Peak District National Park, Britain’s first national park, was established in 1951. The Park, situated across the southern hills of the Pennines, lies mainly in Derbyshire. Read more about my favorite things to see in the Peak District.
The Peak District has two contrasting landscape areas. The White Peak contains mostly green fields and dales divided by sloping limestone walls. The Dark Peak is arc-shaped, with exposed features and isolated moorlands, along with a large rolling plateau covered by heather moorlands and gritstone cliffs. Beyond the National Park, there are many things to see in the Peak District. So let’s start exploring together the Peak District area.
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My Favorite Things to See in the Peak District
Natural beauty is obviously the most important feature of The Peak District. However, in addition to peaks and hills, beautiful and quaint towns dot the rolling hills which invite you for a visit.
Chatsworth House is one of my favorite British manor houses, with an impressive art collection and exquisite gardens. Definitely comes on top of my list of things to see in the Peak District.
Monsal Trail cuts through the hills and peaks with a few tunnels and allows you to explore and access the natural beauty of this area.
Buxton is a sleepy mountain town with beautiful gardens and and interesting history.
Matlock and Matlock Baths together with Buxton give you a good glimpse of the mountain towns in the Peak District.
Tideswell is a beautiful village with a gorgeous country church and stone houses.
Map of my favorite things to see in Peak district national park
See my photos from Matlock Bath
1. Chatsworth House
Amazing view of Chatsworth House and the beautiful surrounding grounds
See my photos from Chatsworth House
Chatsworth House, the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, tops the list of what to see in the Peak District. Situated in the rolling hills northeast of Bakewell, fifteen minutes from the Peak District National Park’s eastern boundary, the exquisite house, part of a 25-square-mile estate, includes a garden, a farmyard, a playground, and parklands.
Chatsworth House has 126 rooms, with approximately 25 rooms open to the public. The art collection, among the largest in Europe, is one of the spectacular things to see in the Peak District. The collection features many famous works including Rembrandt’s Portrait of an Oriental and Rubens’ A Peasant Girl Churning Butter and Two Franciscan Friars.
Chatsworth House’s most ornate rooms include the Painted Hall, with 17th century paintings depicting Julius Caesar’s life; the Great Dining Room; and the Library, with books dating back to the 1500’s. The Sculpture Gallery’s collection dates to the early 19th century. The Sketch Gallery is spread over several bedrooms and service rooms.
Constructed in 1555, Chatsworth House’s gardens are one of the breathtaking places to see in the Peak District. The garden’s attractions include the Cascade, a series of stone steps with waterfalls; the Maze; and the Canal Pond and Great Fountain. The gardens also feature Seahorse and Willow Tree shaped fountains; several greenhouses; and Flora’s Temple, with a statue of the goddess Flora.
The River Derwent goes through Chatsworth Park at the estate’s entrance. A narrow bridge over the River Derwent provides a great view of Chatsworth House. At the farmyard, children can watch cow and goat milking demonstrations, and play in the adventure playground.
2. Monsal Trail
Peak District National Park, England – Beautiful view of the Headstone Viaduct seen from Monsal Head.
See my photos from Peak District
The Monsal Trail, once part of a railway, follows the Wye Valley in the Peak District National Park from Wye Dale to Bakewell. Among the picturesque places to see in the Peak District, the Monsal Trail hugs the River Wye and passes through limestone dales such as Chee Dale and Miller’s Dale.
Wye Dale is full of colorful flora and wildlife during the summer. Chee Dale is a steep-sided gorge that blossoms with vegetation and is a birdwatcher’s paradise. A former Lime Kiln is visible from the Trail. At Miller’s Dale, there is much greenery along the River Wye, with limestone quarries and areas where lava once flowed from now dormant volcanoes. The Trail passes through several tunnels.
