The Peak District is located right in the middle of England, close to major cities like Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, and Birmingham. The popularity of the park is in part due to its proximity to these major urban centres, as it sees around 9 million visitors every year. But another thing that makes the park attractive is its blend of outdoor activities and cultural sites.
Hiking and Biking
The Peak District is ever-popular with walkers, as it contains an extensive network of over 1,800 miles of trails and public footpaths. There are also plenty of open-access areas that are suitable for hillwalking, orienteering, and hiking. There are several bridleways through the park that are used by mountain bikers and horse-riders, and some of the long-distance trails are accessible by bikers as well as hikers, such as the High Peak Trail.
The long-distance trail of the Pennine Way, part of the UK National Trail System, starts its life in the Peak District, at Edale. It eventually leads into Scotland after passing through the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland, but even though it is not Britain’s longest national trail, it is often referred to as the most challenging. The section through the Peak District from Edale to Marsden is about 30 miles long, so is a stretch to make it in a single day. Most healthy hikers spend two or even three days doing this route.
Towns and Villages
Due to its history, many of the settlements in the Peak District are very interesting to visit, offering a slice of the English past. Within the national park, Bakewell is the largest town in the Peak District, with its five-arched bridge over the River Wye dating back to the 13th century. There is no evidence to suggest that Bakewell Tarts – the yummy tea-time cakes – originated from this town, but it’s certainly a good place to sit down at a tea room and order one. Staying at one of the Derbyshire Country Cottages around the Bakewell areas is a popular option amongst visitors to the Peak District.
Chatsworth House is considered to be one of Britain’s best examples of stately homes. It is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire (even though it is in Derbyshire – not to be confused), and has been inhabited by the Cavendish family since 1549. The architecture itself is impressive, so is the fact that it is located in an ornate, expansive parkland in the River Derwent Valley, but also it is an important cultural site of Britain because it houses a unique collection of paintings, furniture, and sculptures. Chatsworth House is located just five miles east of Bakewell, and can be accessed from the A619 or A6. There is also a direct bus from Bakewell that runs every hour, taking around 20 minutes to reach the stately home.
The Outdoors and the Indoors
There is plenty to do in the Peak District, and that’s what makes this national park so attractive for visitors. Whether you’re into hiking, biking, or horse-riding, you’ll find that the trail networks that criss-cross the park will suit your active needs. There are also plenty of cultural sites to visit in the park too, such as the historic town of Bakewell, or the close-by Chatsworth House. It’s easy to get to the Peak District using either private or public transport, and there are several accommodation options too. It’s no wonder that the Peak District remains one of Britain’s most popular parks.