Looking for all the best things to do in the Peak District? We’ve got you covered! In this guide, I share all of the top places to see in the Peak District. As well as where to stay, how to get around, and our top tips for visiting!
After our recent visit to the Peak District and being blown away by its sheer beauty and diversity, I wondered why this stunning national park isn’t raved about more often. We found so many cool things to do in the Peak District!
From the epic Peak District hikes and jaw-dropping viewpoints to its picturesque villages fit for a postcard, there’s so much to love about this UK beauty spot. You could spend weeks, if not months exploring all there is to see, but for now, let’s look at some of the highlights.
In this guide, I share 15 of what I consider to be the best things to see and do in the Peak District. I’ll also include any other information that might be handy when planning your trip. Let’s get to it!
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Peak District FAQs
Before I jump into our list of things to do in the Peak District, here are some tips to help you plan your trip. Skip over it if you have this bit covered, but it might be helpful to some.
Best Time to Visit
The Peak District is all about spending time outdoors, so ideally, you want to plan your visit for when it’s warm and dry. But, of course, this is the UK. The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s better to come prepared than rely on it.
Plan your visit between May and September for the best chance of good weather. At the very least, it will be warm, and if you get lucky, you’ll also get some dry, sunny days.
Another thing to consider is the crowds. Some parts of the Peak District are remote and rarely visited; however, some of the more popular hikes and villages can get busy on weekends and during school holidays.
As a guideline, we spent 3-4 weeks in the Peak District in June, which was the perfect time to visit. The weather was mostly warm and dry, and so long as we avoided popular spots on weekends, we had no issues with overcrowding.
Getting Around in the Peak District
I recommend having a vehicle to get around the Peak District. The national park covers a vast area, and while there is some public transport, having a car will allow you more flexibility.
Ourselves, we got around the peaks in our self-converted campervan. The Peak District is the perfect spot for van lifers, with many campsites and wild camping spots dotted around the national park.
If you need public transport, the Hope Valley train line, which runs between Manchester and Sheffield, has several stops in the Peak District, including Edale, Hope and Hathersage. There are also several bus routes.
How Long to Stay in the Peak District
I mentioned earlier that you could easily spend weeks in the Peak District, discovering all that there is to see and do. But most of you will only have a few days, so you will need to pick out the things that stand out to you and build your itinerary around that.
Where to Stay in the Peak District
Since we stayed in our campervan whilst visiting the Peak District, I can’t give any recommendations. However, I do know that there are various hotels, b&bs, and campsites in the area.
Some might say that Castleton is the best place to base yourself in the Peak District since it’s in the heart of the Hope Valley and close to many of the adventurous Peak District attractions and hikes. Another popular spot is Bakewell for those looking for a more relaxing getaway.
Hiking Essential Items
Here are some essential items I recommend you have in preparation for your walk:
- Sturdy worn-in hiking boots
- Twin Skin Socks
- A waterproof hiking backpack
- A refillable water bottle
- A waterproof jacket
- Life straw
- Hiking snacks
- Blister plasters
- First aid kit
- Power bank
Here are some other essential for your adventure:
Best Things to Do in The Peak District
Okay, let’s jump into what you came here for. We ticked off everything on this list during our 3-week visit and can assure you that these are the best things to do in the Peak District.
From gentle walks and challenging hikes to charming villages and breathtaking viewpoints, I hope you enjoy these 15 unmissable Peak District attractions.
1. Mam Tor
Mam Tor, meaning “Mother Hill”, is one of the most famous peaks in the Peak District. Accessible via a fairly short walk which starts just outside Castleton, it can be enjoyed by all the family and allows for stunning panoramic views over the scenic Hope Valley.
The quickest way to walk to Mam Tor is to park on Mam Tor Road and start your walk from there. It’s a 15-20 minute climb to the summit, but it’s well-paved and easy to manage. So long as you aren’t afraid of a little leg burn, you should manage it with no issues at all.
With its unobstructed 360-degree views, Mam Tor is the perfect spot to watch sunrise or sunset. There are also plenty of opportunities to increase the length and intensity of your hike for those looking for more of a challenge.
