The National Park lies immediately on the eastern
borders of Greater Manchester County, and is accessible by train
or car within 20 minutes from the city centre, and several scheduled
public buses go directly into the park 2 or 3 times an hour. It
is Manchester’s nearest countryside.
Trains from Manchester Piccadilly Rail Station run regularly every
day to Buxton, Matlock, Glossop and Whaley Bridge.
Visitors wishing to access the highest hills should consult local
weather forecasts, and read all mountain safety notices at access
points. Please note that the building of fires and camping are strictly
forbidden, as the pathways may be ancient rights of way, but the
land over which they pass is invariably privately owned, and departure
from pathways is technically a trespass.
Visitors might also note that there are actually no “peaks” in the
Peak District – the hills are gentle and rounded slopes – the name
“Peak” is a corruption of the old English word “Pict”. Before the
building of roadways, major movement throughout Britain was often
by remote pathways, and this range of hills was the favourite route
used by Scots (or Picts) invaders from the north. Hence, it was
once “The Pict District”.
The Peak District Landscape
The Peak District National Park
offers a wide variety of landscapes, from moorland, to grassy hills,
craggy rocks, stone walls, lakes, streams and innumerable public footpaths.
It is a landscape of severe contrasts : in summer time it is a place
where visitors may enjoy a quiet leisurely stroll, while in winter
it can become arctic in conditions where only the most intrepid walkers
and climbers dare tread. It is England’s most southerly highland country,
the very end of the Pennine Hills which form the backbone to most
of northern Britain, and which divides Lancashire in the west from
Yorkshire in the east.
Most of the Peak District’s 555 square miles 143,824 hectares) is
above 2,000 feet (610m), and while for the most part it is centred
on Derbyshire, it also extends into the surrounding Counties of Cheshire,
Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
Peak District Villages
There are many delightfully pretty
villages nestling in its valleys – Whaley Bridge, Chapel-en-le-Frith,
Tideswell, Bakewell (famed for its Bakewell Tarts), Monyash (pronounced
“moon-ash”), and many others, as well as a few major towns like Chesterfield,
Buxton, and the County Town of Matlock.
Buxton is a major tourist attraction, as it has
been for several centuries on account of its Baths with their health-giving
spa water, famed from Roman times. Bubbling up from an underground
reservoir, its waters maintain a constant 83°F (28°C). The
town also has many fine buildings, including the Georgian Crescent
built by the 5th Duke of Devonshire, the Old Hotel dating back to
1570, once the host to Mary Queen of Scots, the magnificent Devonshire
Hospital with its spectacular dome, and the elegantly decorated Edwardian
Opera House, home of the annual Buxton International Festival.
Within the National Park lie many
great Country Houses, including Chatsworth
House , home of the Dukes of Devonshire, and Haddon
Hall near Bakewell. The Peaks are a great venue for hill walkers
and climbers, with several peaks, all over 3000 feet to challenge all
but the faint hearted. Kinder Scout, White Peak and Dark Peak, all present
their own particular challenge, and can quickly change from pleasant
garden atmospheres to raging tempests or dark and dismal fogbound wastelands.
Walks & Trails in the Peak District
For the less adventurous walker,
there are many designated and easy trails to follow in the Peak District
– many are disused railway tracks, most have picnic areas and toilet
facilities. Trails are:
Biddulph Grange Country Park
Black Rocks Picnic Site
Cromford Buxton Country Park
Coombs Valley RSPB Trail
Erwood Hall, Goyt Valley
Lyme Park Gritstone Trail
High Peak Trail
Ham Country Park
Ladderedge County Park, Leek.
Longendale Trail, Hadfield.
Mam Nick, off Rushup Edge
Manifold Trail, Waterhouses.
Middlewood Way, Macclesfield.
Monsall Trail, Bakewell.
Sett Valley Trail, Hayfield-New
Tissington Trail, Ashbourne.
Tittesworth Reservoir, Leek.
Peak District Tourist Information Centres
Old Market Hall, Bridge Street Tel: 01335-343666.
The Crescent, Buxton. Tel: 01289-73153.
The Gatehouse, Victoria Street. Tel: 01457-855920
Town Hall, Market Place. Tel: 01625-504203.
Peak District Activities
Peak Activities Limited
Managing Director: Dr Iain Jennings
Hathersage, Derbyshire S32 1DD. Tel 01433-650345.
Website: www.iain.co.uk. Email: email@example.com.
Provider of utdoor activities for people visiting the Peak District
and Lake including abseiling, caving, climbing, led-walking, potholing,
sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, orienteering, treasure hunts and many
more outdoor activities – all suitable for groups of people or for individuals.
Fully AALA licensed to operate with under 18s as well as with adults.
See Also: Peak District Caves & Caverns