Stepping stones allows hikers to follow the Wye River gorge
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While many walkers stay entirely on the Monsal Trail, there is a path that follows the River Wye downstream between Wye Dale and Miller’s Dale that showcases the Dales’ limestone scenery. The path, with flowers and greenery, features woodlands, limestone steps, a plank bridge, rock outcrops, and a boardwalk. A portion of the path consists of two sets of stepping stones on the River Wye.
Between Miller’s Dale and Bakeswell, the Monsal Trail passes by the Monsal Headstone Viaduct over the River Wye, which is a much photographed viewpoint. Nearby, Fin Cop Hill was a defensive fort location and mass burial site during the Iron Age.
Buxton, England – Beautiful view of the George Hotel from the Pavilion Gardens
See my photos from Buxton
Buxton is the highest elevation town in Britain, at 1,000 feet above sea level. Surrounded by the Peak District National Park, Buxton is a ten minute drive east along the A6 to the Peak District’s limestone dales. Best known for its spring water, Buxton is one of the places to see in the Peak District for its scenery and history.
Buxton’s geothermal spring water, revered for its healing properties, comes from St. Ann’s Spring. While much of the water is piped to a nearby bottling plant, St. Ann’s Well, at the foot of The Slopes, provides a constant supply of spring water. Each July, the well is elaborately decorated by locals and blessed by clergy.
One of the prettiest things to see in the Lake District are the Pavilion Gardens, which sit on the banks of the River Wye in the center of Buxton. The well-kept Pavilion Gardens feature calming botanical gardens; a tropical greenhouse; a play area; a bandstand; a fish pond; an indoor swimming pool; and Victorian-style buildings with a theatre, shops, and restaurants. There are walking paths around the river, the surrounding lakes, and the greenery.
Poole’s Cavern, used for worship and shelter during prehistoric and Roman times, is known for its unique crystal formations, including the longest stalactite formation in the area. The formations are showcased by LED lights.
Buxton Country Park is accessible from Poole’s Cavern. The Park has three trails, one with fossil sculptures, one with wildflowers and a high wire course, and one with quarry views. Each trail finishes at the summit of Grin Low Hill, where Stone Age farmers held religious rites. Solomon’s Temple, built on top of a Bronze Age burial chamber, sits at the summit. The top of Solomon’s Temple, accessible by a small stairway, offers photogenic views of Buxton.
4. Matlock Bath
High Street in Matlock Bath is filled with weekend tourists.
See my photos from Matlock Bath
Matlock Bath, on the River Derwent, just ten minutes from the southeast boundary of the Peak District National Park, was developed as one of Britain’s first tourist destinations. One of the charming places to see in the Peak District, Matlock Bath resembles a seaside resort with family attractions, fish-and-chip shops, and charming hotels and guest houses.
The Lovers Walks, a series of footpaths stretching along the riverside and over splendid cliffs, cover both sides of the River Derwent. A good place to access the Lovers Walks is the Jubilee Bridge, located across from the Ashdale Guest House. From the Bridge, the Lovers Walks form a loop with marvelous cliff and river views. Instead of returning to the Jubilee Bridge, cross the river and return to Matlock Bath via Derwent Gardens.
Derwent Gardens, one of the more beautiful things to see in the Peak District, is bordered by the Lovers Walks and the A6. The Gardens are best known for its thermal springs, which supply water for the pools and water gardens. There are beautifully landscaped gardens, alcoves, and grottos, plus rowboat access to the River Derwent.
One of the family-friendly places to see in the Peak District is the Matlock Bath Aquarium and Attractions. Located in a Victorian-style building, the Aquarium exhibits 45 different species of fish. The petrifying well uses thermal water to make objects look like stone. Other exhibits include a hologram gallery, a gem and fossil collection, and a gallery describing Matlock Bath’s history.
