The Peak District is home to glorious hills, dreamy valleys, and idyllic dales; from Mam Tor to Stanage Edge. The best way to view these and see a whole range of of the national park’s best offerings is by traversing through them, as part of one of the many handpicked Peak District walks and hikes, listed below!
With its intensely scenic setting, the Peak District attracts urban hikers all year round. Whether it’s for easy, brief hikes that can be completed in a couple of hours, or lengthy 4-day journeys across the heart of the park, the Peak District can cater to all walking abilities equally. For hikes that can be completed in a couple of hours, there is the Mam Tor hill circular, that despite its brevity, offers views of the English countryside unparallel to anywhere else in the country. For adventurers willing to spend a number of days exploring the unbeatable dales and valleys of the Peak District, the impressive 46-mile Limestone Way will satisfy anyone looking to get the absolute most out of the district’s scenery.
Views this good have obviously attracted movie makers and book writers alike, and many famed settings that inspired novels or were used in Hollywood blockbusters, can be spotted while out on one of the hikes listed below.
Given the Peak Districts encompassing size, it would be impossible to list all hikes and and walks, but here are some of the most popular, and very best, that England’s first national park has to offer.
With one of the best panoramic views in England, climbing up Mam Tor hill is one of the best ways to take in the sights of the Peak District. Located near Castleton, in an area known as the High Peak, Mam Tor is a moderately easy climb, and a circular walk up and back down again will take roughly 2 hours, covering just under 5 kilometres. Standing at 517m above sea level, the ascendance is sure to be over in no time at all, with plenty of interesting sites to see on the way up, with the entrances to 4 dark caves visible around the base of the hill; Blue John Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, Peak Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern. Higher up, the remains of of both bronze and iron age forts are still visibly circling the top half of the hill. Once at the summit, you will be humbled by the views of Peveril Castle and the Hope Valley, amongst other popular Peak District sites.
Mam Tor has garnered the nickname ‘Mother Hill’ given its crumbling hillside, which has resulted in the formation of several miniature hills around its peak. This has posed a problem for the construction of roads around the hill, however, it does not pose a threat to hikers, as the hill is well kept after!
It’s a brilliant walk for hikers, both well-experienced and inexperienced, and recommended for dog walkers- as long as the dog is kept on a lead.
The Limestone Way
The Kendal Limestone way is a long distance, 46-mile hike piercing through the Derbyshire, piercing through the heart of the Peak District, and showcasing the most fascinating examples of the areas famed limestone rocks. In order to complete the Limestone Way in its entirety, the standard time scale is roughly three days-worth of steady hiking. Of course, the option is there to complete a small stretch of it, which is what many tourists who visit the Limestone Way tend to do. Signposted well along the way, the hike starts at Castleton, due to its easy accessibility by bus, and passes through exquisite dales, and quaint villages – including Monyash, Bonsall, Thrope, and ending in Rocester. 300-year old limestone is ubiquitous throughout the trial- hence the name!
Cromford Village and Mill Walk
For more of a history-orientated walk, why not explore the Peak District village of Cromford, Derbyshire as part of a slightly challenging 5-mile walk, which will also take you to Cromford’s historic mill. Setting off from the village itself, hikers will get to see the former industrial epicentre in its entirety, including the quaint market square, original mill workers cottages, and a small selection of shops; the high peak railway is also worth visiting, offering a superb panoramic of the village. The walk then proceeds on to towards the Cromford Canal, which is another piece of valuable Peak District history, as it was originally made to transport limestone. The canal features terrific scenery, boasts a range of wildlife, and is located next to Lea Hurst House, a former summer home of Florence Nightingale.
The canal then leads to the historic Arkwright Mill – the original water-powered mill! Opened in 1772, the mill was a feat of industrial ingenuity at the time. Visitors can learn all about it at the recently installed interactive exhibition, which can be found inside the mill itself.
The walk then leads to Cromford wharf, which has a café and cheese shop nearby. Cromford encompasses many of the aspects that would come to define Britain as the ‘workshop of the world’, it is well worth visiting for history enthusiasts!
Hathersage to Stanage Edge
For a lengthy walk set to the backdrop of the scenery that inspired Charlotte Bronte, try the 9-mile Hathersage to Stanage Edge. Hathersage is a popular place for Peak District tourists, namely for its literacy connections. As you pass to the outskirts of town to begin the hike, you will see the old Bronte house on Birly Road, closely followed by North Lees Hall, the inspiration behind Thornfield Manor in ‘Jane Eyre’.
The hike itself, although long, is moderately easy- but it is worth noting that it involves several different terrains- so dress appropriately.
After traversing through a field a small woodland area, you will reach the awe-inspiring Stanage Edge, a gritstone escarpment with some of the most unique views in the whole of the Peak District; stretching out for miles, the Stanage Edge is the perfect place to take in the views of the Hope Valley and Hallam Moors. With its steep edges, Stanage Edge has become a popular location for rock climbers. This beautiful setting was also utilised in the 2005 adaption of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, starring Kiera Knightly.