I couldn’t write a list of things to do in the Peak District without including Bakewell. This picturesque town is one of the prettiest in the national park. You could easily spend an entire day here getting lost amongst its twisted lanes and adorable local shops.
There’s so much to see and do in Bakewell. Of course, you must try the traditional Bakewell desserts, the Bakewell Pudding and the Bakewell Tart. But there is so much more to it than that. Stroll along the River Wye, visit Love Lock Bridge, and don’t miss the stunning All Saints Church.
3. Stanage Edge
Stanage Edge is one of the most famous viewpoints in the Peak District. A dramatic gritstone ridge stretching for 4 miles across the Hope Valley, it once appeared in the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice.
One scene saw Keira Knightley standing on the ridge overlooking jaw-dropping views of the valley. Fans come from far and wide to bag themselves a photo on the infamous ‘Keira Knightley Rock’. But between you and me, there are countless spots just like that one all along the ridge!
If you fancy a walk on Stanage Edge, you have to check out Robin Hood’s Cave. Legend has it that Robin Hood used this very cave as a hideout. But either way, it’s a really cool spot to visit – especially at sunset.
4. Winnats Pass
Winnats Pass is one of the UK’s most famous and picturesque hill passes. Its name translates to ‘windy gates’ and if you come through here on a windy day, you’ll understand why.
The pass comprises dramatic limestone cliffs with a road snaking through the middle. Driving through makes for an unforgettable road trip, but you can also hike to the top of the pass for an even better perspective.
Start your walk to Winnats Pass in Castleton, or for a shorter walk, there’s a car park at Speedwell Cavern directly in front of the pass. It’s a sketchy climb to reach the top, but worth it for the incredible views.
5. Cave Dale
Just around the corner from Winnats Pass is another significant limestone valley and an easy Peak District walk that’s fun for all the family. Kids especially will love this Cave Dale walking route with plenty of rocks and natural caverns for them to play on.
The highlight for the adults is undoubtedly the views which include Peveril Castle, and only get better the higher and deeper into the valley you go. There’s a gradual ascent and some rocky terrain; otherwise, this is one of the most family-friendly things to do in the Peak District.
6. Kinder Scout
Kinder Scout is the highest point in the national park, providing some of the Peak District’s most challenging but exciting walks. It’s a firm favourite amongst hikers looking to explore its vast moorland, gentle streams, unique rocks, and even a waterfall.
You might also know Kinder Scout as the site of the 1932 Mass Trespass. A peaceful protest involving thousands of people from neighbouring cities, it was the catalyst for allowing free roaming on access lands.
At 636 metres high, there is no easy route to get atop the Kinder Plateau. My favourite way is this Kinder Scout walk from Edale, ascending via Grindsbrook Clough and descending via Jacobs Ladder. It isn’t a hike for the faint-hearted, but it’s quite an adventure for those up to the challenge!
7. Ladybower Reservoir
Ladybower Reservoir consistently makes the list of the best things to do in the Peak District. It’s one of three scenic reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley and attracts millions of visitors each year.
The most popular thing to do at Ladybower Reservoir is to walk or cycle around it. The classic route is just under 6 miles, and its flat terrain means it’s accessible for cyclists, wheelchairs, prams, and walkers.
For those looking for a more challenging hike, I recommend this circular walk of Ladybower Reservoir which includes stunning views from Derwent Edge.
Another spot considered to be one of the best villages in the Peak District is Castleton. It’s been mentioned a few times on this list already since it’s close to many notable hikes. However, the village itself is also well worth a visit.
I love simply walking around Castleton, admiring its narrow streets and pretty stone cottages. However, there are also many things to do and see, like the Peveril Castle ruins, its unique local stores, and its plentiful cosy pubs.
9. Speedwell Cavern
While we are talking about Castleton, it’s the perfect opportunity to mention another notable attraction that proves immensely popular amongst visitors.
You see, Castleton is home to four show caverns. In these underground wonderlands, you can discover all kinds of stalactites, stalagmites, rocks, minerals and fossils. It’s the only place in the world where you can see the rare Blue John stone in its natural form.
