Of the UK’s 15 designated national parks, it’s the Peak District which holds the distinction of being the first – formed in 1951.

The Peak, which covers large swathes of Derbyshire, is often referred to as ‘the people’s park’, and for good reason. This is an area shaped by farmers, miners and quarrymen over millennia; its landscapes fought for by the brave Kinder trespasses of the 1930s who defended their right to roam.

Mam Tor, Kinder Scout, Winnats Pass, Chrome Hill, Bamford Edge, Stanage Edge, Curbar Edge, Monsal Head… people flock from far and wide to take in Derbyshire’s stunning and varied natural beauty.

Indeed, its breathtaking vistas and charm have inspired some of our great authors, with the likes of Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, D.H. Lawrence and Jane Austen all compelled to incorporate aspects of our county into some of the all-time classics.

Mr Darcy’s Pemberley, for example, is widely accepted as being based on Derbyshire’s Chatsworth House in the latter’s Pride and Prejudice. 

This association – and inspiration – is unsurprising, given Austen is believed to have written at least parts of her famed novel whilst staying at the Rutland Arms in nearby Bakewell. 

The Rutland Arms still exists, where a plaque proudly commemorates its connection to an all-time literary great. 

Serendipitously, the 2005 movie adaptation, featuring Keira Knightley and Judi Dench amongst others, saw large parts filmed in Derbyshire including, fittingly, at Chatsworth.

It’s easy to pigeonhole Derbyshire as a county of beauty – which, of course, it is – but look beneath the surface and you’ll find much more than that.

This is a county that has given the world so much and has, for centuries, blazed a trail for others to follow.

Derbyshire was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, with Derby’s Silk Mill, now the award-winning Museum of Making, home to the world’s first factory.

Derby Arboretum has the distinction of being England’s first public park and is believed to have inspired the design of New York’s iconic Central Park.

Then, there’s the people and places which make this part of the world truly unique.

Head to any of Derbyshire’s famed villages or historic towns – from those based in the dramatic rugged terrain of the north to those set in the scenic rolling hills of the south - and you’ll find a warm welcome, an infectious buzz and limitless things to see and do.

There truly is no place quite like Derbyshire.

5 things to visit in Derbyshire in 2024


Our stately homes
Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall, Hardwick Hall, Kedleston Hall, Calke Abbey… when in Derbyshire you’re never far away from one of our sensational estates. At Chatsworth in particular, still owned and lived in by the Devonshire family, explore over 25 stunning state rooms and gardens which are largely unrivalled.

Charming villages
From picturesque Ashford in the Water (featuring what is believed to be the most photographed bridge in England); Castleton with its caves; unique Edensor on the Chatsworth Estate; the quintessentially English Hartington and Hathersage; to the historic plague village of Eyam, Derbyshire is home to some of England’s most stunning settlements.

Industrial heritage
This is Richard Arkwright country. Derbyshire’s rich natural resources and long, winding rivers has seen it be a lightning rod for industry and progress over the centuries and this heritage is still celebrated. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills will enthral history enthusiasts and scenery lovers in equal measure.

Market towns
Bursting with character, Derbyshire is home to the most wonderful towns you’ll find. From the cobbled streets of Chesterfield; architecture-rich Buxton (England’s highest market town); historic Ashbourne (which hosted Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1700s); Belper; Wirksworth; Matlock; Bakewell (with its famous pudding/tart!) and more, our towns are an utter delight.

Derbyshire boasts well-known landmarks that captivate locals and visitors time and again. Highlights include Chesterfield’s Crooked Spire; Crich Stand (at the top of which seven counties can be seen on a clear day); Riber Castle which towers over Matlock; and the medieval Swarkestone Bridge, the longest stone bridge in England.

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This article appeared in the Great British Staycations magazine.

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