10 marvellous things to do in the Peak District National Park

by Jan

Looking for the best things to do in the Peak District, the UK’s first national park?

The Peak District is a stunning area in the heart of England.  Expansive moorland, ancient forests and its own unique geology provide a captivating landscape which attracts thousands of visitors from near and far.

With miles of hiking trails, stunning historical houses and charming spa towns, the Peak District National Park has loads to offer its visitors.  It’s breathtaking scenery makes it a paradise for hikers of all abilities and the magnificent stately homes will delight any history-lovers.  Plus, there’s plenty for kids too.  If you’re visiting the Peak District with children, there are all kinds of family-friendly attractions.

In our Peak District travel guide, we’ll bring you our pick of the best things to do so you can plan your own itinerary.  We’ve just spent a week there with teens and had a whale of a time!

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Read on for our 10 marvellous things to do in the Peak District National Park

Climb the Shivering Mountain

Paraglider flying alongside the Mam Tor, Derbyshire

With thousands of miles of scenic trails, one of the best reasons to visit the Peak District is to go hiking.  With such a stunning natural landscape, this National Park is a paradise for walkers and nature lovers.

One of the most popular routes in the Peak District is to Mam Tor.   Known as the Shivering Mountain, Mam Tor is a stunning ridge, providing breathtaking views over Edale and the Hope Valley.

However, there are loads of amazing walks in the national park and not just for experienced hikers.

A day out at Chatsworth House

For history-lovers and Jane Austen fans, one of the very best things to do in the Peak District is visit Chatsworth House.

View of Chatsworth House terrace with dog statue, Bakewell, Peak District

Chatsworth House is a magnificent stately home on the outskirts of Bakewell in Derbyshire. It rose in popularity when it was chosen as the filming location for Mr Darcy’s mansion in Pride and Prejudice

Set in 105 acres of gardens, Chatsworth House sits on an enormous estate, with elaborate water features and giant sculptures.  For children they have a maze, adventure playground, and mini farmyard.  Inside the house, visitors can admire the opulent interiors and fine art collection.

Chatsworth House is one of the top tourist attractions in the Peak District, bringing in thousands of visitors each year.

Explore Padley Gorge

water at Burgabe brook, with large boulders and moss-covered trees at Padley Gorge

Padley Gorge is a deep-sided river gorge in the Peak District in Derbyshire.  It’s an other-worldly place with twisted trees, mossy boulders, and waterfalls.

You can walk to Padley Gorge from the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate.  The valley cuts through a picturesque ancient oak woodland, which provides a dramatic landscape for walkers, photographers, and nature-lovers.    Just 10 miles from Sheffield this is a fairy-tale location, that you must visit if you’re in the Peak District.

Read more:  A walk to the mystical Padley Gorge

Take a cable car to the Heights of Abraham

The Heights of Abraham is a unique family attraction in the historic town of Matlock Bath on the south edge of the Peak District.  The Heights of Abraham is a hilltop country park which has been welcoming visitors since the 19th century.

Three pods of cable cars at Abraham Heights, Derbyshire

The visit to the Heights of Abraham starts with an exciting flight across the valley in the iconic cable car.  You can enjoy  views across the Derbyshire Dales as the alpine-style gondola transports you up the hill.

At the top one of the highlights of the Heights to Abraham is a guided underground tour through the two illuminated show caves.  Other attractions at the Heights of Abraham include a climb up the Victoria Prospect Tower, woodland trails, and a children’s playground.

Admission prices and opening times for Heights of Abraham .

Visit the site of the Dambusters Bouncing Bomb

Derwent Dam, Peak District

The Derwent Dam is an incredible landmark in the heart of the Peak District.  Not only is it a brilliant feat of engineering, but one of the test sites for Barnes Wallis’ new bouncing bombs.  It was here that  Squadron 617 Royal Air Force carried out a daring training exercise to practise their low level flying in advance of the Dambuster Raids.

