14 Best Things to Do in Peak District for Fun Weekend Breaks

Are you looking to find out the best things to do in Peak District, UK? Let me share with you one of the most beautiful English countryside landscapes in the British Isles. I have been to the Peak District and it was one of the most picturesque British landscapes I have ever seen. The Peak District is also included in one of my collective articles, Best Places to Visit in the UK Recommended by Travel Bloggers.

The Peak District is one of the most visited national parks in the UK and the world. It is the perfect getaway destination for friends and families looking for that serene and tranquil getaway destination. The Peak District is the first national park of England and Wales since April 1951, this famous tourist spot attracts approximately 10.1 million tourists per year.

With an area of 1,438 square kilometres (555 square miles), the land is formed almost entirely of sedimentary rocks. It has a lot of space for outdoor recreation, with over 202 square miles of access land; 58 miles for off-road cycling trails; and 1867 miles that is open for walking, cycling, and horse-riding are only some of the best things to do in Peak District.

My friend and I at Peak District
Best things to do in Peak District: My friend and I at Peak District

Best things to do in Peak District for fun weekend breaks

Mam Tor

Atop the Mam Tor hill is one of the most stunning and panoramic views of Peak District valleys. You can view the entire Hope Valley on one side, and the Edale Valley to Kinder Scout and the Derwent Moors on the other side.

Mam Tor Peak District
Best things to do in Peak District: Visit Mam Tor

Located in Derbyshire, its name translates to ‘mother hill,’ due to the landslides on its southeast side that gave birth – so to speak – to smaller hills. At a height of 517 meters (1,696 feet), it is one of the trails that attract the most number of hikers and is constantly included in the best walks in England. The Great Ridge path of Mam Tor, for one, is one of the most used trails for most hikers because of the well-paved ridge footpath that makes it an easy climb.

Aside from the scenic route to the top, hikers can also see some historical artefacts that have survived since the late Bronze age, or around 1200 BC. Along the way, you should look out for two well-preserved hill forts, as well as ancient burial barrows.

For more information about the Mam Tor circular walk, check here.

Dark Peak

Who can ever forget that dramatic shot of Keira Knightley atop a clifftop, dress billowing with the wind, and looking out to the breathtaking landscape of a brooding moorland at the beginning of the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice? The desolate view that Elizabeth Bennet was looking out to in the said scene is the Dark Peak area of Peak District, viewed from the Stanage Edge.

Located mostly in Derbyshire, Dark Peak is one of the most recognizable areas of the Peak District because of its distinct moorland plateau and gritstone slopes and edges. Although uninhabited and dominated by clumps of heather moorland and thickets of bog, there are also pastured valleys and farmlands.

Located mostly on the northern side of the Peak District, the Dark Peak occupies the more elevated area of the Peak District. Thus, aside from higher rainfall compared to most parts of the Peak District, the Dark Peak also serves as a favourite destination for rock climbers and adrenaline junkies. One particular rock is even called “God’s own rock.”

As you can probably tell from its name, this climbing spot is a favourite among professional and amateur rock climbers. The Pennine Way, regarded as one of the best-known and toughest trails, also passes the Dark Peaks.

Landscape near Shining Tor and Dark Peaks in Peak District
Best things to do in Peak District: Landscape near Shining Tor and Dark Peaks in Peak District

A favourite among rock climbers since the late 19th century, more than 10,000 routes can be hiked in the Peak District. Some of the most famous climbers associated with Peak District are James W. Luttrell, one of the pioneers of the sport; John Laycock, who wrote the first climbing guidebook of Peak District Some Gritstone Climbs; and Ron Fawcett, considered to be a legend in British rock climbing.

Winnats Pass

Winnats Pass is one of the best places to take that perfect sunrise or sunset photo. This limestone valley offers one of the most picturesque scenes in the Peak District because of its winding roads and ridges. Just west of Castleton, its name is a derivation of the word “Windy Gates.” Believed to be formed from a collapsed cavern, Winnats Pass is considered to be a fine example of Karst geology.

