The Peak District is one of the UK’s premier destinations for breathtaking scenery, wonderful walks and simply getting away from it all.
With so much to see and do within its 555-square-mile expanse, there’s plenty here to keep visitors coming back time and time again. Here’s our top choices for destinations to visit in the Peak District in 2020. We also feature some of the best places to stay too!
Running across the north end of the park from east to west, Hope Valley is a rugged assortment of gritstone moors, deep valleys and limestone formations. The unique landscape offers not only amazing views but world-class walks and treks suitable for all abilities. Those seeking an active holiday will feel at home in Hope Valley, as it’s the perfect spot for sports as wide-ranging as caving, pony trekking, rock climbing and hang gliding.
Two rivers divide Hope Valley: The River Derwent, and the River Noe, only adding to the variety of views to be seen here. The Pennine Way also skims past Hope Valley, along the ridge separating it from the neighbouring Edale Valley, commanding panoramic views across both valleys. However, perhaps the most famous sight in the Hope Valley is Mam Tor, also known as the Shivering Mountain, crowned by an Iron Age fort.
Points of interest
- The village of Castleton is close by, which is famous for its stores selling crafts made from the unique Blue John stone.
- The lovely walking trail from Hathersage to Stangage Edge is popular with visitors, perhaps because it was a location in film adaption of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’
- You can take a trip on a traditional steam train which is one of the best ways to see the amazing region. This way, no one has to drive!
Featured cottage in the Hope Valley: Sam's Stable, sleeps 4. This is a trendy barn conversion nestled under Winn Hill in the Peak District National Park. It welcomes 2 dogs.
Read all about it in our guide to Hope Valley.
To the south-west of the park lies Dovedale, a pretty area encompassing the Staffordshire Moorlands. Several valleys can be found here, offering a variety of walks as well as views out over an abundance of lush green landscape, such as the Churnet Valley.
This valley is decorated with woodland and features a charming heritage steam railway, taking you through 16 miles of moorland scenery and past a host of lovingly restored railway stations. Throughout Dovedale, you’ll find not only quaint chocolate-box villages but also unspoilt market towns, which retain centuries of history in their buildings and landmarks.
Points of interest
- The traditional market town of Leek is refreshingly different thanks to its collection of independent shops, art galleries and Victorian mills.
- In the area you will find Thor’s Cave. With the entrance alone being 10 metres high, it’s stunning to behold and it provides a real challenge for climbers who want to scramble to the top.
- This area is the home of world-known theme park Alton Towers.
Featured cottage in Dovedale: Hawksmoor Barn, sleeps 6. This is a stylish, converted barn enjoying stunning views out over the countryside and hills.
Read all about it in our guide to Dovedale.
Spanning the south-eastern section of the Peak District is Carsington Water, a large reservoir collecting water from the River Derwent. The reservoir itself is an attraction but there is also plenty to explore in the surrounding south-eastern region.
Part of this region encompasses the Derwent Valley, as well as a 55-mile heritage trail stretching across the valley and past attractions such as the Chatsworth Estate. For a more unusual way to scale the heights of the valley, take a cable car to the very top of the Heights of Abraham, looking out over the surrounding countryside as well as the town of Matlock.
Points of interest
- This area of the Peak District is also steeped in industrial history; it is home to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, where towns such as Belper played a significant role in cotton-making.
- The Cromford Canal offers a peaceful and scenic walk without having to scale any of the towering hills the Peak District is famous for. You can spot a diverse variety of wildlife, from water voles to grass snakes and coots.
- In recent years, investigations at Carsington Water have revealed a Bronze Age burial mound near to the location of the Visitor Centre. This has yielded artefacts such as Bronze Age tools, flint knives and scrapers - proof, if any were needed, that there have been human settlements on the site for over two thousand years.
Featured cottage near Carsington Water: Bag End, sleeps 2. This is a charming, cosy cottage situated in the quiet village of Hognaston. It is full of character and is just a short walk to Carsington Water.
Read all about it in our guide to Carsington Water.
