The Peak District National Park is an area of stunning natural beauty in central England, boasting a seemingly never-ending list of things to do. It’s no wonder this is one of the UK’s most popular areas to visit, with its rugged peaks, dramatic landscapes, rolling valleys and mesmerising underground caves to explore.

    Young families and avid adventurers alike will relish the opportunity to discover beautiful Victorian gardens, impressive stately homes, ancient hidden caves and some of the most spectacular scenery the country has to offer. So, pack-up the kids, the dog and your camera, grab your favourite walking boots and check out the best things to do in the Peak District.

    What are the best things to do in the Peak District? 

    1

    Chatsworth House

    Spend a whole day exploring one of Britain’s favourite country houses

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    The lavish and beautiful Chatsworth House is a grand stately home set in idyllic gardens in the Derbyshire countryside. Just a few miles outside of Bakewell, it’s been the home of the Cavendish family since 1549 and has regularly been voted as one of Britain’s favourite country houses.

    Admire the impressive artwork inside the house, then take a wander around the perfectly manicured gardens, with their ponds, fountains and the puzzling yew maze. You can head to one of the restaurants or cafés at The Stables and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea and don’t forget to visit the farm shop, too. Plus, those visiting Chatsworth with kids will love the farmyard and playground.

    Location: Bakewell DE45 1PP, UK

    Open: March–September: daily from 10 am to 4.30 pm (Garden from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm)

    Phone: +44 (0)1246 565300

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    2

    Dovedale

    Hop across stepping stones and surround yourself with limestone ravines

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    Dovedale is a stunning area of natural beauty, famous for its staggering limestone ravines and its charming stepping stones that cross the picturesque River Dove. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the river, exploring the woodland and wildlife up towards Reynards Cave.

    For those of you wanting a bit more of a challenge, Thorpe Cloud is a 941-ft limestone hill right by the Dovedale Stepping Stones. A climb to the top is well worth it for the spectacular views of the surrounding Peak District. Dovedale lies between the villages of Thorpe and Ilam and there’s a car park nearby with refreshments and toilets available, although you might want to check the opening times before you travel.

    Location: Ashbourne DE6 1NL, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1335 343666

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    3

    Kinder Scout

    Don your walking boots and ascend the highest point in the Peak District

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    Kinder Scout is the highest point in the Peak District and no avid walker or explorer would want to miss out on the opportunity to reach its summit. The breathtaking landscape up here boasts rugged moorland, rocky terrain, babbling streams and even the mighty Kinder Downfall – the Peak District’s tallest waterfall.

    Depending on your climbing ability, there are a number of different routes up Kinder Scout, from manageable paths that incorporate the famous Jacob’s Ladder steps, to tougher routes that require some scrambling. The best place to park for Kinder Scout is in the village of Edale, then it’s just a short walk to the foot from there.

    Location: High Peak S33 7ZJ, UK

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    4

    Ladybower Reservoir

    Walk, cycle or simply experience the Lake District of the Peak

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    Ladybower Reservoir, right in the heart of the Peak District, is a large, Y-shaped reservoir surrounded by scenic countryside. Its beautiful setting makes it a popular destination for walkers, cyclists or just those looking for a picturesque picnic spot to admire the area known as the “Lake District of the Peak”.

    The full circuit around the reservoir is just under 6 miles, so you can easily spend an afternoon exploring its entirety. There are various car parks nearby, but Fairholmes is where you’ll find the Upper Derwent Information Centre and where you can also hire bikes. While you’re at the reservoir, be sure to climb up to the Bamford Edge overhang for an incredible view of the water from above.

    Location: Upper Derwent Valley, Derbyshire, UK

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    5

    Mam Tor

    Soak up the Peak District’s most iconic views

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    Mam Tor is the site of one of the most popular walks in the Peak District, effortlessly combining unforgettable views with easy walking routes, meaning people of all abilities can enjoy its beauty. The 1,696-ft hill is famous for its superb views from the top – some of the best in the country, let alone the Peak District. Many of the most iconic Peak District images are captured from up here, so be sure to have your camera with you.