Winnats Pass in Peak District
Best things to do in Peak District: Snap a photo at Winnats Pass

Because of the limestone composition of the area, this valley provides a suitable environment for wildflowers and plants. One particular specie is the endemic Derby hawkweed or Hieracium naviense, a very rare hawkweed specie. Found only in Winnats Pass, it is now tagged as Critically Endangered on England’s Vascular Plant Red list.

And as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), visitors are not allowed to pick flowers or disturb the rock formation. However, tourists can still enjoy the view of the limestone valley by driving through it or by hiking. Winnats Pass is also part of the Tour of Peak Road Race, making it a popular destination for cyclists.

Speedwell Cavern

At the foot of Winnats Pass is the limestone cave of Speedwell Cavern. Built in 1771, the cave was originally intended to be a lead mine. Now a tourist cave, visitors can explore the cavern via a guided boat journey.

Speedwell cavern in Peak District
Best things to do in Peak District: Visit the Speedwell Cavern
By Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net)., CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Here, visitors will be delighted with the sights of stalagmites and stalactites. The guided tour will also bring you to the so-called Bottomless Pit, one of the deepest caverns in Britain. It is a large subterranean lake with a surface area of 250 square meters.

For more information and a booking schedule, visit the Speedwell Cavern website.

Treak Cliff Cavern

Another guided tourist destination, the Treak Cliff Cavern takes visitors on a 40-minute self-guided audio tour to its magnificent chambers of stalactites and stalagmites. 

Treak Cliff Cavern is also famous for its large deposit of Blue John Stone. Found only in Treak Cliff, the Blue John is one of the rarest minerals in Britain. This semi-precious stone is recognizable for its distinct purple-blue or yellow colour.

Blue John Vein in Treak Cliff Cavern
Best things to do in Peak District: Visit Treak Cliff Cavern
Blue John Vein in Treak Cliff Cavern | Dave.Dunford | CC BY-SA 3.0

The Blue John Experience tour takes visitors on a firsthand experience of how to mine and then turn raw Blue John minerals into exquisite pieces of jewellery. On a five- to six-hour tour, visitors will have the chance to prospect their own piece of a Blue Stone, grind it, polish it, and then have their own piece of Blue John jewellery.

For booking and scheduling, visit the Treak Cliff Cavern website.

Bakewell

 For some sights and sounds of the English countryside, Bakewell is the perfect place for you.

Located along the banks of River Wye, this is the largest settlement and only market town on the site of the national park. It is also one of the busiest parts of the Peak District because of the many tourist activities one can do and visit in Bakewell.

Bakewell town in Peak District
Best things to do in Peak District: Visit Bakewell town

For one, Bakewell is home to the famous British dessert Bakewell Pudding and its variant, Bakewell Tart. The local food is believed to date back to the 18th century and was created by mistake. You can easily have a taste of this famous confection from the many bakeshops in the area.

Another popular attraction of Bakewell is All Saints’ Church, a Grade I-listed architecture. This parish church dates back to 920 during the Anglo-Saxon times and houses two 9th-century crosses. You can also step back in history with relics and monuments that date back to the 14th century. Aside from the ancient architectural design, the church has magnificent stained glass windows.

Bakewell is also famous for its five-arched bridge, a Grade I bridge over River Wye constructed back in the 14th century.

Chatsworth House

Perhaps one of the most notable estates in the Peak District is the Chatsworth House. This historic home of the Duke of Devonshire is believed to be the inspiration for the Pemberley House, where Mr Darcy lives, in the Pride and Prejudice book. Its exterior was even used as a filming location for the 2005 film.

The grandiosity of the house, as well as the sprawling garden and farmland of the estate, can make anyone feel like walking in a fairytale. The main house has about 25 rooms for guests to explore including the Painted Hall, the States Room, and the Sculpture Gallery. Step into the shoes of Elizabeth Bennet as you explore the exquisite foyer leading up to the grand staircase.

