Ultimate guide to Peak District walks holiday cottages

Ultimate guide to Peak District walks

Clare Willcocks 17 July 2023

Wondering where to find the best walks in the Peak District? Look no further as we have put together a handy guide to the best Peak District walks in the Derbyshire region. These walks meander through beautiful villages and take in some of the most fantastic views the Peak District landscape can muster.

Remember, whenever you are exploring, it is important to come prepared. A map, a compass, good, sturdy and comfortable shoes plus plenty of water and snacks will do you well, but planning your route is the best safeguard for a successful walk.

Take a look at our best Peak District walks below or click the button to delve into our collection of Peak District cottages.

Jump to:

Walks in Hartington and the southern Peak District

Hartington and southern Peak District

The Southern Peak District is blessed with some wonderful destinations, even before we get into the walks in the area. Carsington Water is a haven for water sports enthusiasts, then there’s Poole’s Cavern, the Heights of Abraham, Matlock Farm Park, Gulliver’s Kingdom and Chatsworth Farmyard and Playground to name but a few of the family attractions to add to the excitement.

Hartington in Derbyshire has got to be one of the prettiest villages around, comprising a large duck pond, some charming 18th-century houses and a rather good cheese shop. There’s also an abundance of gift shops and cafes as well as a selection of great Hartington walks.

One of our favourites is a walk to the quaint village of Longnor, passing by nearby Pilsbury Castle along the way. Longnor was used as a filming location for the popular TV show Peak Practice and has a bustling market square with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. Head to the old market hall where you can browse locally made gifts at the Longnor Craft Centre that’s housed there now.


Matlock is another town in the Southern Peak District that makes a great base for discovering some of the fascinating history of the area with walks to Rowsley and Whatstandwell. Find out more about walking the Heritage Way.

The Heights of Abraham are also close to Matlock and have been a popular Peak District visitor attraction since the 18th century. As part of the 60-acre site, there are a number of heritage trails where you can walk on the same paths that have been followed by visitors for more than 230 years. 

Below are some of the best Hartington walks and routes through the Southern Peak District, with links to the detailed route description.

Easy walks near Hartington in the southern Peak District

We've rounded up the top easy walking trails near Harington so lace up those walking boots, pack a picnic and pick your favourite.

Dales of the River Dove walk: A historic castle and cheese heaven

Wolfscote Dale

This route passes through Wolfscote Dale, Beresford Dale and Biggin Dale, taking in 5.5 miles of wonderful Derbyshire countryside, starting from the picturesque village of Hartington. Home to one of the best cheese shops in the county, you can buy delicious and locally made cheese here with Hartington Stilton, Peakland Cranberry and Orange, and Peakland Blue being popular purchases. Hartington is full to the brim, or 'bossin' with charm as 18th-century houses line the lanes centred around an idyllic, village pond.

You'll follow the sparkling River Dove for much of the way, before returning to Hartington village along lovely country lanes.

The Manifold Way: Old railway route with an accessible section

Thors Cave

  • Start/end point: Wetton Mill
  • Distance: 2 or 8 miles
  • Average Time: 2-3 hours
  • Rating: Easy | accessible | family-friendly | dog friendly
  • Walk details: The Manifold Way
  • Swap walking for cycling: Hire a bike at Hulme End
  • Stay in: Ivy House | sleeps 6 plus 1 dog

The Manifold Way stretches for 8.5 miles from its northern tip at Hulme End to Waterhouses in the south, along the route of the old Leek and Manifold Light Railway. It is a lovely trail, suitable for walkers or cyclists (the surface is tarmac and only a very short section has traffic on it) following the wooded valleys of the Manifold and Hamps rivers, with a glimpse of Thor’s Cave (as featured in the film Lair of the White Worm) in the rocks above.

A short, 2-mile accessible section takes in Thor’s Cave, the highlight of the walk, making it one of the best walks in the Peak District for families.

A good resting point en route is the tearoom at Wetton Mill (owned by the National Trust) or the cafe at the Hulme End terminus. Short deviations from the track up the steep valley sides to Wetton or Grindon can be rewarded with refreshments at traditional pubs in these two attractive villages.

Moderate walks near Hartington in the southern Peak District

Discover some of the most iconic sights of the Southern Peak District on these moderate walks near Hartington.

Matlock Bath to Heights of Abraham walk: What it lacks in length, it makes up for in hills!