5. Heights of Abraham
A wooden sculpture of the 2012 Olympic Torch stands next to the old Prospect Tower which was completed in 1844
See my photos from Heights of Abraham
Resembling the Plains of Abraham in Canada, where British Army Commander James Wolfe died in battle, the Heights of Abraham is a Victorian era hilltop park, located 20 minutes east of the Peak District National Park, past the quarries and the Matlock business district. The park, with a variety of attractions, is one of the scenic and historic things to see in the Peak District.
The Heights of Abraham, accessible by cable car, offers spectacular views of the Derbyshire Dales. There are guided tours of the Great Masson and Great Rutland Caverns, which were mined for lead ore and fluorspar. Tinker’s Shaft offers fabulous views of the Derbyshire Dales. Exhibition halls tell the history of the Heights of Abraham and Matlock Bath.
From the top of Victoria Tower, there are majestic panoramic views of the Derbyshire Dales. Numerous trails allow visitors to explore the Heights’ estate along with lifelike sculptures and butterflies. The magnificent surroundings highlight the park’s picnic spots. During the summer, a Punch & Judy show, one of the uniquely British things to see in the Peak District, entertains the family.
Tideswell, England – St John the Baptist church.
See my photos from Tideswell
Tideswell, surrounded by magnificent limestone uplands, sits at 1,000 feet above sea level, and is among the historic places to see in the Peak District. Centrally located inside the Peak District National Park between Buxton and Bakewell, Tideswell has lots of history. Settled in pre-Roman times, the village was a lead mining and textile production center. Today, Tideswell is best known for its church and its residential architecture.
St John the Baptist Church, built in the 14th century, is also called the Cathedral of the Peak. On the Gothic architecture lovers’ list of what to see in the Peak District, two different Gothic styles were used in building the Church. The main body, the aisles, the corridors, and the wings are in late Gothic style. The altar area and the tower are in perpendicular Gothic style. The architecture symbolized the village’s prosperity at the time. with impressive wood carvings, brasses, monuments, and tall glass windows.
The village of Tideswell itself contains houses and buildings made of local limestone for the wailing, millstone grit for the dressings, and either stone tiles or Welsh slate for the roofs. The more prominent buildings were built entirely of millstone grit, which enabled ornamental details to be carved.
7. Padley Gorge
Hiking the Padley Gorge in the Peak District
photo by Gregory Deryckère
Located in the eastern part of the Peak District National Park, near Grindleford, a half hour from Sheffield, Padley Gorge is perfect for family-friendly hiking. Padley Gorge, one of the most photogenic places to see in the Peak District, is a narrow, deep ravine valley surrounded by ancient oak and birch trees, with the crystal clear Burbage Brook running through it.
Padley Gorge is surrounded with moorheads; moss-covered trees, boulders, and rocks; and during summer, purple heather. The Gorge’s most unusual tree is a “money tree” with hammered-in coins. To the north and east of the Gorge, there are stone circles and ancient prehistoric settlements. The Fort of Carl Wark, an Iron Age monument, looks down from the horizon. Burbage Brook runs through dark grit rocks and stone, creating small waterfalls. Wooden bridges allow hikers to cross the Brook. Birdwatchers will spot many birds, some endangered, in the Gorge. In autumn, the trees provide splendid foliage. Misty days bring a magical fairytale-like appearance to the Gorge’s forest.
Padley Gorge’s main hiking trail is the Padley Gorge Trail. The trail begins at the Grindleford train station and follows along Burbage Brook and ends at the A6187. At the halfway point, the Padley Gorge Trail intersects with two other trails. To the west, a trail leads to Owler Tor, a gritstone outcrop. To the east, a trail leads to the Longshaw Estate, a National Trust property with ancient woodlands and heather moorlands. The Longshaw Estate trail leads back to the Padley Gorge Trail near the A6187.
Is the Peak District Worth Visiting?
Visiting the Peak District has always been a highlight from all my trips to the UK. Especially if you like nature and hiking, you will find the Peak District beautiful, very relaxing and not crowded. With so many things to do in the Peak District, this beautiful area is worth visiting.
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