To the east of the Peak District lies the market town of Chesterfield, which acts as a great base from which to enjoy a number of different attractions in the area. Chesterfield itself is definitely worth exploring, if only to behold the sight of the enormous St Mary and All Saints Church. Built in the 14th century, the remarkable church spire, with its unique twisted shape, reaches 228ft above the ground, and is topped by 32 tonnes of lead tiles.
Just a few miles outside of Chesterfield, visitors will find a number of amazing beauty spots and delightful walks; among the highlights are the Cresswell Crags and Stanage Edge. The walks in this region cross mile after mile of moorland, which becomes carpeted in colourful heather in the late summer, while the landscape is dominated by towering landmarks such as Over Owler Tor and Higgers Tor.
Points of interest
- The popular walk, Flask Edge – Dronfield, is a 10-mile challenging route that is bound to help you stretch the legs. The views and nature will take your breath away and will make you want to see more.
- The town centre regularly plays host to one of the biggest open-air markets in the UK. These are the perfect places to soak up atmosphere and pick up a bargain, or two!
- Chatsworth House, Hardwick Hall and Bolsover Castle are all within easy reach and make for great days out.
Featured cottage in Chesterfield: The Old Coach House, sleeps 6. This is a newly refurbished holiday home set in a leafy suburb in the historic town. It’s ideally set to explore the national park and comes complete with hot tub!
Read all about it in our guide to Chesterfield.
Ladybower Reservoir was built in between 1935 and 1943 and was officially opened by King George VI in September 1945. It is a Y-shaped body of water in the Upper Derwent Valley, at the heart of the glorious Peak District National Park, and pulls visitors from all over the world to admire its unusual shape and natural surroundings.
There is a fascinating history that comes with Ladybower Reservoir. During its construction, it was decided that the small Peak villages of Ashopton and Derwent would be submerged during the filling of the reservoir and by 1946 the villages no longer existed! In its day, Derwent Village was a small collection of stone-built dwellings and out-buildings but the main activity was at Ashopton – a contrast to Derwent. Ashopton had an inn, local garage, post office and local farms. This area is a magnet for lovers of the outdoors and adventurous antics with many circular walking and cycling routes nearby, and jaw-dropping viewpoints like Bamford Edge.
Points of interest:
- The reservoir is linked to Derwent and Howden and all three of them together cover 210 hectares to give the largest expanse of water in the Peak District.
- At times of exceptional drought, the remains of the submerged Ashopton village may be seen near the concrete A57 road bridge.
- The tiny village of Yorkshire Bridge - which lies in the shadow of the dam wall of the Ladybower Reservoir, with its neat, regimented rows of houses - was used to house those rendered homeless by the flooding of the valley.
Featured cottage near Ladybower Reservoir: Glen House, sleeps 6. This is a charming former farmhouse dating back to 1750 located in the heart of Hope Valley.
Fancy exploring 1600 acres of moor, gritstone edges and extensive woods? Then head to Longshaw Estate, an amazing adventure playground for those who love being outside. Like many parts of the Peak District, this area has an interesting history which can be enjoyed when discovering millstone quarries and ancient packhorse routes.
The visitor centre, housed in the Shooting Lodge, is the ideal starting point for Longshaw and the Peak District. Here you can learn all about the area and also get tips on the best bits to see. This is a wonderful place to discover spectacular views of the Peak District, ancient woods, meadows, parkland and heather moorland.
Points of interest:
- Nature is waking up after winter, which makes it the perfect time to discover the secret worlds of plants and animals at Longshaw.
- Spring flowers such as wood anemone and daises bloom in Granby Woods, and the “cuckoo flower” with its four pale-pink petals, grows well near Longshaw pond. You might catch a glimpse of the delicate early purple orchid, which normally blooms around the same time and place as the bluebells.
- There is a tearoom serving delicious home-baked food using produce from the estate itself.
Featured cottage near Longshaw Estate: Bolehill Lodge, sleeps 6. A great, large house boasting seclusion, privacy and glorious views. Explore the delights of Chatsworth House and the pretty market town of Bakewell nearby.
Hopefully this list of must-visit Peak District destinations has got you excited to plan your next trip to this amazing region. Discover the best places to stay with our wonderful collection of self-catering holiday cottages. From cosy cabins to trendy barn conversions, we have everything you could need.