Heights of Abraham

Short and sweet, this walk starts at the Peak District Mining Museum in Matlock Bath and ends at Matlock. Its total distance is only 1.6 miles, but the workout is strenuous, up hills and down dales via the Heights of Abraham and Masson Hill. We guess you could always cheat and take the cable car!

If you do take on the challenge, though, the views are supremely rewarding, and that coffee and cake in the cafe once you arrive will taste all the more delicious.

Cromford Mill and the village walk: Culture, cafe, cotton mill and Cromford Canal


What do Florence Nightingale and the Industrial Revolution have in common? Cromford. This picturesque village is soaked in Derbyshire history and the best place to learn about it is opposite Cromford car park. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Arkwright's Mill is the world's first ever water-powered cotton spinning mill and includes an interactive exhibition that immerses you in the everyday life of an 18th-century day's work at t'mill. There are plenty of shops and a cafe to set you up nicely for the walk ahead. 

From the mill, walk through the village, that was originally built for the workers, through the inviting village market square. Eventually, you will reach the High Peak Trail, a former railway track that leads to High Peak Junction and Cromford Canal. If you take the longer route back that extends the walk from 6 to 8 miles, you can walk along the canal and past Lea Hurst, a summer house that once belonged to Florence Nightingale. 

Map of walks in Hartington and the southern Peak District

Find the starting points for each of the walks mentioned above on the map.

Please enable cookies via the cookie preference centre to view this content.

Walks in Bakewell and the eastern Peak District

Bakewell and the eastern Peak District

Derbyshire is known for some of the UK’s finest stately homes and a walking holiday to the Peak District is one of the best ways to uncover them. 

Chatsworth and Haddon Hall are both located close to Bakewell and you can walk to each of these impressive country houses from the popular market town. 

The magnificent 16th-century Chatsworth House is set in a 1,000-acre park and there are a variety of paths and trails to try within the surrounding grounds and parkland. You can also take a circular 3.5-mile walk around Stand Wood; the beautiful ancient woodland is directly behind Chatsworth and includes a selection of pretty lakes, streams and very scenic picnic spots. 

Haddon Hall

Nearby Haddon Hall is one of the finest examples of a medieval manor house in the country and offers guided walks through its grounds where you can learn about the history of the beautiful estate. The walks encompass ancient parkland and organic farmland, and you can spot a variety of wildlife (and some rare-breed cattle) along the way.

Below are some of the best Bakewell walks and routes through the Eastern Peak District, with links to detailed descriptions.

Easy walks near Bakewell in the eastern Peak District

If you're looking for a peaceful stroll with the family, or perhaps a scenic dog walk, these easy Peak District walks near Bakewell are the perfect choice.

Chatsworth Waterfall circular walk: A family jaunt to discover the falls

Chatsworth Aquaduct

A lovely trail to explore all year round, this family-friendly route takes in part of the Chatsworth Estate, passing through woodland and past landmarks such as the Hunting Tower before reaching the aqueduct with its 24-metre cascade of water.

There are beautiful views of Chatsworth House and the surrounding area en route, and plenty of interesting things to keep children, young and old, engaged.

Bakewell to Chatsworth walk: Picturesque walk with the promise of a pudding


There are so many good walks in the Peak District, but you may want to start with is one that ends with grandeur and tea rooms at Chatsworth House – perhaps have a Bakewell pudding to reward your efforts. This isn't a challenging one and you'll jaunt along the Monsal Trail from Bakewell, through some woods and on to the picturesque village of Edensor. This lovely village isn't far from the Chatsworth Estate and the walk is 6 miles long.

The longer walk includes a stroll along the banks of the River Derwent and is more picturesque, plus if you choose to go this way, you'll see a ruined corn mill and an Iron Age fort. 

Moderate walk near Bakewell in the eastern Peak District

If you're looking for a longer walk in the Peak District, this route with fabulous views can't fail to impress.

Birchen Edge to Chatsworth Walk: A long walk with astounding views

Birchen Edge

As is the way with most walks, we end where we started at Chatsworth House. This 7-mile circular tour includes some real gems of the Derbyshire countryside. Birchen Edge and Dobb Edge are home to stunning views in the area, whichever direction you look.

You can start this perambulation around the Peaks either at Birchen Edge car park, by the Robin Hood Inn, Chatsworth car park or Baslow village car park. Wherever you choose to start, make sure you end with a mash and some snap in the tearoom as you'll already have walked off the calories!

