If you prefer a day out, and to buy direct, I am at a number of events

Peak District National Park: A Guide to the UK's Oldest National Park

The Peak District National Park, founded in 1951, is the first of Britain's 15 national parks. It is located in the centre of England and covers an area of 555 square miles (1,438 square kilometres) that reaches into five counties: Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, and Greater Manchester. The park is easily accessible from nearby cities such as Manchester, Sheffield, Derby, and Nottingham. It has a resident population of approximately 38,000 and attracts an estimated 13.25 million visitors every year, making it one of the most popular national parks in the UK.

The Peak District National Park is home to a diverse range of landscapes, including impressive gritstone edges in the Dark Peak area, steep limestone dales in the White Peak area, 196 square miles (51,000 hectares) of moorland, and rolling hills and farmland in the south-west Peak area. The park also features caverns that are famous for their rare Blue John stone, 5,440 miles (8,756 km) of dry stone wall, and 55 reservoirs that supply 450 million litres of water a day.

Visitors to the park can enjoy a range of activities, such as walking, climbing, cycling, mountain biking, caving, angling, photography, nature-watching, gliding, and visiting historic houses, country pubs, and tearooms. The park has 1,600 miles of public rights of way, including 64 miles accessible to disabled people, and 65 miles of off-road dedicated cycling and walking trails, as well as 34 miles of disused railways that have been converted into trails. There are cycle-hire centres at Ashbourne, Parsley Hay, Derwent Valley, and Middleton Top.

The southern end of the Pennine Way, Britain's oldest long-distance national walking trail, is located in the Peak District National Park at Edale. Completed in 1965, the trail stretches 268 miles from the Nag's Head pub in Edale to the Border Hotel, Kirk Yetholm, Scotland. The park also has around 520 square kilometres (202 square miles) of open access land that is open to walkers without having to stick to paths.

The Peak District National Park is also home to several towns and villages of interest, including Bakewell, a market town dating from medieval times that is famous for its Bakewell puddings, and is close to stately homes of Chatsworth and Haddon Hall. Other villages of interest include Castleton, famous for its caverns, "shivering mountain" of Mam Tor, Winnats Pass, and Peveril Castle; Eyam, known as the "plague village"; Hathersage, reputed grave-site of Robin Hood's friend Little John; Tideswell, the 14th century "cathedral of the Peak"; Ilam, with its Swiss-style architecture; Ashford-in-the-Water, a classic English riverside village; Tissington, home to Tissington Hall and close to the Tissington Trail; and Great Hucklow, home to a gliding club and Christmas lights.

The main industries in the Peak District National Park are tourism, quarrying, farming, and manufacturing. Nearly 90 per cent of the national park is farmland, with around 1,800 farms. The park has 70 active and disused quarry sites, more than all other UK national parks put together, due to centuries of mineral extraction, abundance of sought-after stone, and central location. However, only a minority of sites are now active, and modern conditions require sites to be restored.

More than a third of the national park (35%) is designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), where important plants, wildlife, and geological formations should be conserved. Most are privately-owned, though often publicly-accessible. The park also has over 2,900 listed buildings, including world-renowned Chatsworth, medieval Haddon Hall, Peveril Castle (Norman), centuries-old farm-buildings, cottages, and Bakewell's medieval bridge, crossed by traffic every day. There are also 109 conservation areas, often in the heart of a village, specially protected for its character, architecture, history, and landscape, as well as more than 450 scheduled historic monuments, including the Nine Ladies Stone Circle (Bronze Age) on Stanton Moor and the Neolithic henge at Arbor Low.

Distinctive customs in the Peak District National Park include well dressing, originally a pagan ceremony to honour water gods, now a summer tradition in dozens of villages. Week by week, different villages decorate their wells or springs with natural, ephemeral pictures made of flowers, petals, seeds, twigs, nuts, and berries, pressed into soft clay held in wooden frames. Well dressing weeks also include carnivals and streets decorated with bunting

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most popular attractions within the Peak District National Park?

The Peak District National Park is home to several popular attractions that draw visitors from all over the world. Some of the most popular attractions include the Chatsworth House, the Heights of Abraham, and the Monsal Trail.

How can one access the Peak District National Park?

Visitors can access the Peak District National Park by car, bus, or train. The park is located in central England and is easily accessible from major cities like Manchester, Sheffield, and Derby.

What activities are available to visitors in the Peak District National Park?

The Peak District National Park offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages. Some of the most popular activities include hiking, cycling, rock climbing, fishing, and horse riding.

Which towns are located within the boundaries of the Peak District National Park?

The Peak District National Park is home to several towns and villages, including Bakewell, Buxton, Castleton, and Edale. These towns offer a range of accommodation options, restaurants, and shops for visitors.

What wildlife and plants might one encounter in the Peak District National Park?

The Peak District National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife and plants. Visitors may encounter red deer, mountain hares, and several species of birds, including the peregrine falcon. The park is also home to a variety of plant species, including heather, bilberry, and cowberry.

Are there any fees or permits required for activities in the Peak District National Park?

Most activities in the Peak District National Park are free, but some may require permits or fees. For example, fishing in the park's rivers and streams requires a permit, and camping in some areas may require a fee. Visitors should check with the park's website or visitor centre for more information on permits and fees.

Latest Product Reviews

Kase UK Partner - Phil Sproson Photography

A Proud Kase UK Partner

The use of high quality glass filters for landscape photography is quite simply game changing and will improve your resulting images. I am happy to talk filters and help you get started, start a conversation here