3 Days in the Peak District National Park

Travel Itinerary

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Matt Lynch
Itinerary by: Matt Lynch
2 months ago
Travel Writer
Duration: 3 days

INTRODUCTION TO 3 DAYS IN THE PEAK DISTRICT In the north of England lies the rolling hills and lush vales of the Peak District National Park. The landscape is split into the geologically distinct areas of the Dark Peak and the White Peak. The Dark Peak is dominated by moorland and grit sandstone whilst the White Peak forms sweeping limestone valleys and impressive gorges that have been eroded from the plateau. In both instances, the result is magnificent. Though not perhaps as dramatic as the likes of the Lake District or Snowdonia, the Peak District offers a slice of classic English countryside and is home to hundreds of excellent hiking trails. Since its inception in 1951 as the first National Park in England and Wales, it has long been a favourite of outdoor lovers and is widely considered to be a hill walker’s paradise. Perhaps the most famous of these trails is the Pennine Way, England’s first and oldest National Trails walking path. This epic 268-mile trail begins in the village of Edale, located in the middle of the Peak District, and makes its way north to the border with Scotland. Though this hike is of course too long to be walked in three days, you can get a sample of the trail by completing a shorter section during this itinerary. The Peak District spans 555 square miles and is nestled between three great northern cities: Manchester, Sheffield, and Leeds. These settlements were particularly influential during the 19th century and spurred on the British Industrial Revolution. Today, these cities can be seen from the tips of the hills and their historic impact can be found throughout the Peak District in old mines, caverns, and mills. The landscape has a huge amount to offer, much of it being quintessential English countryside. Wild moorland plateaus drop into plunging valleys filled with a patchwork of sheep grazing fields. Grit escarpments and stony ridges flow into reservoirs and more bulging hills that hump into the distance. The Peak District is decorated with ancient history. The area shows signs of inhabitation back to the Mesolithic era. Settlers have roamed the land throughout the Neolithic period and agricultural practices were developed during the Bronze and Iron ages. No trip to the Peak District would be complete without a trip to an English countryside pub. The villages and towns around the National Park are packed with excellent options. There’s something immensely satisfying about enjoying a local cask ale and a highly calorific meal, whilst surrounded by the natural landscape you’ve just conquered. A country pub and a jaunt in the hills, what could be more English? BEST TIME OF YEAR TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN THE PEAK DISTRICT? The Peak District, like much of England, is subjected to a four-season weather pattern. Conditions are generally mild throughout the country but that doesn’t mean you can’t get more extreme and adverse weather conditions at certain times of the year. Most people choose to visit the Peak District in the summer. Calm, still days with lots of sun are what most hikers are looking for. However, this comes with some serious drawbacks. You will rarely, if ever, have the walking paths to yourself and will often find yourself jostling with other hikers on the summits. The car parks will fill up early and there will be traffic jams on the narrow country roads. The small towns and villages become thronged with people and lose some of their charm as holidaymakers spill out of the cafes and pubs into the surrounding streets. So, what is the alternative? If you are set on visiting in summer, aim for midweek and try to get up early when hiking. Avoid public holidays and weekends wherever possible. Fringe seasons of spring and autumn are another great option. Spring will also bring plenty of hikers but in a much more manageable load. Accommodation is easier to book and access to the car parks will be more feasible. Often, you can get days just as beautiful in the spring as you can in the summer. Autumn is perfect hiking weather. Crisp, frosty mornings and autumn-hued colours lining the hills and valleys. Good weather can spill into September and even October, so make sure you capitalise on the good days. Snow, although not common, isn’t unheard of in the Peak District. Short, dark days don’t make for the most pleasant hiking conditions and often the skies are grey and overcast. But if it’s isolation you’re after, then this is the season for you. WHERE TO STAY FOR 3 DAYS IN THE PEAK DISTRICT? Camping is the name of the game in the Peak District. Hillwalking and camping are so often synonymous with each other, and for good reason. The outdoor pursuits link in wonderful harmony allowing you to make the most of your time in nature. There are numerous campsites perched right at the base of the walking trails, though advanced booking is often required during high season. Wild camping, though not technically allowed in England and Wales, is often attempted in some of the more remote areas of the National Park. Generally, those who are discrete and pitch tents high on the peaks and away from any settlements have no trouble whatsoever. What could be better than watching the sunset from your tent with a warm cup of tea in hand? BnBs and guesthouses fill the villages and towns of the Peak District. The quaint settlements with Georgian stone buildings and old wooden beams make for a homely setting. Sitting by a cosy wood fire and looking out the window at the surrounding peaks is about as good as it gets. Edale, although small, has a few options. For more choice, aim for the towns of Castleton, Hope, Buxton, and Bakewell – to name a few. It all depends on how close you want to be to your hiking location. If you want to roll out of bed onto the hills, prioritise this when choosing where you want to stay. TRANSPORT FOR 3 DAYS IN THE PEAK DISTRICT? For day trips, various parts of the Peak District are easily accessible. Trains run directly into Edale for those wishing to visit the Hope Valley. There is a line that cuts between Sheffield and Manchester with a few stops that allow access to the Peaks. You can also reach Buxton by train. Other public transport options include busses and taxis. Busses are limited in their use but can get you between the villages with relative ease. Taxis are expensive and not ideal for getting between remote areas. Ideally, you should drive when visiting the Peak District. It will allow you the most freedom when accessing the National Park and permits you to visit areas on your own schedule. As the Peak District is in the middle of northern England, it is surrounded by major cities linked to the rest of the country by a string of motorways. This makes it easy to access by car, although parking can be a problem. Try to leave early and plan ahead where you wish to park to make your life as easy as possible. If you don’t have access to a car, it’s highly recommended you hire one to make the most of your 3 days in the Peak District. BONUS LOCATIONS - Bamford Edge & Stanage Edge - Dovedale - Chee Dale - Caving excursions TOP TIPS Navigation: - The hiking trails in the Peak District are well labelled and maintained. Signposts are used to direct you between the key features and you’ll likely find other walkers following the same paths as you. As the Peak District is relatively low in stature, 636 metres on Kinder Scout is the highest point, it’s often easy to see where you’re going. - The valleys drop away below, and you can make out the towns and villages you started from and the ridgelines you need to walk along. This of course assumes the weather is good. In the event of rain or cloud, the peaks can still be disorientating and carrying a map or GPS device with you provides that extra bit of navigational support if you don’t want to solely rely on signposting.