Challenging walk near Bakewell in the eastern Peak District

When you really want to up the ante, this challenging walk, starting from Bakewell, takes in some beautiful rural scenery, with the promise of a hearty meal when you get back to town.

Monsal Head, Dale and Bakewell loop: A long walk through varied scenery

Monsal Head

If you’ve got a day set aside to get stuck into a good walk near Bakewell, this long circular route is for you. It follows part of the Monsal Trail and takes in Monsal Head, a stretch of the River Wye, and the Monsal Nature Reserve.

It returns through farmland, and en route, you will encounter some rocky and muddy areas, so sturdy footwear is needed, and if you’re following the trail with a dog, they’ll need to be sprightly!

Map of Walks in Bakewell and the eastern Peak District

Find the starting points for each of the walks mentioned above on the map.

Please enable cookies via the cookie preference centre to view this content.

Walks in Buxton and the western Peak District

Buxton and western Peak District

Scenic lakeside strolls and moorland rambles aplenty await in the western Peak District around the spa town of Buxton in Derbyshire. And when those legs are tired and weary, you’ll find sanctuary in one of the spas, bringing you back to the best version of you, ready to tackle more walks in Buxton.

Not only does the area around Buxton showcase some of the best walks in the Peak District, there are also lots of other attractions to fill your holiday schedule. Enjoy a glamourous night out at Buxton Opera House, explore intriguing Poole’s Cavern, and discover the history and culture that seeps from the beautiful architecture – the Georgian crescent is not to be missed.

Below are some of the best Buxton walks and routes through the western Peak District, with links to detailed descriptions.

Easy walk near Buxton and the western Peak District

This Peak District walk is a lovely choice for families with a pushchair or wheelchair, showcasing some of the most glorious Peak District scenery, without the need for hiking boots and hill walking!

Goyt accessible walk: Family walk with fabulous views

Goyt Valley

Take in spectacular views across the moors and woodlands of the Goyt Valley on this pleasant, accessible walk. Great for wheelchair users and families with pushchairs, the level path takes you through marvellous scenery, with opportunities to spot wildlife and even sample some of nature’s produce growing wild along the way.

The reservoir you’ll see at the beginning of the walk was used by the Victorians as an ice rink, but also had the functional purpose of providing water for the steam engine which pulled trains up the hill.

Moderate walks near Buxton and the western Peak District

These Peak District walks take a little more effort, but if you're staying in the Buxton area and want to spend the day roaming the nearby landscape on foot, you'll find them fascinating routes with plenty to see.

Magpie Mine and Monsal Dale: Rivers, mines and dales – an explorer’s dream

Magpie Mine

The traffic-free Monsal Trail follows the line of the former Midland Railway tracks from Buxton to Bakewell and there are lots of access points and circular routes so you can adapt the length of the walk to suit your requirements (and those of your canine or child companion).

One of the loveliest villages to call in at from the Monsal Trail is Ashford-in-the-Water. It’s picture-postcard pretty with a flowing river and the medieval Sheepwash Bridge. You may even be able to catch a game of local cricket before calling in at the dog-friendly village tearoom for refreshments.

This circular walk takes in a small section of the Monsal Trail and takes in the atmospheric Magpie Mine, Deep Dale and Monsal Dale.

The Roaches and Lud’s Church walk: Outstanding views and natural wonders

Lud's Church

This moderate walk is perfect for those looking for peace and solitude in the Peak District. Take in the sandstone geology, tranquil woodlands and incredible views as you ramble along the rocky ridge of The Roaches, past Lud’s Church and Hen’s Cloud, the latter of which you can summit if you have the energy to add a bit on to your walk.

As you walk along The Roaches, you may see the tiny forms of climbers tackling the rocks above you. Enchanting Lud’s Church is also a highlight; rather than an architectural wonder, it is a natural chasm, which throughout the centuries has sheltered and hidden many a fugitive, including Robin Hood. The moss-coated ravine offers a cool spot of respite if you’re walking in the summer sun.

Map of walks in Buxton and the western Peak District

Find the starting points for each of the walks mentioned above on the map.

Please enable cookies via the cookie preference centre to view this content.

Walks in the Hope Valley and the northern Peak District

Hope Valley and the northern Peak District

The area around Hope Valley offers some breathtaking views, making it the perfect choice for a scenic summer walk. But Hope Valley walks are not the only activity to be enjoyed here. The area is a magnet for climbers, with Stanage Edge and Curbar Edge being the most popular spots of all. Beautiful Ladybower Reservoir is another stunning location that makes it onto many a Peak District itinerary, while spectacular sights can also be enjoyed underground in caves such as Treak Cliff Cavern, Speedwell Cavern and Blue John Cavern.

