The Peak District is a popular holidaying spot, both for its convenient location near to the cities of Manchester and Sheffield and its stunning natural scenery. For those visiting from further afield car hire can be arranged at Manchester Airport with Avis and in just an hour you can be in the heart of the region, discovering the wonders that make it one of the world’s most visited parks. And thanks to its size (it is the fifth biggest National Park in England and Wales) it can feel as though you have the surrounding hillsides all to yourself. With charming villages, miles of walking trails and scenic roads, fantastic attractions and a rich historical legacy, the Peak District deserves a top spot on any family holiday wish list.
The Peak District includes part of the Pennines, with uplands of rounded hills and plateaus. The Dark Peak is the more northern and remote region, with wild moorland and bogs. To the south, the White Peak is a gentler and more inhabited region, with limestone geology and attractive countryside characterised by valleys, rivers, springs and cave systems.
For those wanting to experience the wild beauty of the Peak District, the Snake Pass (part of the A57) winds its way through the uplands between Manchester and Sheffield. It specifically applies to the section of road between Glossop and the Ladybower Reservoir. The Snake Pass has been voted as one of the best driving roads in the country for its incredible scenery and the way it snakes, as its name suggests, through the peaks. There are inns where you can stop off, either for lunch or afternoon tea, and a number of good walks in the area.
One of the walks passes through Kinder and Downfall, with riverside and waterfalls along the way. It is started at Birchen Clough car park, climbing alongside the River Ashop and following the Fair Brook, before climbing up to a plateau for sweeping panoramic views. There are other routes following different paths, but always follow a trail as the area around Kinder is infamous for its peat hags. Another popular walk takes in Bleaklow (not as bleak as its name!) and the beautiful valleys and rivers near Grains in the Water.
The huge number of family attractions in the Peak District includes enchanting caves, exhilarating cable car rides, historic country houses and fun theme parks. Poole’s Cavern is a network of breath-taking limestone caverns where kids can learn about the development of stalactites and stalagmites, while the park above ground offers great countryside views. Take a spectacular cable car ride to the Heights of Abraham and delve beneath the ground into the winding caves, where a light show and guide tell the story of the cavern’s long history.
Adults and children alike will love the splendour of Chatsworth House, with its beautiful gardens and interiors, and the landscaped grounds, including an Edwardian rose garden and peaceful lake, of Lyme Park. Nature attractions include butterfly houses, working farms and wildlife centres where you can learn about bird watching and fishing. Take part in a guided nature walk to make the most of the fantastic natural setting and experience the wonderful flora and fauna of the region.
For those looking for something a little more active, the Peak District has a fantastic variety of adventure sports on offer, from horse-riding and cycling to kayaking and climbing. Kids will love the swimming pools and adventure parks or swinging like a monkey through the trees at Go Ape!
The Peak District isn’t just about nature – there is a thriving arts and culture scene too. The Pomegranate Theatre and Winding Wheel in Chesterfield both have a great programme of shows and events, while Buxton is home to the newly opened Pavilion Arts Centre.