The Peak District is an upland area in central and northern England, lying mainly in northern Derbyshire, but also covering parts of Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, and South and West Yorkshire. Most of the area falls within the Peak District National Park, whose designation in 1951 made it the earliest national park in the British Isles. An area of great diversity, it is conventionally split into the northern Dark Peak, where most of the moorland is found and whose geology is gritstone, and the southern White Peak, where most of the population lives and where the geology is mainly limestone-based.
Theories as to the derivation of the Peak District name include the idea that it came from the Pecsaetan or peaklanders, an Anglo Saxon tribe who inhabited the central and northern parts of the area from the 6th century AD when it fell within the large Anglian kingdom of Mercia. An alternative idea is that ‘Peak’ is a corruption of the word ‘Pict’, the pre-Iron Age people whose culture may have persisted much later in the uplands of Derbyshire and partially survives even now in local traditions such as well dressing. Another possibility is that the title is merely descriptive, referring to the Peaks or high hills which are such a feature of the landscape.
The diverse and engaging region of the Peak District and Derbyshire has benefited from years of careful conservation and management, and is packed with things to see and places to visit.
The region is steeped in history – from a World Heritage Site and bustling market towns to picturesque villages and palatial country mansions. Discover how the other half lived in stunning stately homes such as Chatsworth and Hardwick Hall or the medieval Haddon Hall, both surrounded by enchanting gardens.
Wander through the genteel streets of Matlock and Buxton, known as ‘the Bath of the North’, and renowned as the site of pure, volcanic mineral water since Roman times. Take a tour of the Royal Crown Derby Visitor Centre to learn more about the oldest surviving manufacturer of fine English porcelain or discover more about the world of science at Snibston Discovery Park with more than 90 experiments to try!
Delve into the region’s rich industrial heritage at the Peak District Mining Museum or at The Silk Mill – Derby’s Museum of Industry and History, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Take a trip down memory lane at Crich Tramway Village or visit Heage Windmill, the only working stone towered multi sailed windmill in the country. Or why not take a more gentle ride on the Peak Railway at Darley Dale.
Thrill seekers can experience the exhilarating white knuckle rides of Alton Towers, Britain’s biggest theme park. For younger children, Gulliver’s Kingdom has plenty of attractions to keep the whole family amused and to top off your break, witness the spectacular views of the Derbyshire hills aboard a cable car at the Heights of Abraham.
Our cottages are an ideal base for walking and cycle touring holidays. The variety of landscape is vast; from deep-cut limestone dales, such as Dovedale, Beresford Dale and Lathkill Dale, with fast flowing rivers and gorges, to the bleak and beautiful peat-covered moorlands.
Miles of ancient dry stone walls create a spiders-web of footpaths, bridleways and historic tracks providing some fantastic short circular routes for all the family or plenty of rugged terrain for those of you who need something more challenging. There is plenty of scope for the adventurous mountain biker!
From any of our cottages, the High Peak Trail, now part of the National Pennine Bridleway, is within easy reach. The Trail is 17.5 miles long and follows the old Cromford Railway, starting at Cromford and finishing at Dowlow, south of Buxton. It offers you an easy, non-strenuous introduction to the Peak District; yet it is an interesting route, with sharp curves and some fairly steep inclines. The limestone surface is good in all weathers.
Nearby Carsington Water is one of the largest non-paying visitor attractions in the UK and has a fabulous 9 mile paved circuit for cyclists and walkers. Cycles can be hired for all the family including trailers and baby seats. The route incorporates the villages of Hopton and Carsington, where you can stop for a bite to eat at the popular Miner’s Arms pub. There is another Miner’s Arms at Brassington, showing this area was an important lead mining centre. You can still see many of the abandoned mine shafts and old soughs (drains) on your local walks. Carsington Water is a fantastic place for you to experience a variety of watersports, including, dinghy sailing, canoeing, rafting, windsurfing, fly fishing, wild life watching.Carsington has become an important nature reserve; you can visit the bird watching hides and the wildlife centre which has a remote viewing area. Whilst some of you are sailing, bird watching or fishing there is also a fabulous adventure playground to keep the children occupied.
Just a few miles away is the famous Dovedale from where the walker can explore the many miles of well marked paths, along the picturesque dales or climb up on the ridges to take in the panoramic views. Further afield the famous walks of the Dark Peak beckon, including the Mam Tor circuit and the Goyt Valley. The rocks of the Dark Peak are gritstone and shale, acidic rocks laid down in a large river delta that eventually became the Pennines. It is an area of stark beauty and a must for walkers who enjoy a demanding walk; but remember the moors demand preparation and respect!
As the most popular climbing area in the country the Peak District offers you the delights of both the famous grit stone and the excellent limestone crags. The well known Froggat Edge, to the north, and The Roaches, to the west are within 40 minutes, but within 20 minutes and closer to home there are some real adventure climbs on the limestone crags of High Tor near Matlock Bath and Wildcat near Cromford and on the grit of Black Rocks.
For the beginners, Harborough Rocks is just down the road; this friendly little crag offers good rock for those just starting and plenty of challenges for an evening’s bouldering. A number of local companies can offer tuition for those who want to try climbing or abseiling, or you can make a start at Wirksworth Leisure Centre on the excellent indoor wall to see how you get on. Finally, for those of you who like dark wet places there is also plenty of caving in the area.