Unsurprisingly, lots of people visit the Peak District with the sole intention of walking or hiking. This part of the UK is stunningly beautiful, and the surrounding countryside is almost completely unspoilt. It really is English scenery at its finest, and there’s something for everyone, from gentle walks in quintessential patchwork countryside (all divided by the Peak’s iconic dry stone walls), to stuff that’s a little more (or a lot more, depending on what you fancy) challenging such as climbing at Curbar Edge, or a trek up to the top of blustery Mam Tor, but there’s just so much more to do besides walking! Hopefully this post (which basically contains everything we packed in to a recent week here) will give you a bit of inspiration!
I have my friend Penny from Parentshaped to thank for a lot of her insider knowledge, something that will come in very handy as she embarks on a journey to open a self catering barn of her very own in Peaks (as we speak)! We will be there to visit at some point Penny, fear not (or maybe do!)!!
On this particular visit, we stayed at the very lovely Aero Cottage. Owned by the super friendly and enthusiastic Claire and husband John, Aero Cottage is the perfect base for a week – whether your plans involve biking, hiking (there are plenty of walks straight from the door!) or just lazing about – you really can’t go far wrong. Claire also wins the most understanding host ever award after an accidental red wine spillage involving a collision and a cream sofa (which was more than mortifying and had me snipping open little pods of bio washing liquid at 11.00 at night in order to try to limit the damage!)! Thankfully Claire is about as laid back as you can get when it comes to such things, and laughed about the fact that it’s typically adults that cause any such problems, rarely children – my kind of host! Both Claire and John really care about you having the best break at their cottage, and love to show you a bit of their own lives too – which is how we met John’s pride and joy – his hand-built aeroplane (hence the cottage’s name!). They have their own private airstrip as well if you fancy flying your own plane in for a few days!!
Be warned, this place has a loyal fan base (and not just because the welcome basket includes a big bar of mint Aero), and people return year after year, so book in advance. Also, when you go, try to convince Clare that she really needs to start an Aero Cottage Instagram Account, because she is a very talented photographer in her own right… Conveniently, Aero Cottage is set smack bang in the middle of a mass of things to do and see – from Chatsworth House just a couple of miles up the road, to Bakewell a little drive further, and Curbar a mere stones throw away…
We visited Bakewell a few times. To people who know me well, this won’t come as much of a surprise – this pretty little market town is famous for its puddings which of course most British people will have heard of (yes, Bakewell tarts are also available, but puddings are far more traditional here!). Pretty much anything pastry based in Bakewell is good, from beautiful handmade sausage rolls to magnificent pies…
Do visit on the last Saturday of each month for the big food market with over 75 stalls, and also pay a visit to the lovelock bridge. Whilst I am not a big fan when it comes to lovelocks attached to really ancient stuff, this bridge looks made for the part…
A little further up the road Buxton (famous for its water and Well Decorations) is worth a visit for the ghosts of the past that are still so visible as you wander the Victorian streets. Sadly the baths closed in 1985, but you can still visit the buildings, plus the university buildings, and the Jubilee Gardens are definitely worth a wander through…
Lyme Hall – This stunning National Trust Property (that you might recognise from the BBC’s Production of Pride and Prejudice) is a really great place for families. The gardens are a great place to relax, and there’s a brilliant playground and cafe at the other end of the grounds. It has a great community feel generally, and if you really want to feel the part you can try on a few Regency costumes for a wander at the moment, as it celebrates 200 years of Jane Austen…
The Chestnut Centre – this lovely little Otter and wild cat Sanctuary is right in the heart of the Dark Peak. Walk through the beautiful landscape watched over by deer, and head down to the river where the otters and wild cats (and plenty of birds!) live. Watch feeding time for both the resident otters and wild cats, and say hello to a huge variety of owls. There’s also a cafe for a cream tea pitstop afterwards after all that energy expenditure. Look out for the ancient Quaker burial ground in the car park too. It’s funny the things you can discover whilst the youngest member of your family is being wrestled off a miniature postman pat van ride…