Day 1

Ridge Hiking & Cave Exploring

You will begin your Peak District trip with a 12 km hike in the Staffordshire area of the Peak District. This trail links together the stone features of The Roaches and Lud’s Church. Public footpath signposts are easy to follow throughout the trail and point you in the direction of the main sites. The hike will take 3 – 3.5 hours, if taken at an amble. It’s worth carrying some snacks with you to stop and enjoy the views. A thermos of tea wouldn’t go amiss! The afternoon will see a pub lunch at Tittesworth Reservoir before a clamber into the gaping mouth of Thor's Cave.
09:00 - 11:00
The Roaches
The Roaches, Leek ST13 8TA, UK
The Roaches are located in Staffordshire county of the Peak District. They are a spine of rock that erupts from the valley and are a fantastic spot for scramblers, walkers, and rock climbers. It's a 505-metre escarpment that juts from the valley like the back of a stegosaurus. The ridge links to Ramshaw Rocks and Hen Cloud to form a magnificent gritstone escarpment. It rises above the nearby market town of Leek and the Tittesworth Reservoir. Today, The Roaches form a Nature Reserve that is maintained by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. It's the site of special habitats such as blanket bog and upland moorland. Many specialist birds over-winter on The Roaches or use it as a breeding ground. Species such as curlew, red grouse, and tree pipit. The Roaches are in the centre of a triangle between Leek, Buxton, and Macclesfield, which makes it an easily accessible area. Settled amongst the tips of The Roaches are the mysterious still waters of Doxey Pool. It’s a feature that has conjured up many magical tales and myths. The most common story suggests there is a malevolent mermaid called Jenny Greenteeth that lives in its depths. Others claim it is a bottomless void that goes down and down, disappearing into murky blackness.
Article By: Matt Lynch

Notes

If rock climbing is for you, there are numerous 15 metre clefts to scale up. Alternatively, lots of climbers bring foam pads with them and do some bouldering on the lower rocks.

