The Best Peak District Walks
In the wild heart of England lies the Peak District: 550 square miles of dramatic hills, sweeping valleys, rivers, limestone gorges. In 1951, The Peaks - as it is known to those fortunate enough to live here - became the country's first National Park and has won the heart of all who visited. So much so that it has become more than just a National Park, in fact, many consider it a national treasure.
It is easy to get to the Peak District by car, bus, train, or bicycle. However, traversing the iconic trails that crisscross the countryside on foot and breathing in the invigorating air is by far the best way to really experience the landscape.
It is impossible to say what the best walks in the Peak District are because there is everything from gentle pub walks to more challenging ascents. However, here are some of our favourites that you should definitely consider walking to see the Peaks at their finest.
Length: 9 miles
Monsal Trail started life as part of the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock, and Midland Junction Railway, constructed in 1863 to link Manchester with London. The railway closed in 1968 and remained unused for twelve years before being taken over by the Peak District National Park. To make use of the former line’s flat course, the trail was reopened in 1981 as a convenient, accessible, and uniquely beautiful path through the countryside.
Between Blackwell Mill and Bakewell, the Monsal Trail snakes through tunnels and cuttings, over viaducts and past historic buildings. A highlight is the striking view from the Headstone Viaduct, below Monsal Head. The trail is ideal for families with young children and people who use wheelchairs, and it is part of the National Park’s ‘Miles Without Stiles’ easy-access routes initiative.
Not far from one end of the Monsal Trail in Bakewell is a cluster of our beautiful hotels and boltholes. Plus, our friendly inns offer hearty seasonal food with great wines and ales - just what you need after your still along the Monsal Trail.
Beeley & Hell Bank
Length: 3 miles
Beeley is the quintessential Peak District village. It has shared a long history with Chatsworth House, Britain’s best-loved stately home since it became part of the Chatsworth Estate in 1761. This pretty, unspoilt village is sheltered by Beeley Moor, with wonderful views in all directions. It makes an ideal base to explore the Peaks further, although there are pleasant walks in and around Beeley itself that deliver rewards much higher than the effort they take.
For pub walks in the Peak District, we like starting from Beeley where there is free street parking. Walking across the fields and through the woods to Hell Bank Plantation, you’ll get to see gentle waterfalls under the leafy canopy. Heading back to Beeley following the yellow footpath marker-arrows, steer yourself in the direction of The Devonshire Arms at Beeley for a well-deserved pint and some chips.
Maybe you’d like to stay at The Devonshire Arms for more than just a pint and some chips? We offer delightful and homely rooms for you, and your pets are welcome too!
The Roaches to Lud’s Church
Length: 7 miles
Do not be put off by the name; ‘Roaches’ comes from the French word ‘roches,’ meaning ‘rocks.’ The theatrical landscape of the Roaches towering over the Tittesworth Reservoir has been hewn from the sandstone by time. It is a grand example of the variety the Peak District has to offer.
On the way to the peak, you will pass the Doxey Pool, a dark blue pond where, it is said, a malevolent water spirit named Jenny Greenteeth preys on unsuspecting hikers. The weather-worn rocks at the summit really do evoke feelings of mystery and wonder. Leaving the Roaches and entering Lud’s Church – an atmospheric, moss-covered chasm with walls 59 feet high - you are transported to another world.
Iconic moments from the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice were filmed on the Roaches hill walking route — and it is easy to see why. Relive Elizabeth Bennet’s wanderlust and return to one of our delightful hotels in the south of the Peaks, just a 45-minute drive from the Roaches.
Length: 9 miles
At 2,087 feet above sea level, Kinder Scout is the highest point (and quite possibly the most iconic natural landmark) in the Peak District. We like starting our ascent from Hayfield, where there is a circular national trail to follow. It is a challenging walk, especially in poor weather (so please come prepared with a map, compass, and appropriate walking gear!), but those who are able to climb to the very top are rewarded with memorable and undeniably breath-taking views.
It is not just the summit that is spectacular: there are many sights to see on the way up. There is Kinder Downfall, the tallest waterfall in the Peaks, and two interesting rock formations, Pym’s Chair, and the Boxing Gloves. According to local legend, a small pond on that trail known as Mermaid’s Pool, is home to a beautiful mermaid who can only be seen at sunrise on Easter Sunday.
Kinder Scout is only about an hour’s drive through picturesque countryside from our luxurious hotels and boltholes on the Chatsworth Estate. There's nothing stopping you making a day trip across the National Park to Kinder Scout and returning to the comfort of your well-appointed room and a delicious meal.
Peak District Walking Holidays: Where To Stay
There is so much to see in the Peak District, and you simply must try at least one of the walks above. In fact, to make the most of your visit, why not plan a stay with Devonshire Hotels? Based in the south of the National Park with good access to the whole of the area, our hotels offer something for everyone.
We are also pleased to offer our exclusive Walk the Peaks & Dales package for our adventurous guests. In this package we provide you with a detailed map with all of the best local walking routes, a picnic lunch to enjoy along the way, and a delicious evening meal to re-fuel after your countryside ramble.
With so much to see and experience in the Peak District National Park, you’ll want to come back again and again.