Hi, my name is Amélie and welcome to my Peak District guide! I’m originally from Quebec, the majority French-speaking province in the east of Canada. One of my passions has always been traveling and this is how I ended up meeting my British husband while traveling in the Middle East.
If you had told me then that I would end up living in England, I probably would have laughed. But this is exactly what I did nine years ago, leaving all my family and friends behind in the name of love. Although I grew up in Canada, I never considered myself an “outdoorsy” person. I used to go for the odd hike from time to time but mostly described myself as a “city girl”.
When we moved to the UK, we settled near the Peak District and slowly but surely, I started to spend more and more time there – and now I’m totally hooked! Adventuring in the outdoors and exploring the natural world are now a priority to me, whether I’m in the UK or traveling abroad. I very much strive to have an active and outdoorsy lifestyle and have realized that I get fidgety and moody when I spend too much time indoors.
My Goal of Bagging All 88 Trig Points
After many years exploring the Peak District, I can now say that I have done most of the main hikes and seen most of the villages within the national park. But there is honestly always something new to discover and I still get surprised by some of the new trails, waterfalls and landscapes I discover.
My quest of “bagging” all 88 trig points in the park has led me to explore some parts that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise and I am planning on ticking off the remaining 21. I haven’t put a timeframe of when I want it done, I’m just enjoying the journey and plotting hikes around the trigs.
Although it’s hard to pick one favorite place in the Peak District, because there are a lot of great spots here, I guess the area around Castleton would be a favorite destination of mine. I never get tired of driving down Winnats Pass, strolling around Castleton or hiking along the Great Ridge.
Top 5 Places to Explore in the Peak District
To me, the Peak District embodies the quintessential British countryside. There are cute villages, rolling hills, vast moorlands, cool caves and ancient bits of forest within its boundary. So, there’s a bit of everything – whether you’re into hiking, trail running, cycling, bouldering, climbing, etc.
And because it’s literally in the middle of the country, it’s more accessible than other parks like Snowdonia or the Lake District – and the terrain isn’t as strenuous which makes it perfect for beginner or intermediate hikers. These are the top five places I recommend checking out:
- Chrome Hill/Parkhouse Hill: Two beautiful limestone hills that go under the nickname: “The Dragon’s Back”. This hike is easily one of the best places to watch the sunset in the Peak District National Park.
- Kinder Scout: The highest point in the Peak District National Park which is a vast moorland plateau with really interesting rock formations. The most famous route here is going from Edale via Jacob’s Ladder.
- Cave Dale/Winnats Pass: Winnats Pass was voted one of the most scenic drives in the UK and it’s easy to see why. You can also hike to the top of the pass going through Cave Dale (one of the locations of GOT), and have the most amazing views over Castleton and the whole area.
- The Roaches/Lud’s Church: The Roaches is a gritstone edge loved by both climbers and walkers alike – offering some lovely little scrambling routes and stunning views throughout. You can pair this hike with Lud’s Church, a nearby deep chasm in the rock, full of history and charm.
- Mam Tor and Great Ridge: Mam Tor is perhaps the most famous hill in the Peak District. From the top you can walk along the Great Ridge to a series of summits that gives you great views over the Hope Valley.
Where to Base Yourself in the Peak District
Depending what part of the Peak District you want to explore, I would say that Bakewell, Castleton and Hathersage make for great bases. I’m not an expert when it comes to places to stay because I tend to go to the Peak District on a day trip from where I leave – but they all have places to stay (hotels, airbnbs, campgrounds, etc), restaurants and shops. Bakewell is bigger than the two other places but they all are lovely places to explore.
Best Time of Year to Visit the Peak District
The Peak District National Park can be explored and enjoyed all year round (as long as you dress for the weather), but it’s particularly special in August when the heather on the moors blooms and big chunks of the Peak District are covered in an incredibly beautiful purple carpet of flowers.
What You Need to Know Before You Go
The Peak District is divided in two parts, the White Peak in the south and the Dark Peak in the north. The White Peak is a gentler landscape, mostly made up of limestone and is much greener. The Dark Peak is mostly made up of rugged and harsh hilltops made of gritstone with an abundance of open moorland. The walks tend to be more challenging in the Dark Peak.
The Peak District is also known for its gritstone “edges”, some of which are famous for climbing and bouldering. You can enjoy them individually or if you’re brave enough, you can tackle the Nine Edges Challenge – a 23 mile trail taking you through Derwent, Stanage, Burbage North, Burbage South, Froggatt, Curbar, Baslow, Gardom’s and Birchen Edge.
Cycling is also a thrilling activity to enjoy at the Peak District. Some of the old railways from the Industrial Revolution have been turned into cycle paths for all to enjoy. The most famous ones are the Monsal Trail, the Manifold Trail, the Tissington Trail and the High Peak Trail. No matter how you choose to explore the Peak District, you’ll have a fantastic time!