Getting there

There are two official car parks, one at Lud’s Church and the other at The Roaches. There are also areas of roadside parking but be aware, they are vigilant with dishing out parking tickets if you don’t abide by the rules. Like Mam Tor and Kinder Scout, this area fills up fast on sunny days. Make sure you get there early! The trail has no access by train and public transport is fairly limited. It’s possible to catch the number 16 bus that links Leek with Buxton and get off at Old Buxton Road. From here you must walk through Upper Holme to reach the base of The Roaches.

11:00 - 12:30
Lud's Church
Buxton SK17 0SU, UK
This natural gulley of rock is nestled behind The Roaches in the shadowy glade of the Back Forest. It perches above the gushing waters of the River Dane on the eastern slopes. Climbing down into this chasm, with the steep rock walls rising narrowly above you, is a surreal experience. It is 100 metres long and 18 metres deep. The walls are cool and damp, lined with living moss that climbs up the rock to the lips of the cavern. Forest foliage dangles over the gap above you giving the area an enchanted feel! Lud's Church is a geological feature that cuts into the Millstone Grit bedrock and was formed following a landslip on the hillside above Gradbach. The area is shrouded with religious myth and history. It's thought that pagan midsummer worship may have occurred on the few days of the year that the light penetrates to the depths of the ravine. Lollards may have used it as a secret place of alternative Christian worship in the 1400s to evade the watchful eye of the Roman Catholic Church. Some say it's the setting for the Green Chapel from the Arthurian story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Whatever you believe, your mind will undoubtedly be filled with wandering visions as you enter this mysterious place.
Article By: Matt Lynch

Getting there

Lud's Church is part of the same area as the Roaches. Simply follow the signposts along the trail and you will find it!

12:45 - 14:00
The Lazy Trout Pub
Ivy Cottages, Meerbrook, Leek ST13 8SN, UK
The Lazy Trout is only a short drive from The Roaches car park. It's a cosy countryside pub that offers the perfect post-hike meal. Perched on the edge of Tittesworth Reservoir, what better thing to do than eat a pub meal in the valley you’ve just been admiring from the hill! A stone building with low ceilings and a classic English pub interior. From the beer garden, you can sit and look up towards the hills of the Peak District and the ridge you just hiked along. Image Credits: Gonzalo Remy on Unsplash
Article By: Matt Lynch

Getting there

The Lazy Trout is a short drive from The Roaches UKC roadside parking.

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
14:00 - 16:30
Thor's Cave
Grindon, Leek ST13, UK
A naturally occurring karst cave eroded from the limestone bedrock by years of rain. Set in the Wetton Hills of the Manifold Valley, this steep and slippery hiking route makes for quite the adventure! The cave shows signs of inhabitation from 11,000 years ago. Tools, artefacts, and the burial remains of seven people have all been found in the cave. A short walk from Wetton Mill takes you through a canyon and along the River Manifold up to the entrance of the 60 foot cave. If you've got the energy, consider including a loop around Ecton Hill and Wetton Hill too! Image Credits: Rob Bendall on Wikimedia Commons; T Chalcraft on Wikimedia Commons
Article By: Matt Lynch

Getting there

A short drive east will take you to the village of Wetton in the Staffordshire area of the Peak District. There's parking and toilets here to begin your walk.

Travel time
0 hours 25 minutes

Day 2

Stately Homes & Tasty Treats

The morning will be spent in the eastern side of the Peak District at Chatsworth House, where you will tour around the magnificent house and gardens. Then it's over to the beautiful Bakewell to stroll around the stone-built market town and to see the dark waters of the River Wye. A stop at one of the oldest bakeries in Bakewell to fill your teeth with the sugary British pudding: Bakewell tart. In the afternoon, it's over to Chrome Hill for a short hill walk between the "Dragon's Back".
09:00 - 12:00
Chatsworth House
Chatsworth House, Bakewell DE45 1PP, UK
Set amongst the Derbyshire Dales, this Grade I listed stately home has been voted Britain’s favourite countryside house in numerous polls. Built in the 18th century, the property is home to an exquisite collection of historical artefacts and paintings. The architecture of the house is sublime, as are the 105-acres of immaculately tended gardens that fringe the building. The house is surrounded by thick woodland and the property is fronted by the placid waters of the River Derwent. 16 generations of the Cavendish family have held ownership of the property. Throughout the year, Chatsworth House holds numerous events including: an outdoor cinema, horse trials, country fairs, and Christmas markets. Image Credits: Rprof on Wikimedia Commons
Article By: Matt Lynch
Standard 24.00 GBP
Group 12.20 GBP
Kids 12.50 GBP Under 15

Getting there

Chatsworth House sits on the east of the National Park between Chesterfield and Bakewell.

