best walks in the peak district

12 Best Walks in the Peak District (to Do in a Day)

If you’re looking for the best walks in the Peak District, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, I share 12 Peak District walking routes that are doable in a day and cater to various fitness levels and capabilities.

The Peak District National Park is one of the walking hotspots of the UK. A sprawling area of towering peaks, dramatic ridges, limestone valleys, and vast moorland, the Peak District trails provide a playground for hiking and walking enthusiasts.

We recently spent over three weeks hiking in the Peak District, and I was continuously in awe at the beauty and diversity on offer here. In this guide, I’m excited to share 12 of what I consider to be the best walks in the Peak District.

These scenic Peak District hikes range from easy to hard in difficulty. All can be done in a day, most can be completed in a few hours, and some even less than that. There’s something for everybody on this list, so I’m confident you’ll find the perfect walking route for you.

couple walking in the peak district
We hope you enjoy these epic Peak District walks!

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The Best Walks in the Peak District

Okay, let’s jump into what you came here for. I have done every hike on this list and can assure you that these are some of the most scenic walks in the Peak District.

From gentle reservoir walks and exciting trig hikes to precarious ridge trails leading to breathtaking viewpoints, I hope you enjoy these 12 Peak District hikes.

1. Mam Tor

woman and dog on mam tor trail walking in the peak district

Distance: 2.3km

Ascent: 147m

Time: 1-2 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Starting Point: Mam Tor Car Park

Mam Tor, meaning “mother hill”, is arguably the most famous peak in the Peak District. Set in the heart of the Hope Valley, just west of Castleton village, this hike is all about the views. On a clear day, expect breathtaking panoramic vistas from the summit.

This iconic Peak District walk begins at the Mam Tor Car Park. It is directly next to Blue John Cavern, another notable Castleton attraction. The trailhead starts on the roadside and is a manageable and well-maintained trail suitable for hikers of all ages and capabilities.

While the classic out-and-back walking route to Mam Tor is relatively easy, there are plenty of ways you can up the intensity of your hike. You can find all that information and more in my complete guide to walking Mam Tor.

2. The Trinnacle Trail

view of the trinnacle one of the best hikes in the peak district

Distance: 6.6km

Ascent: 342m

Time: 2-3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Starting Point: Binn Green car park

I hadn’t heard anything about The Trinnacle Trail before our recent visit, but it ended up being one of our favourite walks in the Peak District. The hike itself, which starts at Dovestone Reservoir, is challenging and adventurous, while the views from the top are out of this world.

Although a relatively short hike, the steep ascent is a real leg burner. Those up for the challenge will make it to a series of unique rock formations known as ‘The Trinnacle’. The best time to do this hike is at sunset, where you can climb the rocks for some seriously epic photos.

Despite boasting one of the best viewpoints in the Peak District, The Trinnacle Trail remains quite the hidden gem. I should warn you that this is a challenging hike with some steep drop-offs. It’s not suitable for young children or those less abled on their feet. Find out more in our complete guide to The Trinnacle Trail.

3. Thors Cave Circular Walk

front of thors cave considered one of the best peak district walks

Distance: 6.4km

Ascent: 181m

Time: 2.5 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Starting Point: Wetton Car Park

Thors Cave is one of the most famous attractions in the Peak District. A natural cavern 80 meters above the ground, it allows for jaw-dropping views over the surrounding Manifold Valley. Not to mention a fun-filled adventure that’s suitable for all the family.

This circular walking route to Thors Cave starts in Wetton before continuing to Wetton Mill – a scenic picnic spot and tiny village. The final stretch traverses through the hills and provides beautiful views of the English countryside.

If you want a more challenging and longer walk, I recommend including Wolfscote Dale – a serene riverside trail that snakes alongside the River Doe. You’ll find all the details in my guide, which includes three Thors Cave walking routes.

4. Kinder Scout Walk

kinder scout walking trail peak district

Distance: 13.1km

Ascent: 514m

Time: 4-5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Starting Point: Edale Car Park

I couldn’t write a list of the best Peak District Walks without including Kinder Scout. On a clear day, the views from the Kinder Plateau are out of this world. I would avoid this one in poor visibility, not only for that reason but because it can be disorientating and dangerous.

Kinder Scout is the highest point in the Peak District, and various trails lead there from all directions. If you’re in good shape, I recommend hiking to Kinder Scout from Edale. It’s by no means an easy route, but it’s popular because of its adventurous nature.

The highlight for me was ascending Grindbrook Clough, which involves an easy scramble alongside a gentle waterfall. The hike then crosses the Kinder Plateau before descending via Jacobs Ladder. Read all about it in my complete guide to walking Kinder Scout.

