Our weekend guide to Peak District National Park UK – how to best spend your time in Derbyshire if you only have two days…
Great Britain’s Peak District National Park is the original, and many would argue one of the best, national parks in Britain. Founded in 1951, it was the very first of Britain’s 15 national parks.
Stretching out to 555 square miles (around 1,438 square kilometres) in the centre of England, when planning a trip to the Peaks for the very first time, it can be difficult to know where to base yourself to get the most out of your time there.
For a good base for exploration, try anywhere in the areas surrounding the village of Eyam or the town of Bakewell. A mere 15 minute drive from one another, these two villages are a fantastic place to stay in themselves, and offer plenty in terms of things to do, idyllic scenery and interesting history.
Bakewell, perhaps best known for the pudding of the same name, is the biggest town in the Peak District National Park. An array of gastronomical delights awaits you in this attractive town, with farmer’s markets selling fresh, local produce and the Thornbridge Brewery waiting to show you around the home of award-winning crafts beers.
The interesting history of Eyam is enough to draw visitors from throughout the Peaks and beyond. As legend has it “In 1665 a tailor from Eyam ordered a bale of cloth from London to make up into clothes for the villagers, unwittingly triggering a chain of events that led to 260 Eyam villagers dying from bubonic plague…”
The Great Plague is more commonly connected with London, however, the tiny village of Eyam endured more than double the mortality rate suffered by those in the city. Plaques throughout the village tell the story of the villagers who lost their lives to the terrible disease, and those who miraculously lived to tell the tale. As you walk past cottages where records show whole families lost their lives, you will also learn about the heroic sacrifices made by those who lived in Eyam in order to prevent the disease spreading.
For a further fascinating insight, visit the Eyam museum and Eyam Hall – a Jacobean style manor house run by the National Trust.
For those who like to wash their history down with a freshly drawn pint, make a pit-stop at the nearby village of Foolow. The Bulls Head Inn at the heart of the village is family run and serves an extensive menu of homemade, hearty meals too.
Easily reached from either location is the stunning stately home Chatsworth House. Used as the location for period dramas and memorable movies such as Pride & Prejudice, you may recognise the grand 16th century house as you drive through the sweeping grounds.
Although the house is still home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, who are sometimes seen meeting guests as they walk the halls or grounds of the estate, there are still over 30 rooms for you to explore. From Edwardian bedrooms to regal state rooms, masterpieces hanging on the walls and a maze in the grounds, there’s plenty to discover and make a fun-filled day out.
Indulge in a quintessentially English afternoon tea for just £35 per person. Or, add a touch of decadence with a glass of Laurent-Perrier with your buttery scones for £45 per person in the Flying Childers restaurant. Find out more here.
When you’re immersed in as much natural beauty as you are in the Peak District, it goes without saying that one of the best ways to spend your time is simply walking. The Peak District has 1,600 miles of footpaths, bridleways and tracks – so whether you’re walking, riding or cycling there are plenty of ways to explore the awesome landscapes and experience the British countryside at its best.
For those put off putting on walking boots and hitting a trail because of this National Park’s name – don’t be! Although the ‘Peak’ District might suggest a rocky landscape of steep climbs, there are actually no mountains in the Park.
At the centre of England, the Peak District National Park is easily reached from many different areas of the UK. The Park reaches into five counties, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester; and while you can take various train routes into the Park, by far the best mode of transport for your trip is to go by car. The Peak District National Park estimates that 20 million people live within one hour’s journey of the Peak District, and more than 50 million people live within four hours drive of the area. So, if you live in the UK, you’re likely one of them! Even if visiting the UK, Britain’s original National Park is never too far away if you’ve got access to a set of wheels.
Driving will not only allow you to reach the pretty villages and remote hamlets within the vast national park to stay in one of the gorgeous cottages, barn conversions or B&Bs available, but it will also allow you the freedom to explore the rolling hills and immense British countryside that makes up the national park. Drive yourself to the very beginning of a walking trail, or drive further afield to explore a new area of the Park everyday.
Thanks to Vauxhall for loaning us the new Mokka X. The stylish and comfortable SUV is packed with tech including OnStar – your own onboard personal assistant with a built in WiFi hotspot. For more information: www.vauxhall.co.uk