Holidays in the Peak District are the perfect opportunity to explore some of Britain’s finest landscapes and create unforgettable memories with your loved ones. This extraordinary national park boasts 555 square miles of open English countryside awash with opportunities for outdoor pursuits, along with exciting local attractions to visit, world-class heritage sites to discover, and a plethora of unique gastronomic experiences to indulge in.
With so much incredible choice available it can be hard to narrow down a bucket list of options. Therefore, we have done the hard work for you and selected five of our favourite things to in the Peak District to inspire your next getaway.
The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop - Bakewell
Nestled in the heart of the Peak District in the picturesque village of Bakewell is a quaint little bakery which is famous for a centuries-old, top secret pudding recipe. The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop is a must visit for those with a sweet tooth. Its signature Bakewell Pudding, which is still baked by hand using the traditional overnight method is so irresistible that the bakery once sold a record breaking 11,000 puddings in just one week! This delectable dessert has gained a legion of devoted fans all over the world and once you’ve tasted it you will understand why.
Made from a pastry base with a layer of strawberry jam and topped with a filling of egg and almond paste (plus a secret ingredient), this iconic Peak District pudding is best served warm with cream or custard. It is said that the recipe was discovered by happy accident at a local inn, the White Horse around 1860. The cook was asked to bake a strawberry tart for some visiting noblemen, but instead of stirring the egg mixture into the pastry, it was spread on top of the jam. The surprisingly delicious result was so successful that a local resident Mrs Wilson, purchased the recipe and set up a business of her own selling the puddings from her home, known today as The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop.
Purveyors of a classy ‘pud’ can savour this mouth-watering treat in the bakeries’ tearoom with a pot of tea whilst enjoying a wonderful view of the town. For a truly unique day out in the Peak District, you can take part in a ‘Pudding Experience’, and have a go at making your own Bakewell Pudding to take home as a souvenir. Further details can be found here.
Well Dressings – Throughout the Peak District
Well dressing is a tradition unique to the Peak District and occurs annually between May and September. Teams of villagers lovingly create floral masterpieces next to wells and water features, giving thanks to the county’s fresh water springs. More than 80 towns and villages join in the celebrations, and it’s fascinating to watch. Intricate mosaics are designed by hand using natural materials such as flower petals, leaves, moss and coffee beans on a bed of rich, moist clay. The showpieces are then honoured with a blessing ceremony followed by colourful carnivals, fetes and flower festivals. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in true Derbyshire tradition, and a great opportunity to explore the Peak District’s pretty towns and villages. You need to be quick though once a mosaic has been created, these remarkable well dressings usually only last for about a week before the clay starts to dry out and crack.
Mam Tor - Castleton
It would be remiss to visit the Peak District without soaking up the awe-inspiring views of which the region is so famous for. One of the greatly renowned beauty spots, which rewards visitors with the most dramatic viewpoints in the land is Mam Tor. Whether you ascend the 1,696 ft high hill in its’ own right or as part of a Great Ridge trek, this is one of the most famous walks in the Peak District and it well and truly deserves a place on your bucket list. Lying close to the village of Castleton in the High Peak area of Derbyshire, the name Mam Tor, means ‘Mother Hill’ – so-called because numerous landslips in the past have resulted in a series of smaller ‘hills’ forming beneath the eastern face.
From the summit, panoramic views stretch north over the Edale Valley to Kinder Scout and the Derwent Moors. You will observe the dramatic limestone gorge of Winnats Pass, a favourite with photographers, and on a clear day it’s even possible to spot Manchester and Stockport. You will also find the fortifications of a large Iron Age fort - the ramparts can be followed most of the way around the hilltop. To see the beauty of the peaks from a different perspective, the windswept escarpments around Mam Tor and nearby Lord’s Seat and Rushup Edge are popular for hand-gliding and paragliding.
Chatsworth Estate - Bakewell
Lovingly known as the ‘Palace of the Peak’, the jaw-droppingly magnificent Chatsworth House and Estate stands proudly on the picturesque banks of the River Derwent. Rich in prestigious history, the house is the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and has been home to 16 generations of the Cavendish family since the 1500s. As one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Peak District with over a million visitors a year, this has most definitely got to be a must-see on our list.
The best way to see the house in all its splendour is to take a guided tour where you will discover some of the estate’s hidden gems and learn of its compelling history. There are over 30 resplendent rooms to explore featuring significant collections of artwork, ancient artefacts and sculptures spanning 4000 years. Fans of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ should keep a look out for the bust of Mr Darcy – the film was partially shot here.
In addition to the opulent interior, the grounds are equally as grand. Take a relaxing stroll in 105 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland designed by the renowned landscapist Capability Brown. You are sure to be impressed with the extravagant water features including a single jet which shoots upwards from the rear lake, offering an exceptional photo opportunity with the romantic façade of the yellow-stone house behind. Wander through enchanting woodland, a Victorian rock garden and get gloriously lost in the maze. For kids, there is a farmyard with a ‘hands-on’ approach to the animals, and a huge adventure playground with a zip-wire.
Also, on the estate is one of the country’s premier farm shops and an attached café, as well as a handful of other fantastic eateries and shopping outlets with a range of quality goods for the home and garden. Throughout the year there are a variety of fun, family events such as the famous ‘Christmas at Chatsworth’ – a perfect day out in the Peak District for the whole family.
Poole’s Cavern - Buxton
Known as the ‘First Wonder of the Peak’, Poole’s Cavern is one of the finest show caves in England. Delve underground and explore the captivating underworld of this 200-million-year-old limestone cave system of mesmerising passages and vast illuminated chambers adorned with stalactites and stalagmites. Expertly guided tours lead you through the paved walkways providing an informative history of the caves, and are suitable for all ages with only 28 steps throughout the tour.
Above ground there is a lovely park and picnic area to make the most of the sunshine, along with a café serving a variety of hot and cold refreshments and drinks. The visitor centre offers an interesting cavern exhibition, along with fun hands-on activities to keep children amused. You can also delight in a stroll through scenic woodland trails nearby to the open hilltops where the vantage point known locally as Solomon’s Temple provides breath-taking panoramic views over Buxton.
If you’ve been inspired by our list of top experiences in the Peak District and would like to spend your next getaway in this magnificent holiday destination in the UK, take a look at our collection of holiday cottages in the Peak District to find your perfect place to stay.