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Duration: 3 days
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The Roaches - The Roaches, Leek ST13 8TA, UK

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.

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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.

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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.

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