Chatsworth House in Peak District
Best things to do in Peak District: Visit the Chatsworth House

The Chatsworth House also has several antique collections of furniture and decorations, some of which are more than 4000 years old. Rare paintings adorned the walls as well, with works from famed artists such as Rembrandt, da Vinci, and Raphael.  

The massive garden of the Chatsworth House is another favourite among tourists. The 150-acre garden is about 450 years old and has a Victorian rock garden and a maze. Another favourite spot among visitors is the 300-year-old cascade fountain. Kids will have a fun time on the farmland and woodland, where they can have the chance to interact with the animals.

The desolate moorland and the sweeping landscape of rural life of the Peak District have also served as inspiration for some of Britain’s classic literature, such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, the tale of Robin Hood of Loxley, and many more. Several tourist spots around Peak District have also been used as filming locations for many classic tv and films.

To know more about the Chatsworth House, visit the Chatsworth website.

Poole’s Cavern

Located at the Buxton, Poole’s Cavern is a true testament to the wonder of nature. The limestone cave has stalactite and stalagmite formations that are almost two million years old. Relics that have been unearthed here suggest that the cave has been around during the Neolithic and early Bronze ages. This area is also a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. 

Poole's Cavern in Peak District
Best things to do in Peak District: Visit Poole’s Cavern
Photo Credit: Poole’s Cavern Gallery

The name Poole’s Cavern came from the fugitive Poole, who hid and lived in the cave during the 15th century. There is also some evidence that the cave was used as a religious shrine.

Today, Poole’s Cavern is only to the public via the Poole’s Cavern and Buxton Country Park tour guide. The guided tour is popular among students because of its educational activities. There are also activities for kids at the nearby woodland park, such as fire starting activity, fossil hunting and temple explorations. 

For booking and scheduling, check out Poole’s Cavern website.

Thor’s Cave

One cave that is sure to catch your attention is Thor’s Cave. Located just outside the Wetton Village in the Staffordshire Peak District, the steep limestone cave overlooks the Manifold Valley. Evidence of life dating back to around 11,000 years ago, like stone pots and amber beads, suggests that the cave has been around since the Iron Ages.

Thor's Cave in Peak District
Best things to do in Peak District: Visit Thor’s Cave

The cavern is particularly popular among tourists because of its distinct look. It is located on the side of a cliff, much like a little hole has been carved out of the mountain. The view from the inside of the cave is breathtaking and Instagrammable indeed.

To get to the cave, one can take the trail via the Manifold Way, which is a 5-mile walk along the countryside of the Staffordshire Peak District.

Heights of Abraham

The Heights of Abraham is where natural wonder meets modern tourism. This tourist spot on top of Masson Hill offers fun and educational activities for families.

A favourite among tourists is the cable car journey, which takes visitors to the top of Masson Hill — about 339 meters above sea level — while enjoying the scenic view of the Derwent Valley. There are two cave-guided tours that will take you around the Masson Cavern and the Rutland Cavern. For some self-guided tours, the park offers an audio tour of their most scenic viewpoints. Other activities of the park include adventure playgrounds for the kids, theatre shows, art and educational exhibition, and many more.

For more information about the park, visit its website.

Bolsover Castle

For anyone looking to explore their Medieval fantasy, of castles and knights, Bolsover Castle is the perfect place for you. This stunning 12th-century Medieval castle is on the northern-east side of Derbyshire.

Originally built in 1155 by the Peverel family, this English castle has been witness to generations of historic events. It was reconstructed between 1612 and 1617 by Sir Charles Cavendish. The castle is now a Grade I listed building and has been tagged as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Bolsover Castle in Peak District
Best things to do in Peak District: Visit Bolsover Castle

Visitors to the area can now step back in time by exploring the different areas of the castle. There are rare collections of paintings, as well as exquisite tapestries and carved furniture. There is also an interactive exhibition where kids can learn more about the castle’s history.