Matlock Baths – Step back in time in this Victorian Spa Town where you can wander the historic streets with a real seaside feel. Here you can get a cable car to the top of the Heights of Abraham where you can visit caves and take in the view. As you might imagine for this part of the world – it’s also great for fish and chips (served with a decent cuppa as is the norm up North!) – we had a great meal in Charles Restaurant a little further up the high street. You can also get a glimpse of one of the infamous Victorian Spa Baths inside the Aquarium, where one of the thermal baths is home to their carp collection. Look out for the Victorian Bridge, Jubilee Bandstand and the poshest loos I have ever seen…
Mam Tor means Mother Hill. At only 517 metres high, it’s not too much of a struggle to scale, but when you get the top the views are just incredible over Edale Valley and Kinder Scout. It’s also known as Shivering Mountain thanks to landslides on its Eastern side. Home to Bronze and Iron age hill forts, look out for the barrow at the top, and the little tiny bronze inlays in the floor with symbols that hark back to ancient times. Be warned. Whilst down in the car park it can seem like a calm and tranquil day, at the top of the tour, and all along the ridgeway it can be blowing an absolute gale with the kind of wind that makes you feel dizzy and disoriented. Trust me when I say bring a hat and/or ear muffs, and ignore the funny looks, you will be the one laughing at the top. Afterwards visit the Old Hall Tea Rooms for a really decent cream tea. You deserve one…
The Devils Arse – or Peak Cavern. In days of old most dark places were associated with the devil, and given that the entrance to this place does look somewhat like a giant crack, and that it was known for the odd flatulent noises caused by a vacuum of water leaving the caves, you can kind of understand why the place came to be known as The Devil’s Arse… This place wasn’t mined for anything, and was/is known for being one of the UK’s biggest “show Caves” along with Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole. Used in later times by rope makers, nowadays it’s still a big tourist attraction, and is also used for concerts throughout the year, as the entrance to the cave makes an excellent natural amphitheatre. Do also visit Speedwell up the road – a lead mining cave where you can take a boat through the silent watery caverns. We decided against this as with the Small Baby in our midst, there would be absolutely nothing silent about it. Believe me.
Chatsworth House – Definitely one of the most magnificent Stately Homes the UK has to offer. Set aside a whole day to explore the regal house and gardens that have belonged to the same family for over 16 generations. There’s also a brilliant farm park and play ground, and a maze to get lost in, plus plenty more besides. Take time for tea in one of the cafes, and take lunch in the rather regal stables (there’s only one iron horse here now!). Don’t miss the shop on the edge of the Estate either stuffed with lots of fabulous produce.
Eyam is one of those places captured in time that has a powerful story to tell. The history fans amongst you will enjoy learning about this picturesque village, and how its residents selflessly isolated themselves from the outside once the plague was in their midst and was busy taking its toll. Have an indepth history lesson at the Plague Museum, then wander up the road to Eyam Hall, and don’t miss a quick walk around the cemetery.
Curbar Edge really is somewhere that should feature highly on your list of things to see/do in the Peak District. You can hike for miles here from Curbar to Froggatt Edge, or simply sit atop one of the many rocks, and take in the breath-taking view across the Peaks. Nature at it’s very best….
Sounds like you had an amazing trip! All of that sounded lovely, especially the otters. I bet they were the cutest! I hope the rest of your summer is going well.
Thanks Marina, the otters were incredibly cute! :)
Kate Williams says
The view from Mam Tor makes me feel a little giddy! It is an amazing view though.
Thanks Kate. Yes, me too in parts! :D
Jumble Tree says
Looks wonderful Emma, and you certainly managed to pack a lot into your week. Another place I don’t know at all – we really need to do more exploring! Lots of great information here and gorgeous photos as always. Think I’d also be making a beeline for Bakewell… :) x
Thanks so much T. It’s such a beautiful area. A first time for us, and I know we will be back! :) x
It looks lovely and so much to do. Looks like you had a lovely time xx
Thank you. Perfect place for a holiday with Spike too! :) xx
I love the Peak District although it’s been years since I last visited. My daughter is off to Edale with her school next week, wish I was going too.
What a fantastic place for a school trip! Thanks Kizzy! :) x
Jaime Oliver says
looks like a wonderful trip. I mist admit I saw the love locks in Bakewell and my heart soared its one of my favourite places in that neck of the woods and Ollie and I have been promising to go this year but not managed it so far!
Bakewell is such a gorgeous little place. I couldn’t live there though, I would be like the hungry caterpillar eating a Bakewell Tart each visit. Just without the beautiful butterfly bit at the end! :D Thanks Jaime!
Midlife Singlemum says
We think the Alps are the bees knees when it comes to tourism but your photos of The Peak District look just as beautiful, interesting, and delicious as anything in Bavaria.
That’s a huge compliment. Thank you! :) x