5. Winnats Pass Walk

view of winnats pass from top of cliff

Distance: 7.1km

Ascent: 273m

Time: 2-3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Starting Point: Mam Tor Car Park

Winnats Pass is one of my favourite shorter hikes in the Peak District because it has incredible views and can be done in a few hours. This circular walk includes stopping in Castleton Village, but you can skip that to make the hike even shorter.

I class this hike as moderate in difficulty because a particularly steep section requires a rope for support. We went down this section which wasn’t any fun at all. I’d have preferred to come up that way instead, but that’s just how it worked out.

Other than that, it’s a manageable trail, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Winnats Pass is a limestone valley with a road snaking through the middle. Driving through is an experience all of its own, but hiking to the top of the pass is an epic adventure. Prepare for your hike using our guide to walking Winnats Pass.

6. Cave Dale Walk

woman and dog walking through cave dale in peak district

Distance: 3.5km

Ascent: 156m

Time: 1-2 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Starting Point: Buxton Road Parking

Located in Castleton Village, Cave Dale is a picturesque valley that’s perfect for a family-friendly walking adventure. Formed by glacial erosion over 300 million years ago, it comprises rocky limestone crags, natural caverns, and stunning viewpoints.

One of the highlights of the walk is the view of Peveril Castle. But don’t be fooled into thinking you can access the grounds from here. We followed a trail that appeared to lead right up to it, only to find a dead end at the top. Allow me to save you the wasted trip.

The Cave Dale trail alone is excellent for families and older hikers, but if you want to make it more challenging, you could work it in with Winnats Pass or Mam Tor. All three are located close together, so you can combine them all for a rewarding day hike.

7. Alport Castles Walks

woman in front of alport castles while walking in the peak district

Distance: 21km

Ascent: 636m

Time: 6-8 hours

Difficulty: Hard

Starting Point: Snake Pass Parking

Out of all the hikes on this list, I’d have to say this one is my favourite. It’s definitely up there with the most scenic Peak District hikes, and this particular route is easily one of the toughest as well. I urge you to start early to ensure you make it back before dark.

I loved this route because it encounters a variety of terrains and scenery, as well as what felt like untouched trails. It progresses from open moorland and scenic dales to wild forests and crashing rivers. Then, of course, there’s the star of the show, Alport Castles.

Alport Castles is an incredible rock formation caused by an enormous landslip. The jaw-dropping structures rise from the ground like towers, hence where it got its name. You can climb onto the rocks for incredible views and epic photo ops.

I should warn you that this Alport Castles hike is not for the inexperienced or faint-hearted. Many sections require unparalleled attention. The wrong footing could prove extremely dangerous. It’s also tough going on the legs in parts, so you’ll need to be confident in your abilities.

8. Ladybower Reservoir Walk

woman standing on viewpoint while hiking in the peak district

Distance: 12.5km

Ascent: 396m

Time: 4-5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Starting Point: Cutthroat Bridge Layby

Considered one of the best family-friendly walks in the Peak District, the classic Ladybower Reservoir walk circles the water at ground level. This route is great because it’s a well-surfaced path accessible for prams, wheelchairs, cyclists, and walkers of all ages and capabilities.

However, we wanted to find a more adventurous route that would allow us to view the reservoir from way above, so I marked this one out on All Trails. It started a bit slow and uninteresting, but the views once we made it up to Derwent Edge made it all worthwhile.

What’s great about this route is that it avoids the crowds which often gather in their masses at Ladybower Reservoir. The trail itself is manageable, but I’ve classed it as moderate for the distance and total ascent. It’s by no means a monstrous hike, but a fair level of fitness is undoubtedly required.

9. B29' Overexposed' Crash Site Walk

wreckage of airplane crash in the peak district

Distance: 5.5km

Ascent: 139m

Time: 1-2 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Starting Point: Snake Pass Parking

This next Peak District walking route is probably the most unique on the list. Its highlight is the wreckage of a B-29 Superfortress, which now remains a memorial site in the moors.

The fated plane was part of the United States Air Force 16th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron. It tragically crashed on 3rd November 1948 whilst descending in poor visibility. All 13 crew members died instantly.

I’ll admit it all sounds a little morbid; however, we were immensely moved by the various memorials dotted around the site. The walk is also pleasant and suitable for hikers of all ages and capabilities. Find out more in our guide to the B29′ Overexposed’ Crash Site in Glossop.

