hikes in Peak District
Peak District Walks
The oldest national park in the United Kingdom, the Peak District is one of England’s finest gems. This ancient land is steeped in history, myth and legend, and a walking holiday here offers much more than your typical activity break. From its glittering underground caves to its high mountain tarns, the Peak District is full of surprises.
The Peak District lies at the confluence of five English counties, and was once a major highway for medieval merchants who transported their goods from the north to the south of England. A walk here usually means traveling in the footsteps of 18th century packhorses, or Roman soldiers, or even legendary English figures such as Robin Hood. The grey crags of the Dark Peaks all have strange names and a story to tell, and this will make your trip all the more memorable.
Walking in the Peak District National Park is a true delight. You’ll find trails packed with variety and interest, sweeping views over expansive moorland, and some of England’s prettiest flora and fauna. What’s more, you’re likely to receive a warm welcome wherever you go – the people of the Peak District are (quite rightly) proud of their home and happy to show visitors around.
If you’re looking for a fantastic activity holiday in England, plan your walking holiday in the Peak District today! This large national park offers plenty of opportunities to get away from it all, so grab your walking boots and head for the hills.
The 10 Greatest Walks In The Peak District National Park
The Peak District is the ideal family-friendly destination, offering many easy, low-elevation trails with plenty of things to see and do along the way. Kids will love the opportunity to explore underground caves, or take the cable car ride to the top of the Heights of Abraham, and many of these easy walks are punctuated with informative signs and posters. There’s so much variety of offer, the Peak District is the perfect place for a family walking holiday!
On the other hand, if you’re a keen walker looking for a challenge, you’ll find plenty of wonderful trails across the Peak District. In particular, the Dark Peaks offer some challenging, strenuous day hikes, which will provide a good workout in some of England’s finest scenery. Whatever you’re looking for, the Peak District has a trail for you.
- Monsal Trail Walk: The Monsal Trail follows the route of the 19th-century Manchester to London railway, specifically the section between Buxton and Bakewell. If you’re looking for an easy walk in the Peak District, why not try this beautiful section of the trail, perfect for walking or cycling. The path is paved, making it ideal for families with pushchairs, and offers beautiful views of Bakewell and some of the original railway viaducts. This is the perfect place to come for a relaxed, leisurely day out in the Peak District!
- Mam Tor Walk: The trek to the top of Mam Tor is one of our favorite family walks in the Peak District. The route passes along an accessible, paved pathway, before rising steeply up to the trig point, offering wonderful views over the Edale Valley all the way to Kinder Scout. The descent also offers a few wonderful surprises, including the remarkable Blue John Cavern, where you can see the unique ornamental mineral that Castleton is so famous for.
- The Great Ridge and Win Hill Walk: The Great Ridge stretches between the summits of Lose Hill and Mam Tor, and is one of the most popular ridge walks in England. This route ascends the ridge via a steep climb up Lose Hill, providing marvelous views over Win Hill and the Dark Peaks. You’ll pass by craggy tors and dense woodland, and although the walk is somewhat strenuous, it’s one of the most rewarding day hikes in the Peak District.
- Kinder Scout Walk: Kinder Scout is one of the Peak District’s most iconic routes, and this trail offers a real challenge to keen walkers. Ascend via Grindsbrook Clough, and follow the path across the plateau to the Kinder Downfall. You’ll enjoy spectacular views over Kinder Reservoir, Hayfield and Glossop, before descending down the steep steps of Jacob’s Ladder. The terrain is undulating and challenging, but it’s no wonder that this walk remains one of the most popular in the Peaks.
- Stanage Edge Walk: Stanage Edge is an imposing gritstone ridge, stretching for 3.7mi and providing an epic view over the Hope and Derwent Valleys. The Edge forms part of the Long Causeway, an ancient packhorse route that starts in Sheffield, and ends in the Peak District village of Hathersage, where this walk begins and ends. Stanage Edge is popular with both hikers and climbers, and this moderately challenging walk is a wonderful way to see it.
- Padley Gorge Walk: If you want to experience the best of the Peak District, but are looking for a relatively easy, low-level walk, try this route through Padley Gorge. You’ll follow a lively brook through the beautiful Longshaw Estate, passing railway bridges, disused quarries and atmospheric woodland along the way. The trail is pleasant and easy, and if you arrive in May, you can enjoy the rich carpet of bluebells that covers the floor of Yarncliffe Wood.
- Dovedale Walk: This beautiful and varied trail will take you past some of the most iconic tors in the Peak District. Dovedale’s limestone features have produced impressive and unusual rock formations, sculpted by the elements, including the so-called Tissington Spires, Dover Holes and Lover’s Leap. The hike culminates at the summit of Bailey Hill, where you’ll enjoy an impressive panorama over the marvelous Peak District landscape.