12:00 - 14:00
Bakewell
Bakewell DE45, UK
Bakewell is the only town officially situated inside the Peak District National Park. It's a market town home to the famous English pudding: the Bakewell tart. Clustered around the River Wye, Bakewell is built from weather-worn stone and is home to magnificent stone-arched bridges that cross the river. A popular walk is along the Monsal Trail. It follows the path of a former 19th-century railway line. The full trail is 8.5 miles long and passes through six tunnels. A preliminary section of the trail starts at Bakewell and leads up to Hassop. Image Credits: Kmtextor on Wikimedia Commons
Article By: Matt Lynch

Notes

Take a stroll along the River Wye and amble around the market town. Be sure to visit Bakewell Bridge to admire the scenic stone arches.

Travel time
0 hours 15 minutes
13:00 - 14:00
The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop
The Square, 1 The Square, Bakewell DE45 1BT, UK
What better place to try a Bakewell tart than the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop in Bakewell – that’s a mouthful, literally. A Bakewell tart is an English pudding made from shortcrust pastry, jam, frangipane, and flaked almonds. There are a few variations of the Bakewell tart including shapes, sizes, and some puddings that contain icing and glacé cherries. The bakery is in the centre of Bakewell market square and is inside a historic building dating back to the 1800s. The pudding was allegedly invented due to a mistake. The cook, while making a strawberry tart, mistakenly spread the egg mixture on top of a layer of jam rather than stirring it into the pastry. The rest, as they say, is history. Image Credits: Mr Eugene Birchall on Wikimedia Commons
Article By: Matt Lynch

Getting there

The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop is on the corner of Rutland Square and Anchor Square, close to the centre of town.

Travel time
0 hours 5 minutes
14:00 - 17:00
Chrome Hill
Chrome Hill, Buxton SK17 0RW, UK
Chrome Hill is a 425-metre limestone knoll in the Upper Dove valley. Since discovering Gigantoproductus fossils in the vicinity, the area has since been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill are two summits of the Peak District that face each other alongside the River Dove. Due to their rolling spine-like quality, they have been given the nickname Dragon’s Back. This is a relatively quiet area of the peaks and is a perfect spot for watching sunset or sunrise. During midsummer, there’s a fantastic celestial event that occurs. The sun sets on one side of Chrome Hill, then reappears again on the far side before at last setting on the horizon. This gives the viewer the illusion of experiencing two sunsets simultaneously! There’s roadside parking in the village of Earl Sterndale. One can take a short amble up to the hills and admire them from the bottom, or climb to the summit of both hills, energy permitting. Image Credits: Drew Collins on Unsplash
Article By: Matt Lynch

Getting there

A bucolic drive should take you west, across the Peak Distrcit, to reach Chrome Hill in the afternoon. Enjoy the scenic views through the dales and over the fields.

