Smack bang in the middle of the country, the Peak District is one of the nation’s most popular national parks. Limestone gorges and rolling fields give way to dramatic and rugged moorland, a landscape that spoils walkers, climbers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The Peak District is split into two distinct areas - the White Peak in the south, and the Dark Peak in the north.
Forested river valleys, limestone gorges and rolling pastureland characterise the fertile and picturesque landscape of the White Peak. Seeped in history, the area includes everything from ancient stone circles to abandoned mines, with a network of caves and rivers crossing the countryside. Most villages are located here, including the idyllic Tissington, Ashford in the Water and Hope.
The valley of Dovedale is one of the most popular places in the entire Peak District, offering plenty of walking trails beneath steep sided slopes and exposed rock faces, following the river through dense woodland and across famous stepping stones.
The Tissington Trail is a 13 mile route stretching through some of the most beautiful areas of the White Peak. Following an old track line that ran between the market towns of Ashbourne and Buxton, the trail offers a gentle way to explore this part of the country, perfect for ramblers, cyclists and horse riders.
The Peak District is home to one of England’s most famous stately homes, Chatsworth House, which has been the seat of the Cavendish family for over 500 years. As well as being the setting for numerous TV dramas and films, including Pemberley in Pride & Prejudice, the estate and grounds provide remarkable walking trails through forest and across granite edges.
Other areas to explore in the White Peak include The Roaches, a large, dramatic gritstone edge that overlooks Cheshire, as well as the impressive Thor’s Cave in the verdant Manifold Valley.
The Dark Peak stands in stark contrast to the fertile valleys of the south. Here lies the rugged, wild and windswept face of the Peak District, with granite stone, peat bogs and open moorland stretching away to the far horizon. This is home to the tougher walks in the Peak District, including the southern end of The Pennine Way.
The highest point in the East Midlands, Kinder Scout lies in the Dark Peak. A bleak moorland plateau, Kinder Scout is the home of the mass trespass of 1932, a protest which opened up the countryside and resulted in our ‘right to roam’ over uncultivated land. Features on Kinder Scout include the mysterious Mermaid’s Pool, as well as Kinder Downfall, an impressive waterfall that cascades over the plateau.
Weather in the Dark Peak can be unpredictable and volatile. During both World Wars, numerous military aircraft came down over this area of open moorland, lost in the uninhabited and vast wilderness. Today, numerous walks take you to the crash sites of these wartime bombers, most of which require GPS navigation to reach.