Aside from the architectural wonder of the place, visitors can also enjoy the open spaces outside the castle. Feel like a lord or a lady while you view the castle’s outdoor landscape, including the Terrace Range that overlooks the Vale of Scarsdale; and a Fountain Garden with a Venus statue as a centre of attraction.

Lyme Park

One of the most famous and recognizable estates in the Peak District is Lyme Park. This gorgeous manor and its 1400-acre of garden and moorland park served as a backdrop for the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice.

Lyme Park in Peak District
Best things to do in Peak District: Visit Lyme Park
Julie Anne Workman | CC BY-SA 3.0

Constructed during the Tudor period by the Legh family, it underwent several reconstructions and is now a stunning mixture of Tudor, Victorian and Georgian architecture. Walking through the hallway will make you feel like you’re walking through the evolution of interior design, with luxurious tapestries and furniture collected from different ages adorning this house. 

For fans of classic literature, who can forget the iconic scene of Mr Darcy, played by Colin Firth, emerging from the lake to the shock of Ms Bennet, played by Jennifer Ehle, for the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice? We can’t blame Mr Darcy, though. The Reflection Lake is one of the key features of the estate, with its magnificent water landscape and strategic location in front of the manor. 

Another area of the estate that just offers a serene and stunning landscape is its garden. The second highest garden in the National Trust, the Lyme Park garden has a beautiful collection of daffodils, wildflowers, roses, and exotic trees. Just grab your petticoat and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time and having a tea party in your garden.

To know more about Lyme Park, visit the Lyme Park website.

Tatton Park

Another must-visit for tourists and nature lovers is Tatton Park. Nestled in the Cheshire Peak District, this 100-square-mile estate is famous for its stunning mansion and beautiful garden design.

Tatton Park in Peak District
Best things to do in Peak District: Visit Tatton Park

Built in 1716 by the Egerton family, this neoclassical-style mansion has one of the largest book collections of the National Trust, with the main library housing about 5,000 collections and 4,000 more in private. Among these collections of books are a set of four-volume Japanese woodblock prints from the 19th century. Another artefact found at the Tatton Park mansion is the rare portrait of Francesco Salviati, a famous Renaissance painter.

Tatton Park is also famous for its various garden. There’s the famed Japanese garden, as well as pleasure gardens such as Charlotte’s Garden, Rose Garden, Tower Garden, Italian Garden, and many more. There is also an animal farm for the kids to enjoy and to interact with farm animals.

For more information, visit the Tatton Park website.

Rudyard Lake

For water enthusiasts or for anyone looking for the calm and serene ambience of water, Rudyard Lake is a must-visit destination. This water reservoir, located northwest of Leek Staffordshire, was built in 1797 by Scottish engineer John Rennie and supplies water to the Caldon Canal. Spanning about 664,000 square meters in area, this lake is considered to be the largest straight stretch of water outside the Lake District.

With its magnificent body of water, Rudyard Lake offers one of the most panoramic and dramatic landscapes and skyline views in the Peak District. Tourists can also enjoy bird watching, with species such as herons, ducks and other wading birds roaming around the area.

The area also offers leisure activities around the lake such as boat trips, steam train trips, cycling, and hiking. For sports enthusiasts, there are water activities such as rowing, paddling, canoeing and even fishing.

To know more, visit the Rudyard website.

I hope that helped you to know some of the best things to do in Peak District. If you have been to the Peak District, let me know which one is your favourite attraction or place to recommend.

Best things to do in Peak District for a fun weekend
14 Best Things to Do in Peak District for Fun Weekend Breaks

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ryazan Tristram EverythingZany Author Bio

Ryazan Tristram

Travel Writer & Photographer

Ryazan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She also has more than 10 years of work experience gained from working in the hotel and travel sectors in Asia and Europe. Her work has been featured and published on Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Discovery Channel, World Travel Guide, MSN, CNBC, GMA, Daily Mail UK, Lonely Planet and many more. She is currently living in the UK as a dual citizen (British – Filipina). Join her in travelling around the UK and beyond with a mission to promote sustainable tourism and share travel guides, travel tips, foodies, history and culture.

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