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EUROPE > UK > England | Peak District

The Best of the Peak District

Chris Sabian

Article & Pictures © 2007 Chris Sabian

T/T #76
Feature Article


With towns such as Buxton, with its wonderful architecture and cultural life, along with picturesque Bakewell and the attractions of Matlock, you’ll be spoiled for choice with places to stay and things to see and do.


The Peak District holds the proud distinction of being Britain’s first National Park, and once you see the rolling hills and craggy dales of Derbyshire you’ll soon realise why. Situated right at the heart of England this is perhaps one of the most accessible areas, and it offers the broadest selection of landscapes and attractions.

This is a region of contrasts, with wild moorland and classic walking country encompassing every kind of activity from a gentle stroll to the lofty challenge of the Peaks themselves. The leafy lanes and quiet villages are ideal for that feeling of getting away from it all. With towns such as Buxton, with its wonderful architecture and cultural life, along with picturesque Bakewell and the attractions of Matlock, you’ll be spoiled for choice with places to stay and things to see and do.

From cosy farmhouses and welcoming guest houses to international hotels, you’ll find all the hospitality and comfort you need for a really memorable break. There’s plenty to see, such as breathtaking caverns where the precious Blue John stone is mined, the night-time spectacle of the Matlock Illuminations and a trip back in time at the Crich Tramway Village.

The Peak District contains all the best elements of Britain, and as a destination for that memorable break, it’s unbeatable. Here's my top five places to visit:


Chatsworth House. This is one of Britain's most celebrated and best loved historic houses and estates, offering something for everyone to enjoy, from world famous works of art and spectacular fountains to elegant shops and more than a hundred miles of free walks. The home of the Devonshire family is set in the heart of England, in Derbyshire's Peak District National Park, surrounded by one of the most magnificent landscapes in the country. Built to be seen and enjoyed, Chatsworth has a long tradition of welcoming visitors from around the world, who have always been drawn by its unique and welcoming atmosphere. Today, visitors of all ages come to enjoy Chatsworth's fascinating mixture of tradition and innovation, learning and entertainment.

Castleton Caverns. Castleton has four underground show caves, the main two being Blue John Cavern and Peak Cavern, alongside Speedwell Cavern and Treak Cliff being the most impressive. Peak Cavern lies beneath Peveril Castle whilst Treak Cliff and Blue John both contain veins of the rare mineral Blue John, that is only found in this area of Britain, and was discovered by miners who explored the caves originally looking for lead. Castleton is one of the most beautiful villages in the Peak District. It has an array of natural and historical features both above and below ground, and is surrounded by superb walking country. Whatever the weather Castleton has something to offer everyone.

Derwent Valley Reservoirs. In this beautiful part of the Peak District National Park there are three linked reservoirs — Ladybower, Upper Derwent and Howden — that offer an aura of wildness and beauty. This is a popular venue for cyclists, with routes for both mountain bikers and other cyclists, for walkers and horse riders. Its a great place for a picnic.

Cromford. Part of this historic village is designated as a World Heritage Site, and it is surrounded by some glorious scenery in the Derbyshire Dales. It is forever associated with Sir Richard Arkwright as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Arkwright built the world’s first water powered cotton mills here and pioneered the factory system. The village is full of history and interest. From the Cromford canal system to the Cromford and High Peak Railway to Nature Reserves and the Derwent Valley Heritage Trail. All this and within walking distance of Matlock Bath.

Peak District, Mam Tor - click to enlargeMam Tor. This, one of the 'Seven Wonders of the Peak', rises on the west side of Castleton. Layers of gritstone and shale are exposed and there are constant landslips down the side of the hill. These have forced the closure of the road which used to run across its side. Legend has it that although the surface constantly crumbles and slides downwards, the shadow of the hill never grows any smaller. Mam Tor is also the Peak District's highest and most impressive Bronze Age hill fort.

There are so many attractions to see in the Peak District that your stay will never be long enough.

 

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