Things to Do in the Peak District: Our Expert Advice
Heading on an adventure to the Peak District? Check out some of the best things to do in this popular national park
The Peak District National Park is one of the most visited in the entire UK, and it isn't hard to see why. Home to a variety of landscapes including limestone valleys, dramatic ridges, moorland plateaus, deep caverns and rolling green hills, the area oozes beauty wherever you look. Naturally, there are countless things to do here, from spending time amongst the scenic nature to exploring the charming market towns and local attractions. And with so many options it can be difficult to plan your time, but that's exactly where we come in. Here at Plum Guide, we know just about everything there is to know about travel, from what to do, where to go, and who to see. If you're searching for activities to add to your Peak District itinerary, then look no further than this expert guide on the very best things to do in the Peak District.
The Peak District is filled with beautiful valleys, and Dovedale is one of its finest. Attracting millions of visitors every year, this picturesque valley is known for its limestone ravines and unorthodox stepping stones that cross the River Dove. From this spot on the river, look up to see the magnificent Thorpe Cloud, a limestone hill looming over the river from the dizzying heights of 287 metres. If you’re feeling active (or crazy), you can actually climb this hill, where you’ll be left breathless (either from the views across Staffordshire and Derbyshire, or the climb itself). Prefer to take things easy? Wander along the river and stroll through the lush woodland, keeping your eyes peeled for the array of wildlife. There are several walks in the Peak District which pass through Dovedale and the surrounding countryside, primarily because it's such an unmissable place. Some popular starting points include Milldale, Wolfscote Dale and Beresford Dale, so take your pick and embark on a picturesque day with the family.
Grab a drink at Forest Distillery
Housed within a 17th-century stone barn in the Peak District, Forest Distillery produces a range of award-winning gin and whiskey. Surrounded by nature, the ingredients are foraged from the forest (try saying that 5 times) and produced using pestle and mortars. Take a tour of the gin distillery to learn how botanicals are used in the distillation process, and see how the distillery’s very own ancient spring produces a constant supply of fresh water to make their spirits. And don’t worry, the tour does include a tasting experience. Forest Distillery also has a shop and gin garden within the Pavilion Gardens in the Derbyshire spa town of Buxton, so the adventure doesn't have to end with the tour. If whiskey is your poison, you may want to take a short drive to the Cat & Fiddle Distillery - we wouldn't want you missing out, after all.
Try your hand at rock climbing and abseiling
Warning: you might not want to do this straight after the distillery tour (or, perhaps it'll give you the courage to do so?). With its craggy peaks and ridges, what better way to experience the Peak District’s landscape than by climbing the rocks and subsequently throwing yourself off them? There are numerous adventure companies dotted around the Peak District, each offering different courses - all led by trained professionals, you'll be pleased to know. Some of the most popular locations to climb include Stanage Edge, Froggatt Edge, Curbar Edge and Burbage. The climbs each have an agreed difficulty level, so make sure you choose a spot that matches your ability. Once you finally reach the peak of your climb, you do need to get back down, so what better way than simply retracing your steps. Some of the best spots to abseil in the Peak District include the Matlock, Buxton, and Heathersage areas, while Millers Dale Bridge is one of the most scenic places you'll discover. When else do you get to abseil off a 90ft high old railway bridge, with a swift-moving river beneath you?
Climb up Kinder Scout
At 2,087 feet, Kinder Scout is the highest point in the entire national park - this simply has to be on every climber’s list of things to do in the Peak District. Those willing to brave the climb will be greeted by awe-inspiring views from the (rather inappropriately named) summit, Kinder Low. The hike offers a remarkable range of scenery and landscapes, with unique moorland, gentle streams, steep rocks, and the majestic Kinder Downfall waterfall all helping make the view truly special. There are various trails you can take, starting from the villages of Edale and Hayfield in the High Peak. The route from Edale is the most popular, and takes around four to five hours to climb up to the summit, so pack your bags wisely.
Dive into some wild swimming
It may be landlocked, but the Peak District has some great spots for wild swimming. Various rivers, natural pools, and tarns around the national park offer a refreshing dip with killer views. Three Shires Head on the River Dane is arguably the most picturesque place to swim, complete with plunge pools and waterfalls. A great alternative spot is Slippery Stones (careful) in Upper Derwent, a deep pool of cold, clear water perfect for cooling off after a hike in the hills. Another favourite is Black Mere Pool in Staffordshire, located up on the moors near the town of Leek. Legend has it that a witch drowned here, so you may want to avoid it if you're superstitious. Also steeped in local legend is Mermaid’s Pool, high up on Kinder Scout - it’s said that if you see a mermaid in the water at Easter, you’re granted immortality. We wish you all the luck in the world. Be warned though, these waters are quite cold, so be sure to pack your best wetsuit.
Take a trip to Bakewell
One of the best things to do in the Peak District is to get a taste of the local life, so explore the numerous villages and market towns dotted around the area. Bakewell is one of the most visited towns, which is no surprise considering its reputations for delicious Bakewell puddings. Legend has it that it was made by mistake by a local cook in the 19th century - that's definitely what you call a happy accident. Head to the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop in the centre of town to sample one (or five) of these treats.
Walk off those puddings with a tranquil stroll around the town, remembering exactly why you chose this area as your preferred holiday destination. Idyllically situated on the River Wye, Bakewell’s stone buildings, medieval five-arched stone bridge, and quiet courtyards make for a lovely setting to enjoy a relaxed adventure. Stop by the town’s bustling outdoor market to pick up some local produce, or browse through the selection of independent shops selling everything from rare whiskies to handmade chocolates. Don’t forget to pop into The Old House Museum, one of the oldest buildings in Bakewell, to learn more about the town’s fascinating past.