10. Stanage Edge Circular Walk

couple sitting on Stanage Edge viewpoint

Distance: 3.6km

Ascent: 72m

Time: 1-2 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Starting Point: The Dale Parking

If you want an epic viewpoint without a monstrous hike, a walk along Stanage Edge may be the ideal solution. Made famous thanks to its appearance in the BBC’s adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, the dramatic gritstone ridge overlooks sweeping views of the magnificent Hope Valley.

While this circular walking route is only 3.6 km, Stanage Edge actually continues for over 4 miles. So you could walk all away along it if you wish to. Discover all kinds of interesting rock formations, stunning viewpoints, and what’s believed to be Robin Hoods Cave.

Besides a short climb to get up onto the ridge, the walk along it is relatively flat. This makes it a popular family-friendly walk. It’s also the perfect spot to watch the sunset. For more information, check out our guide to walking Stanage Edge.

11. Goyt Valley Walk

view of reservoir on best walks in the peak district

Distance: 16.5km

Ascent: 502m

Time: 5-6 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Starting Point: The Street Parking

This circular walking route in Goyt Valley is one of the hidden gems on this list. I loved the immense variety of the trail, which includes two reservoirs, various peaks, pretty woodlands, and the ruins of a historic estate.

I consider this hike as moderate in difficulty. The walk has no especially tricky or technical areas, and the trail is easy to navigate. However, there’s a fair bit of ascending and descending, with some parts steep and slippery. A reasonable fitness level is required.

If you have the time, you can make a short detour on this hike to visit the Cat & Fiddle. This used to be the highest pub in England, but it’s now a whiskey and gin distillery providing tours.

12. Monsal Head Circular Walk

view from monsal head one of the best peak district walks

Distance: 2.4km

Ascent: 276ft

Time: < 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

Starting Point: Monsal Head Car Park

This final Peak District hike takes less than an hour to complete but still packs a punch when it comes to the views. It’s also a steep hike in sections, so you still feel like you’re getting a good workout in a short space of time.

The trailhead starts at Monsal Head Car Park. Monsal Head is considered one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the Peak District, overlooking Monsal Dale and the iconic Headstone Viaduct, which forms part of the Monsal Trail.

This Monsal Head walk then descends gradually through a woodland area before reaching the banks of the River Wye, where there’s a waterfall and plenty of spots to stop for a riverside picnic.

If your schedule allows, I recommend taking some time to explore the Monsal Trail. The 8.95-mile route that runs between Chee Dale and Bakewell was once a railway line. Now it’s an accessible route through some of the Peak District’s most spectacular limestone dales.

Hiking Essential Items

Check out our Hiking Must Haves Blog for a list of hiking essentials for each and every adventure. Alternatively, here are some essential items I recommend you have in preparation for your walk:

 

Here are some other essentials for your adventure:

Map of the Best Peak District Hikes

winnats pass view point peak district
Winnats Pass - One of our favourite view points in the peak district!

My Top Tips for Walking in the Peak District

Are dogs allowed on the trails? All of these Peak District hikes are suitable for dogs. We had our 11-year-old Jack Russell/Chihuahua with us the entire time. He loved it. But please keep dogs on a lead around livestock.

Facilities on the trails: It’s rare to find any facilities on the trails unless you pass through a village. Take enough food and water for your hike, and take all your rubbish home.

Weather: The weather in the Peak District can change quickly and dramatically. You’ll want to come prepared for all of the seasons.

Maps: You’ll want a map handy when hiking in the Peak District. We use All Trails for this, or you can buy a Peak District OS Map from Amazon.

Hiking Essentials: Don’t leave home without the hiking essentials. These include hiking footwear, a waterproof jacket, a power bank, a water bottle, hiking snacks, and a head torch. Check out my full list of hiking essentials here.

couple standing on rocks at the trinnacle
Here's us on the iconic Trinnacle Rock Formations!

Enjoy these Best Peak District Walks!

I hope you have as much fun as we did walking in the Peak District. It is one of the most underrated places in the UK, in my opinion. If you have any questions feel free to reach out! 

If you love to walk, you might also consider visiting the Lake District. There are some great hikes there as well, such as the Catbells Walk and this hike to Fleetwith Pike.

Stay adventurous and Happy travels.

Planning a trip around the Peak District? Check out our England series for more travel tips and advice. 

Charlotte & Natalie
If you enjoyed our free guide, you could support us by buying us a coffee! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, where we share more travel advice and inspiration. Charlotte & Natalie x

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Charlotte & Natalie

Hi There!

We’re Charlotte & Natalie, a British lesbian couple with a passion for travel and adventure.
Here you will find everything from LGBTQ+ travel & lifestyle advice, to comprehensive guides and itineraries designed to make your travel planning easier.
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