8 things to see and do in the Peak District 

Rushup Edge from Mam Tor

Rushup Edge from Mam Tor - Credit: Gary Wallis

The Peak District was the first National Park in the UK - a world class national park from stunning scenery, fascinating historical sites and extensive walking, hiking and cycling routes.

Here, Molly Scott identifies eight wonderful things to see and do in the region.

Walking and hiking  

The Peak District is one of the most popular places in the UK for walking and hiking and there are numerous places to do so.  

One of the Peak District’s most iconic walks incorporates Mam Tor. Expect stunning views including the photogenic Winnats Pass. As one of the most-loved ridge walks in the Peak District, you can see all the way to Manchester on a clear day.  

The ‘Ethels’ are a new hill walking challenge in the Peak District which can be tracked on a free smart phone app.  

Named after Ethel Haythornthwaite, the founder of what is now countryside charity CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire.  

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Ethel was instrumental in establishing the Peak District as Britain’s first national park in 1951. There are 95 Ethels - hilltops over 400m above sea level and some significant lower prominent hills that stand out in their own right.  

Castleton for Caverns  

Beautiful Castleton

Beautiful Castleton - Credit: Gary Wallis

Castleton is one of the most beautifully situated villages in the Peak District.  

It is the only place in the world where Blue John, a semi-precious stone, unique to Derbyshire and the Peak District can be found.  

There are various caverns to explore such as Speedwell Cavern which features an underground boat ride to the eerie ‘Bottomless Pit’. 

The Monsal Trail for cycling and stunning views 

The Monsal Trail is an 8.5-mile, traffic-free route for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users.  

Running from Chee Dale to Bakewell, it takes in some of the Peak District’s most spectacular limestone dales.  

The trail is on an old railway line so is very accessible. You can even walk through the old train tunnels which are well lit.  

There’s a large pay and display car park at Hassop Station where you can also rent bikes, and relax in their extensive café facilities. There’s also a small children’s play area.  

From Hassop Station you can easily walk to Bakewell in one direction (just over a mile and a half) or the magnificent views at Monsal Viaduct (two miles). 

For anyone with very limited mobility, Monsal Head is a wonderful viewing area of the surrounding countryside. There are disabled car parking spaces and an ice cream van in the warmer months.  

Monsal Dale

Monsal Dale - Credit: Gary Wallis

Explore Bakewell 

Bakewell is a pretty market town well worth exploring. It is rumoured that Jane Austen wrote and based Pride and Prejudice whilst staying at The Rutland Arms and the town provided the inspiration for the fictional Lambton in the novel.  

Today the historic coaching inn is not only a lovely place to stay but opens its coffee lounge and bar to non-residents.  

Feed the ducks during a riverside stroll. Mooch around the local shops and then take home a Bakewell pudding.  

Numerous bakeries sell them, but The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop is often regarded as the best. Takeaway or enjoy inside or in their sunny courtyard. 

For high end, contemporary dining don’t miss Lovage by Lee Smith.  

Bakewell

Bakewell - Credit: Gary Wallis

Chatsworth House and Estate  

Often described as the jewel of the Peak District, Chatsworth is one of England’s finest country houses.  

Jane Austen is believed to have based her idea of Pemberley on Chatsworth House. More recently it has featured in cult classic, Peaky Blinders.   

There is something for everyone on the Chatsworth estate. From the extensive, exquisite interiors of the house to the beautifully manicured 105-acre gardens. There’s also a lovely farmyard and adventure playground.    

Take a picnic or enjoy the range of catering facilities at Chatsworth. The Carriage House is ideal for families and serves freshly made, seasonal dishes using local ingredients in a canteen style.  

For a more refined experience, The Flying Childers restaurant offers the ultimate English indulgence – a luxurious afternoon tea served on Wedgewood China. 

You could easily spend the whole day exploring Chatsworth. Various walks can be done around the estate.  

A favourite with locals is up to the Hunting Tower for stunning views. The estate’s award-winning farm shop at nearby Pilsley is also worth a visit. 

Chatsworth

Chatsworth - Credit: Gary Wallis

Haddon Hall  

Haddon Hall has a rich and fascinating history dating back to the Middle Ages.  

There is much to explore, from a remarkable tapestry collection to a fine collection of English furniture.  

The stunning Elizabethan walled gardens is a truly romantic setting that enjoys spectacular vistas of the surrounding scenery.  

Haddon opens on June 20.   

Thornbridge Hall and Gardens  

Thornbridge Hall isn’t routinely open to the public for general visiting but its lovely gardens are. 

Although smaller and quieter than some of the other big country houses in the region, the gardens at Thornbridge are still very much worth a visit.  

Thornbridge is also exceptionally good fun with children who will adore its famous ‘hook a duck’ fountain.  

There’s a good café, plant sales and dogs are welcome on leads.  

Eyam  

The historic village of Eyam

The historic village of Eyam - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The picturesque village of Eyam is well worth a wander. Infamously known as ‘the plague village’ for the villagers courageous decision to isolate themselves to contain the outbreak of plague. There is a small but fascinating museum dedicated to this history.  

Aside from its fascinating history, Eyam is a beautiful example of a traditional English village. There are several good options to eat and drink, including the Village Green for great barista coffee and delicious home baked goodies.  

The Coolstone has at atmospheric courtyard which is wonderful on a summer’s day. There’s also lots of good country walks in the local area.