And when you’re not walking, you can swap your two feet for four wheels to explore the awe-inspiring Winnat’s Pass, or hop on a bike for cycling or mountain biking your way around the Hope Valley.

Bringing the focus back to walking, the village of Eyam has a fascinating history and it’s worth calling at Mompesson’s Well on the outskirts of the village. When the plague broke out in Eyam, the villagers’ self-imposed exile prevented it from spreading to the rest of Derbyshire and the well was used as the drop-off/exchange point with neighbouring villages.


The Limestone Way is a 45-mile waymarked trail that starts in the Derbyshire town of Castleton and weaves its way through the southern part of the Peak District National Park. This area is known as the White Peak because of the abundance of limestone plateaus, caves and gorges.

One of the best-loved beauty spots on the Limestone Way is Dovedale which features spectacular limestone ravines and some iconic stepping stones. It’s a lovely spot for a walk and a must-visit Peak District attraction.

Below are some of the best Hope Valley walks and routes through the northern Peak District, with links to detailed descriptions. But before we get into those, we wanted to shine the spotlight on Jen Lowthrop, a friend of Peak Cottages and chair of the Peak District National Park Foundation who recently undertook the epic challenge of walking 1000 miles through 10 of the UK’s national parks in just 10 weeks - a challenge ironically named ‘A Walk in The Parks’! 

Accompanied by her rescue dog Cookie, Jen was raising money for the Peak District National Park Foundation which works to protect and support the national park for the benefit of the Peak District’s wildlife and people.

photograph of Jen holding her rescue dog Cookie

Writing for the travel blog She Gets Around, Jen is no stranger to adventures, but felt compelled to take on this added challenge for a number of reasons: “I love hiking, love national parks and am passionate about sharing the importance of our national parks, both to our physical and mental wellbeing – and for the planet, too. A Walk In The Parks seemed the perfect challenge, albeit a little bigger than I first envisaged!” Jen’s challenge began on August 19th 2023, with the final leg from 20th to 28th October starting in the northern Peak District close to the Hope Valley. Peak Cottages is proud to have donated towards her fundraising target and to be sharing her journey here.

Easy walk in the Hope Valley and northern Peak District

The sparkling waters of Ladybower Reservoir make a gorgeous backdrop for this family-friendly Peak District walk.

Ladybower Reservoir walk: A sedate waterside stroll with lots to see

Ladybower Reservoir

This lovely, leisurely stroll around the sparkling Ladybower Reservoir is a great choice for families looking for Peak District walks with kids in tow. The promise of a treat back at the cafe is sure to keep those little legs trundling along, and the smallest tots can enjoy the trail from the comfort of their pushchair.

There’s a visitor centre, toilets, cafe and gift shop, but the real attraction is the reservoir itself, around which you’ll spot sights including Ashopton Viaduct and Derwent Dam, where the practice flights for the Second World War Dambusters raids famously took place.

Moderate walks in the Hope Valley and northern Peak District

Some superb views await if you're willing to put in the effort on these moderate Peak District walks.

Hathersage to Stanage Edge circular walk: Perfect for Pride and Prejudice pilgrims

Stanage Edge

This area is littered with literary connections and history, literally! If you are a fan of the adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley, then this 9-mile walk should be on your pilgrimage trail. The very rocks above are where she stood as Elizabeth Bennett, all windswept, wistful and whimsical. It also passes a 16th-century manor named North Lees Hall, which is thought to be the inspiration behind Mr Rochester's home in Jane Eyre. A family of Eyres did actually live there until they were driven out in the 17th century by Protestants, being Roman Catholic. The remains of their chapel from 1685 can still be seen. 

Once past the hall, you can continue on to the impressive gritstone escarpment of Stanage Edge. The landscape around is scattered with old millstones and grindstones; a nod to the once flourishing industry and now monuments to simpler days, they are very much part of the park.

Castleton, Mam Tor and the Great Ridge Walk: A steep walk with superb views

Mam Tor

Mam Tor is a mountain near Castleton and walks around it are very popular. It is also known as Shivering Mountain, most probably from the shivers down your back you will experience once you set eyes on the view at the summit. At over 500 metres high, on a clear day, you can see as far as Manchester. When visibility is less, you can only see idyllic countryside and some of the best landscape vistas around. You may well meet photographers queueing up to capture this iconic aspect. This is one of the grandest Peak District walks.