The four caves in Castleton are Peak Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, Blue John Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern. Regardless of which one you choose, this will be one of the most interesting and unique things you do in the Peak District.
10. Alport Castles
Hands up if you’re up for an adventure. Because you’re going to need to be if you want to visit this next Peak District attraction. Accessing this hidden gem in the remote valleys of the Dark Peak is challenging but exciting at the same time.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? And it is. Alport Castles is a series of unique rock formations that rise from the ground like towers. From a distance, it looks like an eerie castle in the sky, hence the name. They are the result of an enormous landslip, said to be the biggest in the UK.
You’ll need to be prepared for a strenuous day hike to get here. This circular walk to Alport Castles took us 7-hours and was by no means a hike for the faint-hearted. But it was also one of our favourite treks of all our time in the Peak District, so experienced hikers won’t want to miss it.
11. Monsal Trail
Another unmissable thing to do in the Peak District is The Monsal Trail. This is another accessible route for all to enjoy; its flat terrain is ideal for cyclists, horse riders, prams and wheelchairs.
The 8.5-mile trail runs from Chee Dale to Bakewell and was originally a railway line. The original tunnels and Headstone Viaduct remain as part of the trail, which traverses some of the Peak Districts’ most striking scenery.
Another highlight of the Monsal Trail is Monsal Head—a famous viewpoint overlooking the enchanting Monsal Valley. There’s a pub, cafe, and car park at the viewpoint, so you don’t even need to walk to it if you don’t want to.
12. The Trinnacle
One thing we loved about the Peak District is that there’s still so much that remains undiscovered. This makes it a playground for adventurous travellers who love to make their own path rather than follow one.
That was especially the case with The Trinnacle. It’s hard to believe that this breathtaking viewpoint is in the UK, let alone just 15 miles outside of Manchester. It’s by far one of the most incredible places to see in the Peak District, but you’ll have to be prepared to sweat to get there.
You can access the 3-tiered megalith known as The Trinnacle by parking at the Binn Green car park in Oldham. From there, it’s a 6.5 km circular hike which involves almost 350 metres of steep incline. If that sounds too strenuous, this circular walk of Dovestone Reservoir is an easier alternative.
13. Goyt Valley
The Goyt Valley is another underrated part of the Peak District, but I fell in love with its idyllic scenery and remote walking trails. Home to two reservoirs, various peaks, diverse terrains, and the remains of a historic estate, the opportunities for adventure are endless.
To access the trails, you can park at Errwood Car Park. It does get quite busy here, but most people are here for the reservoir. Once you get out onto the trails, there’s barely anybody around.
You can also walk to The Cat & Fiddle from here, which used to be the highest pub in England. Now it’s a gin and whiskey distillery providing tours.
14. Chatsworth House
Chatsworth House often tops the list of things to do in the Peak District. A grand estate, home to the Cavendish family since the 1550s, it’s one of the most visited country houses in all of the UK.
Personally, I think it’s one of the least interesting Peak District attractions. But that’s speaking from a place that prefers nature over architecture. It’s undoubtedly an impressive property, and its feature in various films and tv shows proves a testament to that.
As you’ve probably gathered, visiting the Peak District is all about enjoying the great outdoors and spending time in nature. So if you really want to get into the spirit of things, a camping trip in the hills will make your visit unforgettable.
There are tons of campsites dotted around the Peak District. Many people bring their backpacks and camping gear and walk from campsite to campsite. Others pitch up in one campsite and travel around in their car. Plenty of people also visit the peaks in their campervan.
If you’re experienced enough, you could even look at wild camping in the Peak District. We saw adventurous campers doing this all over the national park, and it’s something we have vowed to try next time.
Enjoy These Best Things to do in The Peak District
I hope you enjoy these epic Peak District attractions as much as we did. The Peak District is one of the most beautiful and adventurous locations in the UK, and whatever you do, I’m sure you will have the most incredible time.
If you’re visiting the area soon, you might find some of our Peak District articles interesting. They include the best Peak District Walks, the Best Viewpoints in the Peak District, and the Best Peak District Villages.
If you have any questions, please reach out in the comment section below. Otherwise, I wish you happy and safe travels.