- The Roaches and Lud’s Church Walk: Step back in time to a land of myth and legend on this enjoyable Peak District walk! The Peak District is known for its association with Robin Hood, and the legendary outlaw is rumored to have hidden in the dramatic, mossy gorge now known as Lud’s Church. Nearby, the craggy peaks of the Roaches also have their own stories to tell, with plenty of strange and wonderful myths concerning malevolent mermaids and lucky stones. This fantastic route is one of our favorite walks in the Peak District.
- Thor’s Cave and the Manifold Valley Walk: The Peak District is known for its subterranean treasures, with many stunning cave systems filled with glittering stalactites and stalagmites. Thor’s Cave is the largest natural cavern in the Peaks, set in the beautiful Manifold Valley in the heart of the White Peaks. This relatively easy trail is a great way to experience the Peak District’s twin charms – dramatic hills and eerie underground caves.
- Derwent Edge: The so-called Dark Peaks offer incredible rocky vistas, characteristic of the stunning gritstone features of the national park. This walk will take you along Derwent Edge, past sleepy reservoirs and distinctive, craggy tors. The views are remarkable – this is one of the best hikes in the Peak District, and our favorite way to take in the majesty of the Dark Peaks.
When Is The Best Time To Walk In The Peak District?
England’s relatively mild climate means that it’s possible to walk in the Peak District at any time of year, although winter is likely to be cold, wet and misty, which can make higher-elevation trails dangerous and difficult to access. If you plan to walk in the winter, always check the weather forecast and take local advice, as conditions in the hills can change very quickly.
The best time to walk in the Peak District is spring, when the forests are covered in a colorful carpet of bluebells, lambs frolic in the fields, and there’s at least some chance of sun! The weather in summer will be warmer and brighter, but the trails can become very busy, especially in the school holidays. In September and October, the forests glow with stunning autumn colors, and this is an excellent time to wander through woodlands and low-elevation trails throughout the national park.
Best Regions For Walking In The Peak District
The Peak District covers a vast area in the center of England, and is divided into two main areas: the Dark Peaks and the White Peaks. The White Peaks are found in the lush, green south of the park, where you’ll find beautiful forests, limestone caves, and quaint towns and villages. The Dark Peaks rise to the north, and are wild, wonderful and unkempt, with vast open moorland and craggy tors of black granite, windswept and battered into strange and unusual shapes. Both of these regions have charm in abundance, despite their different characters, and if possible, you should try to experience a little bit of both during your trip to the Peak District.
Other Outdoor Activities in The Peak District
Although walking is by far the most popular thing to do, there are plenty of other outdoor activities in the Peak District! The distinctive geological features of the region make it a paradise for climbers, and there are many companies offering tours and lessons on some of the park’s most dramatic cliffs. It’s also possible to go caving, and explore some of the fascinating and beautiful treasures hidden away underneath the hills. In summer, take to the rivers and reservoirs and go kayaking or canoeing, head out on your bike and go cycling, or even enjoy a spot of horse riding!
How To Plan A Trip To The Peak District
Planning a trip to the Peak District has never been easier! To help you organize your trip and to make sure every aspect of your visit runs smoothly, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to planning a trip to the Peak District. You’ll find all of the information you’ll need before you set off, and plenty of recommendations for the best hikes in both the Dark and White Peaks. Happy traveling!
Frequently Asked Questions
How big is the Peak District?
The Peak District covers more than 555 square miles and stretches over five counties in England: Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Yorkshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire.
What cities are close to the Peak District?
Manchester, Sheffield and Derby are the closest cities to the Peak District National Park, and they are all well connected by bus and rail.
Why do people visit the Peak District?
The Peak District is popular for its walking and climbing opportunities, diverse and unique landscape, and beautiful scenery. The Peak District is also an area where you can find many famous cultural and historic sites.
What is the highest point in the Peak District?
Kinder Scout, in the heart of the Dark Peaks, is the highest point in the national park, standing at 636m above sea level.
Where to stay in the Peak District?
There are many options for where to stay in the Peak District. You can choose from small hamlets right in the middle of the park, to big cities an hour away. If you’re looking for something in the middle of the park, Buxton, Ilam and Hathersage are all popular choices. These small towns allow you to combine your walking holiday with cultural and historical experiences. If you prefer the big city, and just want to visit the Peak District for a day trip, Sheffield and Manchester are both close by.
How far is the Peak District from London?
By road, the Peak District is around 160 miles away from London. You can drive there in around three and a half hours.
- Find other amazing walking regions in the UK:
- Lake District Walks
- Walks in the Chiltern Hills
- Walks in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs
- Snowdonia Walks
- Walks in the North York Moors
Or check out the article about the best walks in the UK.Read More
The best hikes in Peak District
Mam Tor Walk is a short and family-friendly trail that is steeped in ancient history… Read More
Are we missing your favourite hike?
Tell us! If you've got photos, a GPS track and know the hike, we'd love to share your favourite hike with the rest of the 10Adventures community.