Mam Tor is the main link between the eastern end of Rushup Edge and the western end of the Great Ridge. There are a number of caverns below to explore too and if you walk from nearby Edale, you are officially at the start of the Pennine Way. This walk is steep, but well worth the energy and you will most definitely have earned yourself a local ale by the end of it.

Challenging walks in the Hope Valley and northern Peak District

Make sure you've got sturdy walking boots and lots of stamina for these challenging walks in the northern Peak District.

Edale to Crowden – The Pennine Way: Long and linear, with lots of highlights


The Pennine Way is one of Britain’s most challenging long-distance trails – 268 miles along the rugged backbone of England, from the Peak District through the Yorkshire Dales and over Hadrian’s Wall to the Cheviots. Along the way, it offers some of the finest upland walking in the country. Peak District sections of the walk (waymarked with the National Trail acorn symbol) can be accessed from its southern tip at Edale or from the Longdendale Valley further north. The walking can be demanding, crossing very harsh terrain of peat bog and moorland, and should not be attempted without planning.

The Edale to Crowden section is a long, linear route which will give you a real flavour for the Pennine Way, and an idea of whether the rest of the trail is for you! It climbs uphill to Edale Rocks and Kinder Plateau, passes Kinder Low trig point and Kinder Downfall before descending via remote Bleaklow.

Mass Trespass circular walk on Kinder Scout: A historic route with fascinating scenery

Kinder Scout

Not only does Kinder Scout have a cascading waterfall called Kinder's Downfall – on a windy day the water is blown back on itself resulting in a cloud of spray that can be seen from miles away – but it is also the highest point in the Peak District.

This fabulous walk takes a historical route that encounters the serene Mermaid's Pool, Pym's Chair – where you'll see compelling rock formations – gentle streams, moorland and unique peat. The path follows the way of a very important, peaceful protest known as the Mass Trespass that took place in 1932. It helped to change legislation and allow people to walk freely across access land and was also a major factor in the creation of the first-ever national park, as in the Peak District National Park! This is a challenging, but highly rewarding trek across some amazing landscapes.

The Limestone Way: A bucket-list walk, not for the faint-hearted

The Limestone Way

  • Start point: Castle Street, Castleton | End point: Mill Street, Rocester
  • Distance: 46 miles  
  • Average time: 3-4 days  
  • Rating: Challenging
  • Walk details: The Limestone Way
  • Enjoy a pint here: Duncombe Arms 
  • Stay in: Alice Cottage | sleeps 6 guests plus 2 dogs

If you would like to walk the length of the Limestone Way, it could take you 3-4 days, but the path is easy and waymarked. It is 46 miles long and for the most part snakes through the Derbyshire Dales and through a number of farms in the Peak District. It passes several villages and travels across sheep-replete fields and country tracks. 

Although marked for most of the way, the section between Rocester and Thorpe in Staffordshire will require a map as the markings are few and far between. The northern half of this walk between Castleton and Bonsall is especially edifying.  

Map of walks in the Hope Valley and the northern Peak District

Find the starting points for each of the walks mentioned above on the map.

Please enable cookies via the cookie preference centre to view this content.

Find your perfect Peak District holiday cottage

If these Peak District walks have got you feeling inspired to visit the Peak District, you’ll want a cosy and comfortable base to rest up and refresh after each day’s adventures. Whether you’re planning a rambling getaway with your partner and pup, or a family holiday with wonderful walks and attraction visits, you’ll find your perfect cottage within our collection. Browse all of our Peak District holiday cottages by clicking the button below, and you’ll be strolling through epic scenery before you know it!

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

Like it? Share it...

Read more like this

Peak District stone circles to visit on your holiday

Why not seek out some of the area’s ancient stone circles in our handy guide?

5 ways to spend New Year in the Peak District

Roller coasters, parties in pubs and catching sunsets are all fun ways to spend New Year in the Peak District. Read some more ideas here.

A guide to Christmas in the Peak District

Get into the festive spirit with our pick of Peak District Christmas markets and events
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Peak Cottages is an appointed representative of ITC Compliance Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (their registration number is 313486) and which is permitted to advise on and arrange general insurance contracts as an intermediary.
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Peak Cottages | The Travel Chapter Limited is registered in England and Wales. | Registered office Travel Chapter House Gammaton Road Bideford EX39 4DF Company No. 02431506 | VAT reg: 143053210.