Peak District National Park

World Heritage Site spanning around 555 square miles which is a hotspot for millions of annual visitors who walk and cycle around the picturesque landscapes that the park has to offer.

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ABOUT THE PEAK DISTRICT


The Peak District National Park is a large area of rural highlands at the southern end of the Pennines, mostly located in Derbyshire but also encompassing parts of Cheshire, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, and West Yorkshire. Well-known as a destination for walking, cycling, rock-climbing and caving, the area attracts millions of annual visitors, mostly from the nearby cities of Sheffield, Manchester, Derby, Huddersfield and Stoke-on-Trent. The area was designated as Britain’s first National Park in 1951. The park directly borders Sheffield’s suburbs, meaning it is right on the doorstep of the city.

Largely an agricultural area, the Peak District has been populated since the earliest periods of human history – evidence has been found of Mesolithic flints and Neolithic settlements. Founded on the border of the district, the spa town of Buxton was a settlement established by the Romans during their occupation of Britain, where they revered its hot springs (today, the town is known for its bottled mineral water). Later, the area became known for its mining of lead and other minerals, as well as limestone quarrying. Parts of the Peak District like Millers Dale were known for trading in wool, with water-wheels powering textile mills during the Industrial Revolution. These old industrial areas have today mostly been reclaimed by nature, and are known as outstanding beauty spots.

Bakewell is the only town fully within the Peak District, as all other population centres in the area are considered villages. Home of the Bakewell Tart, this historic town is popular with tourists for its timeworn architecture, and its proximity to two magnificent country houses: Haddon Hall, a manor frequently depicted in literature and arts; and Chatsworth House, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire.

The village of Castleton is also a popular tourist destination. It boasts four different show-caves: Peak Cavern, Blue John Cavern, Treak Cliff Cavern, and Speedwell Cavern, which is known for its underground boat-ride. The village is overlooked by Peveril Castle, a now-ruined 11th-century castle that was established just after the Norman Conquest. It is also a major walking centre – routes from Castleton lead to the picturesque valleys of Cave Dale and Winnat’s Pass, and to the hill Mam Tor, which rewards walkers with one of the best panoramic views in the whole of Britain.

Another commonly-visited village in the area is Eyam, another old Roman settlement that was known for its lead-mining industry. In 1665, the village had a major outbreak of bubonic plague, and the people of Eyam voluntarily went into isolation to avoid spreading the disease. Estimates vary, but it is believed more than half the population of Eyam died of plague. Today, it is known as the ‘plague village’, and has a dedicated museum to the history of the village. The Eyam Legend has been told in multiple famous poems, books and plays.

The park boasts countless trails, hills, caves, rock faces and woods for a whole host of activities, from walks and hikes to cycling and horse-riding, rock-climbing and caving, and even paragliding. Stanage Edge and The Roaches are recognised by climbers as some of the world’s best spots for the sport. Disused old rail routes such as the Monsal Trail are popular for cyclists, and reservoirs such as Torside Reservoir and Carsington Water are frequently used for water sports, such as sailing, canoeing and fishing. Birdwatchers and nature lovers can spot a wide and exciting range of British wildlife, including mountain hares, otters, pine martens, peregrine falcons, ring ouzels, and occasionally common lizards and adders. At one point, a population of red-necked wallabies lived around The Roaches, after they were released from a private zoo and thrived in the wild, bewildering locals who caught glimpses of the animals; the last sighting of one, however, was in 2009.

The natural beauty and landscapes of the Peak District have inspired writers and artists for many centuries. Authors such as Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott, and Charlotte Brontë have used the setting for their novels. Films that have used Peak District locations include The Dam Busters (1955), The Princess Bride (1987), and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008).

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Natural Heritage
Bradfield Dale
Don Gorge
Porter Valley

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