In fact, the Derwent Dam is just one of three dams worth a visit in the Peak District.  Alongside the Howden and Ladybower Reservoirs, it provides the water supplies to the local area.

The breathtaking landscape around the reservoirs provides a popular area for hikers and nature-lovers.  From here you can get to several famous Peak District Walks, including hikes to Alport Castles and Bamford Edge.

Have fun at Gulliver's Kingdom

One of the best things to do in the Peak District with kids is a visit to Gulliver’s Kingdom.  Set high on the hillside in Matlock Bath, Gulliver’s Kingdom is a family theme park full of adrenaline-filled adventures.

Aimed at younger children, Gulliver’s Kingdom has 20 fun rides in six themed areas.  Youngsters will love a whizz down the log flume, a spin in the crazy barrel, or a ride on the flying bikes.

As well as rides, Gulliver’s Kingdom has themed play areas, climbing frames, crazy golf, and an indoor play barn.  They even have a Toyland for the under 5s.

Click for admission prices and opening hours at Gulliver’s Kingdom

Climb up to Thor's Cave

View from inside cave over Manifold valley, Peak District

Located on a limestone crag, Thor’s Cave is a impressive cave with jaw-dropping views over the Manifold Valley.  It is one of the Peak District’s many natural attractions.

It’s an easy walk to Thor’s Cave from the pretty village of Wetton.  However, when you get to the cave it’s a bit of a scramble climbing up into it.

Inside the cave, you can explore the crooks and crannies and admire the view over the Staffordshire Peak District.

Eat Bakewell Pudding

View from Bakewell Bridge over River Wye at Bakewell. Cascade of water next to quaint stone cottages.

Bakewell is the largest town in the Peak District and best known for its famous tart, the Bakewell Pudding.  It is a picturesque market town, located on the banks of the River Wye.

Visitors to Bakewell can stroll round the shops, visit the Lovelock Bridge, or take a stroll along the riverside.  Of course, you also need to pop into the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop to pick up some Bakewell Tart.

Nearby you can visit Chatsworth House or Hadden Hall, two magnificent stately homes on the outskirts of Bakewell.

Read more:  Best things to do in Bakewell

Cycle the Monsal Trail

If you fancy a change from hiking, a cycle ride on the Monsal trail is a brilliant idea.  This picturesque cycle route follows the path of a disused railway, passing ancient lime kilns and railway tunnels along the way.

Railway tunnel walk on Monsal Trail, Peak District

Covering a distance of 8.5 miles each way, this is a flat traffic-free cycle path, so ideal for beginners and families.

The Monsal Trail stretches from Bakewell to Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale.  You can stop for refreshments along the way at Millers Dale Café, a former railway station.

We’ve done the Monsal Trail by bike and on foot and loved both.  I’d highly recommend it as one of the best things to do in the Peak District.

Read moreCycle the Monsal Trail

Enjoy the thrills and spills of Alton Towers

If you’re looking for a thrilling day out, Alton Towers is located just on the edge of the Peak District in Staffordshire.

Spread over 910 acres Alton Towers is the UK’s largest theme park, with exhilarating rides and activities for all ages.  It’s a paradise for adrenaline-lovers seeking thrills on high-octane rollercoasters such as Nemesis Reborn and Oblivion.

For the less adventurous, you’ll find water adventures, runaway trains and haunted houses.

Younger children will love a visit to CBeebies Land, where they will find slower rides named after their favourite TV shows such as Octonauts and Postman Pat.

If you want to make the most of your visit, you can stay overnight in one of the themed resort hotels.

Click here for admission prices and opening hours at Alton Towers.

Useful information for your visit to the Peak District

Accommodation in the Peak District

There’s plenty of accommodation in the Peak District to suit all budgets.  Here is our pick of the best:

There’s also an abundance of good quality self-catering accommodation in the Peak District.

Getting to the Peak District National Park

We'd love to hear from you.

What are your favourite things to do in the Peak District? We’d love to hear your comments below.

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