    The idyllic village of Castleton is a great base for starting circular routes around Mam Tor and the surrounding ridges. If you have time to explore further, the village is known for its mesmerising caverns, which are well worth a visit.

    Location: Hope Valley S33 8WA, UK

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    6

    Lyme Park

    Step back in time and discover this remarkable house and gardens

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    Lyme Park is a strikingly grand historical house located in the very northern reaches of the Peak District. Set within impressive gardens and immaculate grounds, the house is just as well known for its beautiful surroundings as it is for its lavish interior.

    Once a famous sporting estate, the site is now owned by the National Trust and makes for a fascinating day out for families, couples and groups alike. Kids will be in their element at the Crow Wood Playscape and grown-ups will love seeing the locations where the BBC filmed their Pride and Prejudice adaptation starring Colin Firth.

    Location: Disley, Stockport SK12 2NR, UK

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1663 762023

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    7

    Poole’s Cavern & Buxton Country Park

    Discover the Peak District’s 2-million-year-old hidden caves

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    The enchanting Poole’s Cavern is one of the Peak District’s best kept secrets, located within walking distance from the town of Buxton. Hidden beneath the ground of Buxton Country Park, the 2-million-year-old limestone cave is a must-see attraction, with fascinating guided tours taking you on a journey through natural chambers adorned with crystal stalactites and stalagmites.

    After your tour of the caverns, enjoy a woodland walk up to Grim Low, grab a bite to eat at Café At The Cavern or even pay a visit to Go Ape next door.

    Location: Green Ln, Buxton SK17 9DH, UK

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1298 26978

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    8

    Pavilion Gardens

    Admire the beauty and charm of Buxton’s Victorian botanical gardens

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    The Pavilion Gardens are a firm favourite with anybody visiting the beautiful spa town of Buxton. Easily accessible in the town centre, the Victorian gardens and Grade II-listed building draw crowds who enjoy nothing more than soaking up its vibrant atmosphere and admiring its historic splendour.

    Browse the shops at the Pavilion Retail Arcade, explore the Gallery in the Garden, take a ride on the Miniature Railway or enjoy a sweet treat at the Pavilion Tea Rooms. There are plenty of events and festivals that take place at the gardens throughout the year, so be sure to check what’s on before you visit.

    Location: St John's Rd, Buxton SK17 6BE, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1298 23114

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    9

    Monsal Trail

    Journey along a former railway line through picturesque limestone dales

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    The scenic Monsal Trail is a former railway line that’s been transformed into a fabulous walking, cycling and riding route for all to enjoy. Choose your preferred mode of transport and journey along the 8.5-mile traffic-free route through the Peak District’s rolling limestone dales.

    The trail runs between Blackwell Mill and the town of Bakewell and there are a number of sights and attractions to see along the way. Highlights include Monsal Head, the Headstone Viaduct and the trail’s numerous tunnels. There are also plenty of pubs plus the Millers Dale Station Café to stop off at along the way. There are bike hire shops at both ends of the trail and the whole route is wheelchair accessible.

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    10

    Stanage Edge

    Experience the Peak District’s dramatic escarpment

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    Stanage Edge is a rugged gritstone rock formation, popular not just with walkers but with rock climbers too. The dramatic scenery here is otherworldly and you might even recognise it as the backdrop to the 2005 Pride & Prejudice film starring Keira Knightley.

    One of the best ways to experience Stanage Edge is by doing the circular walking route that starts and ends in nearby Hathersage. The main route is about 6.5 miles long and will take around 3-4 hours. Alternatively, the adrenaline junkies among you may prefer to scale the escarpment’s sheer face. In which case, there are a number of companies in the area offering guided rock climbing experiences.

    Location: Hope Valley S32 1DZ, UK

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    Sadie Geoghegan-Dann | Contributing Writer

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