Right at the heart of the Peak District, this area offers ‘England in miniature’ – beautiful countryside, stately homes, sparkling rivers and a wealth of pretty villages. Visit the market town of Bakewell,the surrounding scenery is unbelievably varied – with wide green valleys overlooked by towering gritstone edges and spectacular narrow gorge-like valleys with craggy limestone outcrops. Riverside paths by the Derwent, Wye and Lathkill offer gentle walks, whilst stretches of heather moorland such as Stanton Moor give a feeling of being ‘on top of the world’. Picturesque villages, all built of local stone, nestle in the landscape often around a village green or pub, with well dressings and carnivals taking place in the summer months. Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall and a clutch of smaller historic halls show off their grand architecture; whilst little cottages are resplendent with their hanging baskets and pretty gardens.
Famous spring water and an opera house
The area’s main hub is Buxton and is famed for its spring water drawn from St Ann’s Well. It is described as the gateway to the Peak District National Park, because of its proximity to county borders with Cheshire and Staffordshire. Buxton also has a higher elevation than any other town and city in England. It’s an attractive town with its own opera house,designed by Frank Matcham and Poole’s Cavern, a giant limestone cave. It’s the Bath of the north!
Chatsworth House is a famous stately home that’s belonged to the same family since the 16th century. On the banks of the River Derwent it has inspired authors, painters and filmmakers alike for years. The house is set in beautiful parkland that consists of woods, rocky hills and heathland. Chatsworth Estate makes for a great day out and it’s also been chosen as the nation’s favourite country house on a number of occasions. The grounds include landscaped features dating back centuries including The Cascade, the Rockeries, the Emperor Fountain, and modern sculptures like Angela Conner’s Revelation.
Trails and ales
Plenty of breathtaking scenery can admired whilst walking through Central Peak District. One of the best known walks through moorland in the central region is the Buxton and Three Shire Heads Trek, a 17km circuit. It takes in places like Axe Edge, Danebower Hollow, Macclesfield Old Road, and Derbyshire Bridge.
There are a number of trails that are easy to pick up from virtually every settlement in the area. Bakewell has several including a circular route that takes in the Monsal Trail and Priestville. Some of the most impressive views of the rolling Peak District are in the Bakewell area, so it’s worth heading over that way.
Caving or climbing?
For rock climbers, Birchen is very popular whilst the close-by Chatsworth Edge is a well-kept secret amongst seasoned locals, but there are several climbing schools for novices and enthusiasts of all abilities. A few are based on the edge of Chesterfield and Buxton. Caving and pot-holing is also increasing in popularity. For the experienced there are cave systems and caverns to explore below the central limestone plateau of the Peak District. For beginners a number of outdoor pursuit centres offer courses with equipment and tuition provided.
The Peak District is like a hardy perennial as there are pursuits for all seasons no matter how extreme. Have a look at our range of lovely holiday cottages in and around Chatsworth, Buxton and Bakewell when planning your trip to the Peak District.