10 top picnic spots in Derbyshire and the Peak District

Chatsworth Cascade and House Photo: Chatsworth House Trust

Chatsworth Cascade and House Photo: Chatsworth House Trust - Credit: Archant

Seek out these local beauty spots for an al fresco feast to remember

Padley Gorge

Scrambling over ancient rocks and paddling in the pleasant stream, there’s plenty to keep children entertained around Padley Gorge as Burbage Brook begins its journey downstream. Spread out the rug under a tree and you’ll be set up for the day. It can get very crowded on sunny summer days, so I’d always opt for heading out for a late picnic when it’s not one of the hottest times. If the picnic didn’t fill you completely, there are usually one or two ice cream vans within a short walk. It’s actually a lot like a day out at the beach!


A truly wonderful day out, no matter how old the members of your party are. Combine your picnic with a trip around the house, or if you have children they will love the farmyard and adventure playground. When it’s time to unleash your picnic, head down to the river and sit on the other side of the bank, enjoying the views of Chatsworth House as the rippling water adds that little something extra to your experience. There are toilet facilities not far away and plenty of nice routes around the grounds to walk off the Scotch eggs and sausage rolls.

Carsington Water

Take your bikes and a backpack full of treats to Carsington Water, a man-made attraction, but beautiful nonetheless. An ideal location for a family day out, there are toilet facilities in the visitor centre, but the real joy is out there on the bike routes that are on the level and for the whole family to enjoy. There are many places to sit down and enjoy your picnic, most of which will have great, peaceful views over Carsington Water. Keep an eye out for the wildlife as well; there are some rare birds that occupy these parts.

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Slippery Stones From the car park at Fairholmes, it’s a ten mile round walk or cycle ride around Derwent and Howden Reservoirs. The halfway point is known as Slippery Stones, an idyllic place away from traffic and where your only disturbance is likely to be the hum of an aeroplane or the waddling of a duck. Sit back on the grass bank next to the stream and enjoy the sight of the historic stone bridge and wonderful Peak District hills. It’s the perfect place for a sunny day and if you go midweek it’s quite possible you’ll be on your own up there. Make sure you eat enough to give you energy for the return journey to Fairholmes!


The southern end of Dovedale, close to Ilam, is another top spot for a great picnic. Walk up Dovedale from the car park and you’ll get to the famous stepping stones placed there in Victorian days and recently replaced due to flood damage. There are plenty of places to spread out by the river and a few benches as well if the ground is too wet. Limestone hills tower above you here; Dovedale was once part of a tropical sea and the rocks were formed over time as dead sea creatures sank to the bottom of the ocean. Their fossils are all around you.

Lathkill Dale

Set out from the delightful village of Monyash and walk into Lathkill Dale, one of the most sublimely pretty parts of the Peak District. There’s plenty of space to spread out in this valley hemmed in by incredible limestone features. And, of course, the village has a store and a pub in case you run out of crisps, pop, dips and any other picnic essentials. Your trip here should be part of an action packed day – there is a great park in Monyash and the biking potential on the nearby Tissington Trail is enormous!

Monsal Head

Natural beauty meets industrial heritage at Monsal Head, where the old train line passes through tunnels built in the Victorian Age and out into the limestone-specked Monsal Dale. Today the disused train line is used for walking and cycling as the Monsal Trail and it’s well worth working up an appetite by taking a stroll – either way from Monsal Head along the trail leads to a tunnel and great views. But for the best place to enjoy your picnic, walk down to the riverside, where there are large fields; here you can choose your spot with the old, historic railway viaduct towering overhead.

Linacre Woods

Within easy reach of Chesterfield, there are simple walks to enjoy by the majestic trees and around the reservoirs at Linacre Woods. You’ll find the signage straightforward to use and the lengths are of varying size, so there’s something for everyone. Popular with dog walkers and families, there are some lovely settings at Linacre Woods for you to host your al fresco treat. Although it’s not far away from the town, you get a real feeling of being in the middle of nowhere and you can forget about time when you’re in Linacre Woods.


An ample car park and toilet facilities add to the appeal of a walk in the woods around Langsett. But you can rest assured that the scenery is something special as well, with huge trees towering all around the reservoir. It makes for a lovely circular walk and there’s plenty of wildlife to spot on the way. Spread out your rug in the middle of the trees and enjoy lying down and gazing up at the canopy above you. Just make sure you don’t get any pine cones under the rug. That can be very uncomfortable.


A delightful village with an old hall, cottages and even a village green with duck pond, Tissington is as much a picture-postcard country village as you’re likely to get. Spending a day in Tissington is like stepping back in time, back to the days of Downton Abbey. Choose from any number of idyllic locations to open up your ginger beer, and while away the time people watching and imagining what it would have been like back in the day. Tissington, of course, lends its name to the Tissington Trail, so when you’ve filled up on cucumber sandwiches you can work it off by biking to Ashbourne and back. Or pop to the tearooms for a cake.