Travel time
0 hours 30 minutes

Day 3

Kinder Scout & Mam Tor

Today saves arguably the best till last. A 17 km hike around the Hope Valley through the famous Kinder Scout and around to Mam Tor. The full trail will take five hours due to the steep ascents and descents that must be climbed. It can take longer/shorter than this depending on any diversions you choose to take. Expect to be out walking for most of the day in any case. It’s worth bringing plenty of snacks with you and even a packed lunch if you want to enjoy your breaks and eat whilst taking in the spectacular views. From every ridge and hill on this walk, you seem to get a view in a different direction. Try to spot the towns and villages scattered in the distance as well as the remains of the old mines and mills. In the afternoon, take your tired legs back down to the village of Edale. Prop your weary feet in front of a roaring fire or sit in the sunshine of the beer garden. A pint and a pub dinner to round off your 3 days in the Peak District.
09:00 - 12:00
Kinder Scout
Kinder Scout, High Peak S33 7ZJ, UK
Located in Derbyshire county, Kinder Scout is one of the most famous areas in the Peak District and a highlight of the Hope Valley. It is a rugged moorland plateau and nature reserve. The best way to see Kinder Scout is on foot. The hike can be started from a few locations but Edale is opportune due to its accessibility. However, be warned, Edale is strict on its parking policy. There are a couple of car parks, but they fill up very quickly in the high season. Aside from that, there are numerous signs warning people not to park on the road. The village isn’t particularly big and if it runs out of parking you may be out of options! You can catch a train directly into Edale if you’re coming from Manchester or Sheffield. This saves you the trouble of looking for parking spots and is an easy way to access the Peak District on foot. The trail begins by following an avenue of trees north. The path then hooks through some livestock fields before opening onto a steep climb. There are various paths and diversions you can take once you’re on top of the peak. You can head up to Grindslow Knoll or push along the side of the valley into the Kinder Scout National Nature Reserve. You can keep pushing north, across the plateau, to find the River Kinder. Here you’ll see a waterfall that drops into the valley: Kinder Downfall. If you follow the river, you’ll stumble across the Mermaid’s Pool where hikers tend to go wild camping. This trail will take you down to Kinder Reservoir. Though, you’re now on the other side of the valley from where you started. If you remain on the plateau, you will head west past the Woolpacks, a wind-carved rock formation, before approaching the trig point of Kinder Low. The trail then turns south and crosses over the Pennine Way. From here, you can turn east and descend back into the Hope Valley via Jacobs Ladder and complete your walk in Edale. Alternatively, you can press on and reach Mam Tor, the summit on the opposing side of the valley.
Article By: Matt Lynch

Notes

You can tackle Kinder Scout from a few different angles depending on what you want to see. Edale is the best position if you wish to include Mam Tor in your itinerary.

12:00 - 15:00
Mam Tor
Mam Tor, Hope Valley S33 8WA, UK
Mam Tor is a 517-metre high peak on the southern side of the Hope Valley. The name means “mother hill” as the numerous landslips have birthed a number of hillocks in the surrounding area. The peak is also of historic interest as Bronze Age barrows along the ridge mark the remains of Bronze Age hill forts. There is a car park right below the summit on the road leading into Edale from Castleton. As it’s so close to the summit, this isn’t recommended unless you only want to see the views from the top and not to enjoy the walk. The best way to see Mam Tor is to include it in a loop hike alongside Kinder Scout. Beginning in Edale, hike up to Kinder Scout then counter-clockwise around to Mam Tor. Alternatively, walk west along the Pennine Way from Edale and climb Jacob’s Ladder to get you to the top of the hills. You can then turn south and loop your way round to Mam Tor. This is a shorter variation on the walk which still allows you to take in the best of the views. You will cross the Brown Knoll moorland on a series of paving slabs that act like stepping stones through the peaty areas of bog before reaching a junction at Chapel Gate. Here, you will turn east and follow the ridge along the Hope Valley. The track will lead you over turnstiles, past Lord’s Seat, before suddenly reaching a road. Cross this road and climb up a short but steep trail to take you to the top of Mam Tor. You’ll be greeted by a whole new set of views that stretch away to the south. Follow the eyeline of the ridge and you should be able to make out the features of Back Tor and Lose Hill that jut out into the valley. Walk along to Hollins Cross before turning north and descending into the valley. Cross over the River Noe and return to Edale back where you started.
Article By: Matt Lynch

Notes

Mam Tor can also be accessed from various loacations. If you start in Edale, you can walk round Kinder Scout, over Mam Tor, and back into Edale.

15:00 - 17:00
The Rambler Inn
Edale, Hope Valley S33 7ZA, UK
After finishing your strenuous hike, what could be better than settling into a hearty pub meal gulped down with a local ale? The Rambler Inn is a pub designed for hill-walkers and outdoor lovers. The stone building is filled with fireplaces and cosy corners in every room. In the warmer months, hikers spill out into the pub garden which opens onto panoramic views of the peaks in the distance. Image Credits: Dan Barrett on Unsplash
Article By: Matt Lynch

Getting there

The Rambler Inn is on the northern side of Edale train station and car park.

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
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About the author

I have visited nearly 50 countries so far with some of my favourite destinations being: New Zealand, Norway, Japan, Mongolia, Iceland. I love hiking and all activities that involve exploring the outdoors. If you're interested in nature, walking, and adventures outdoors then you're going to enjoy my articles! Check out my website for some other travel blogs from around the world: https://mattwalkwild.com/ .

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