36 Recommended Things To Do in the Peak District
Having spent a lot of time in the Peak District over the last 10 years, and being asked for recommendations from time to time, I've made this list of suggested Peak District activities. I haven't tried to be exhaustive, but instead focus on things I have enjoyed or that are on my own to-do list.
More activities are listed for the northern half of the Peak District, "Dark Peak", so named for its dark gritstone and moorland landscape, as opposed to the more southerly limestone and green hills of White Peak. This is simply because I've spent more time there.
1. Mam Tor, near Castleton
Approach from Castleton or Edale via Hollins Cross. Or for a short option, there's a car park higher up on the western side.
2. Win Hill, near Hope
Park near the Ladybower dam (towards Bamford) and climb straight up the steep path to Win Hill summit. Or take a more gradual ascent from Hope or Alston. Fantastic views over the Dark Peak area.
3. Surprise View & Millstone Edge, near Hathersage
Short walk with great views over the Hope Valley. Car park near marked view point on A6187 south east of Hathersage. Fantastic in late summer with purple heather everywhere.
4. Longshaw Estate and Padley Gorge
Short walk down from National Trust Longshaw Estate down Burbage Brook into Padley Gorge. Higger Tor and Surprise View are also within easy reach.
5. Higger Tor and Burbage Rocks
A popular spot with an easy walk to great views from Higger Tor. The Fox House pub can be factored into a circular walk to Burbage Bridge.
6. Walk the River Derwent
The Derwent Valley Heritage Way runs along the River Derwent from Ladybower Reservoir to Derby and beyond. The Hatherage to Chatsworth stretch is particularly nice. There are fun stepping stones near Offerton (west of Hathersage).
7. Explore (get lost on) Kinder Scout
Hike up Grindsbrook Clough from Edale or follow the start of the Pennine Way up Jacob's Ladder. Find isolation amongst the peat bogs on the plateau on top. Compass advised, it's easy to get lost up there.
8. WW2 plane crash remains at Bleaklow
There are crash remains from WW2 aircraft all over the Peak District. Bleaklow has one of the larger sites near Shelf Stones (OS grid reference SK 09042 94892) where a B-29 Superfortress "Over Exposed" crashed in 1948 (photo here). There are several other sites near Bleaklow.
My post on walks accessible by public transport gives suggested routes for trips into the Peaks by bus and train.
9. Mountain Biking
10. Hire bikes are Fairholmes, cycle round Derwent, Howden Reservoirs
Fairholmes, by the Derwent Reservoir, has a bike hire shop. A loop around the Howden Reservoir gives a nice gentle ride.
11. Monsal Trail
The old Midland Railway line is now 8.5 miles of gentle bike riding from Bakewell through Monsaldale. Great views along its length. The old railway tunnels add interest. Bike hire is available at Hassop, see below.
Coffee & Cafes
12. Woodbine Cafe, Hope
Small traditional cafe with open fire on the main road in Hope. Great retreat after a winter day out.
13. Hassop Station bookshop and cafe
The old Hassop railway station next to the Monsal trail is now a bookshop and cafe. It makes a very pleasant stop if cycling the trail. There is bike rental on site, including tandems.
14. Elliots, Hathersage
Great coffee and cakes next to the Little John Pub in Hathersage.
15. Outside Cafe, Hathersage
Hearty cafe food above the Outside outdoors equipment shop on the Hathersage high street.
16. Hope Valley Ice Cream
Great selection of flavours of delicious ice cream made and sold within metres of the cows that produce the milk at Thorpe Farm. North of the A6187 between Hathersage and Bamford Station.
17. Thornbridge Brewery Tours, Bakewell
Thornbridge ales are now popular across the UK. They do a tour of their Bakewell brewery. More information here.
Other Active Pursuits
18. Rock Climbing
Stanage Edge, Cubar, Frogatt, The Roaches, so many places. UKClimbing.com have a nice write-up of Stanage here.
19. Hathersage Lido
Great outdoor swimming pool. Tends to get very busy on sunny days. Heated to a nice temperature, so still pleasant on grey days.
20. Wild Swimming
WildSwimming.co.uk lists a few swimming spots in Peak District rivers. The best one seems to be Slippery Stones north of Howden Reservoir, though the River Derwent at Chatsworth is very popular.
The National Trust's Longshaw Estate has an introduction to geocaching with GPS equipment available for free (details here). For the more experienced geocacher, there are caches sprinkled all over the Peaks.
22. Canoeing at Tittesworth Reservoir
Canoe hire is available at Peak Pursuits on the western side of the reservoir. Near Leek.
23. Sailing at Carsington Water
Hire sailing dinghies and windsurfing equipment. Near Ashbourne.
Stanage Plantation, The Roaches. UKClimbing.com lists some Peak District bouldering highlights here.
There are several interesting scrambling routes listed on UK Scrambles.
26. Chestnut Centre Owls & Otters
A wildlife park specialising in owls and otters, the Chestnut Centre has plenty of both, and more. Slackhall, nr Chapel en le Frith
27. Castleton show caves
28. Treasure Hunt across the Peaks
For grown-ups as well as kids. A different way to see the Peak District, Clues To Go make fun fact-finding treasure hunts that you can buy for a small fee and print from their website. The "Bakewell to Chapel En Le Frith" and "Matlock to Bakewell" driving routes explore the central and south Peak District respectively.
29. Alton Towers
The UK's top theme park with some fantastic rollercoasters. Not quite in the Peak District, but close enough.
Culture & History
29. Chatsworth House & Gardens
Historic stately home and gardens. More information at www.chatsworth.org
30. The Folk Train
Once per month, take the train from Sheffield to Edale with folk musicians on board, enjoy the music on the journey and at The Rambler pub next to the station in Edale. There is now also a Manchester to Hathersage Folk Train. See www.folktrain.org.uk
31. Haddon Hall
The medieval manor house and gardens, Haddon Hall, dates from between the 12th and 17th centuries.
Known for its Tart (though the shops sell Bakewell Pudding which predates the Tart), Bakewell is a historic market tower on the River Wye.
Roman spa town known for its spring water and Georgian architecture.
34. Chatsworth Country Fair
Large summer country show in the grounds of Chatsworth House. Features local food producers, equestrian events, vintage cars, falconry; the usual stuff of country shows.
35. Grindleford Gallop
A 21-mile fell race in March, starting from Grindleford and making a large loop south via Eyam and Hassop, before returning over Baslow Edge.
36. Christmas Carols in a Cave at "Devil's Arse", Castleton
Brass band and carols in Peak Cavern near Castleton for several December nights each year. More information here.