Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful areas in England, the Peak District will never disappoint you whatever time of year you visit. With its vast array of attractions ranging from theme parks and stately homes to famous towns and natural wonders you won’t be at a loss for things to do and see.
For those looking to increase their pulse rate Alton Towers is a must! With the main park, which has areas for little ones (CBeebies Land) as well as huge rollercoasters for the daredevils, the Splash Landings Water Park and the new for 2019 Alton Towers Dungeon there is plenty to do here. If you fancied spending a couple of days at the park, or exploring the surrounding area there are hotels on site, though you and your trusty van can camp very nearby at Alton, Lower Micklin Touring Park, the eco-campsite Farm on the Hill or Hales Hall, all of which are less than a 10 minute drive away from the park.
If you’re travelling with children of varying ages, Gulliver’s Kingdom is a theme park specifically designed for children between ages 2 and 13. Offering plenty of rides and attractions including indoor play areas, outside playgrounds, a Dinosaur Land and diggers to name just a few, you’re sure to have no problems spending a fun-filled day here. If you don’t fancy driving home after such a tiring day or want to stay in the area to explore another day, campsites at Middleshills Farm and The Duke William (May to October) are just a stones throw away.
One thing Derbyshire and the Peaks aren’t short of is caves! With the Heights of Abraham in Matlock, Poole’s Cavern and Country Park in Buxton and Speedwell and Treak Cliff Cavern in Castleton you could fill your boots exploring these magnificent natural wonders whilst also aking in the breathtaking surrounding the Peak District has to offer. Whilst there are plenty of campsites near each site, if you were to make a long weekend of your cave exploration, we would suggest camping in Bakewell at the Greenhills Holiday Park. Bakewell is situated almost equidistant from each of the 3 Derbyshire towns as well as being a beautiful, historic town in its own right and home to the famous Bakewell Pudding (not tart!).
Apart from cruising along in your van, steam train has to be up there as one of the best ways to travel. If you agree, try a visit to Peak Rail in Matlock. They have a 4 mile line between Matlock and Rowsley South Station on which they run steam and diesel locomotives. Certain dates have restaurant and buffet cars as well as kids travel free dates so check their website out if you are interested. Camping wise the Greenhills Holiday Park in Bakewell that we refer to above is only 20 minutes away and is a fantastic location for exploring the area.
If you’re after something a little smaller, the narrow guage railway at the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway uses coal fired steam engines to run along Rudyard Lake. With a cafe on Platform 2, covered carriages and special events throughout the year its definitely worth a look.
Castles and Stately Homes
Sometimes a day of culture enjoying days gone by is just what you need and Derbyshire definitely has its fair share of castles and grand houses. Before you visit though, just check that they are open as many of them do close over the winter months. Bolsover Castle in Chesterfield is a Norman Castle run by English Heritage and boasts amazing views over the Derbyshire countryside. With rooms to explore in the Little Castle, ruined terrace and wall walk to enjoy the views as well as extensive grounds and play area to burn of some energy there is more than enough to fill your day.
Another place to visit in Chesterfield is Renishaw Hall and Gardens. The hall can be viewed by guided tours only and is not accessible every day though the HHA Garden of the Year 2015 offer formal gardens, woodland walks and lakes as well as an abundance of seasonal plants and flowers. Throw in a children’s maze and everyone’s happy. There is also a visitor centre, museum and cafe to explore whilst you’re there.
Chatsworth is situated close to Bakewell and has an amazing house with numerous rooms to explore and learn about the Cavendish family who lived there for 16 generations. The 105 acre gardens laid out by Capability Brown are spectacular in their own right and boast waterworks, sculptures, a Victorian rock garden and maze. If that’s not enough to keep you entertained for the day, there’s also a farmyard and playground to burn off any remaining energy! You can get even more of a feel for the place by camping at the Chatsworth Park Club Site, which is in an old walled garden on the Chatsworth estate and just a 15 minute walk to the village of Baslow.
Haddon Hall can be found in the heart of the Peak District and is described as one of the finest examples of a fortified medieval manor house in existence. After being abandoned in the 1700s it lay dormant until the 1920s when it was restored and made habitable again. After looking round the house you can enjoy some fresh air in the gardens or even take a guided walk offered by the house. A restaurant is available on site for when you’ve worked up an appetite. Handily, both the Bakewell and Chatsworth camp sites are located very close to Haddon Hall so could act as a bolt hole while you emerse yourself on all the history and splendour of the local architecture.
We couldn’t have a page dedicated to activities in the Peak District and not have a section on walks. The Peak District National Park is stunningly beautiful and the best way to fully appreciate its beauty is to get in among it! We’ve listed below some of the best walking routes though if you don’t fancy yourself great with directions, check out MyGuidedWalks who specialise in providing the best personalised walking guides available.
Matlock Bath, High Tor and Heights of Abraham – a moderate level 5 mile walk via High Tor offering stunning cliff top views of the surrounding area and walking through lovely woodland
Birchen Edge – Chatsworth Walking Route – a 7 mile circular walk taking in Birchen Edge, Chatsworth and Dobb Edge
Castleton and Mam Tor – a 6 ½ mile walk starting in Castleton and taking in possibly the most admired and stunning parts of the Peak District. Known as one of the best ridge walks in the country, it gives stunning views over Edale, Hope Valley and the edge of Kinder Scout. If you’re feeling energetic you could extend the route to an 8 mile walk, strolling by the river on the way back. The start of the walk passes the Treak Cliff and Blue John Caverns if you wanted to explore them before or after your walk.
Matlock Bath – Bonsall Village – Cromford – a 3.5 mile cicular walk starting at the Peak District Mining Museum. This walk does have some quite tough uphill sections