closed in bad weather and are worth avoiding.
Roads around the Upper Derwent Reservoirs are closed at weekends and Bank Holiday Mondays to all motorised traffic.