2023 has just begun, and what better way to start than planning a trip to the Peak District. Known and loved by many for its breath-taking views, bustling market towns, pretty villages, historic houses and stately homes, famous attractions and hundreds of traditional events. There really is something for everyone to see, do, eat and enjoy. To help you get started on planning your next adventure in the Peak District, we’ve put together a list of top 23 things to do in the Peak District in 2023.
Home of the Kinder Mass Trespass and the birthplace of National Parks, you can’t visit the Peak District National Park without partaking in your own ramble. With 555 square miles of Peak District to explore you can be sure to find many walking routes to suit all ages and abilities. And for the keenest of walkers, there is a fab hill walking challenge in the form of 95 Ethels in the Peak District.
Like the Wainwright's in the Lake District or the Monroe’s in Scotland, these 95 hilltops, named after the pioneering environmentalist Ethel Haythornthwaite, all stand over 400m above sea level, along with some significant lower prominent hills that stand out in their own right. The fantastic countryside charity CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire has mapped and listed them all in a smartphone app, that should keep you busy for a while. Android download | Apple Download - download is free but please consider donating to the CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire to help them continue with their fantastic conservation work.
Yes almost anyone from Derbyshire or Yorkshire will proudly regale you with the tale of the legendary Dambusters who used Derwent Water as one of their training grounds for Operation Chastise or commonly known as the Dambusters Raid. Carried out on the night of 16th/17th May 1943 by 617 Squadron RAF Bomber Command, later called the Dam Busters, using special "bouncing bombs" attacked a number of German Dams in a strategic hit on German infrastructure.
In 1955 the mission was immortalised in the epic war film - The Dam Busters and the Upper Derwent Valley doubled as the Ruhr valley for the film.
Today this beautiful part of the Peak District is one of the most scenic and awe-inspiring places in the UK. In the summer months if water levels are low, you can see the remains of Ashopton and Derwent villages that were flooded in 1946.
Ladybower is the lowest of the 3 reservoirs, Derwent and Howden complete the three. It gets very busy in the summer but head there early and you can guarantee a parking spot and some epic sightseeing. Head out onto the hills towards Back Tor and Lost Lad, for incredible views, picnic on Derwent Edge where on a clear day you can see across to Kinder Scout, and Sheffield.
The Peak District is not necessarily well known for its dark skies, the bustling market towns, and proximity to Manchester, Sheffield and Derby might lead stargazers to think the night skies here might not be the best, but you will be surprised that off the beaten track in Derbyshire Dales, you will find 3 superb sites for stargazing:
Here are 3 dark sky sites with easy access:
Of course, you can also book a stay in one of our more rural venues and you will be able to gaze at the night sky to your heart's content.
Travelling with the kids and looking for family things to do in the Peak District might sound like a chore, but one of the best places to take the clan is to Little Switzerland...OK not actually in Switzerland...rather Matlock Bath, but it does have a distinctly Alpine feel to it.
We haven't made this nickname up, it was poet Lord Byron who compared it to Switzerland after a visit and the nickname has stuck, even Mary Shelley mentioned it in her novel Frankenstein. In 1842 and 1844 Queen Victoria gave the town a royal seal of approval when she visited and ascended the Heights of Abraham, on a donkey no less!
You can visit this royal-approved town and take in its beauty all year round. Explore the history and head up to the Giddy Edge (you need a head for heights as the name suggests) but this will give you a bird's eye view of the alpine-like vista that surrounds this pretty town. We also recommend a trip to the Heights of Abraham too, albeit you will be in a cable car - not on a donkey.
Step back in time at The National Tramway Museum, located at Crich Tramway Village, Derbyshire. With over 60 trams built between 1873 and 1982 and set within a recreated period village including a working pub, café, old-style sweet shop and tram depots.
It makes a great day out for all. Closed for winter maintenance but open again Saturday 11th March. Enjoy the stunning location and views over the Peak District and ride the old trams, grab a bite to eat and a beverage, and immerse yourself in this period town.
Hop aboard Peak Rail and experience the magic of steam and experience a great day out with all the family. You can even enjoy some luxury dining, including Sunday lunches, Christmas lunches and afternoon teas. With a host of various events happening throughout the year including Peak Rail Santa and Steam Specials, there is something for everyone, and also Kids go Free Days!
Visit The Churnet Valley railway and choose from a morning breakfast on a train, a 2-course dining experience on selected Tuesdays and Wednesdays, a Staffordshire Cream tea and ride The Magical Polar Express ride during the festive period, a great adventure for the kids and one they won't forget!
Enjoy a long railway journey on the Ecclesbourne Valley and catch a glimpse of the stunning Peak District countryside while enjoying a dining experience from delicious Sunday lunches to afternoon teas and ploughman's lunches. Great for a group booking or special occasion.
Take to the trees and monkey around with a visit to Go Ape where you can climb, swing, walk on the high ropes and zip wire to your heart's content. With a visitor centre, food and drink available and dogs allowed it makes a great day out for the whole family and great for a team-bonding corporate event!
Located next to Pooles Cavern where you can take part in some ground level outdoor activities including heading into Pooles Cavern, woodland walks in Buxton Country Park, roam through Grinlow Woods and head up to Solomons Temple for scenic views of Buxton.
It's not a visit to the Peak District until you’ve explored the beautiful town of Bakewell and of course tried the original Bakewell Pudding from the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop. You will need a whole day and more to explore this popular historic town. Start at Bakewell Old Museum to learn some fascinating historical facts about the town, a walk along the River Wye (with fish and chips) is a must, and there is a market selling local produce every Monday.
Of course, you can just spend your time perusing the fabulous array of local and independent shops or frequenting the great pubs and restaurants all serving delicious food. There are plenty of annual events including Bakewell Carnival Week and the traditional Well Dressing in July and many festive events in the winter months, not to mention the pretty Christmas lights that line the town.
You are definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a pub in the Peak District, and we probably have some of the best beer gardens in the country offering spectacular views. One such pub you should definitely try is the Royal Oak at Hurdlow, a charming country pub with amazing views over Hurdlow, offering a warm and friendly welcome with a cosy pub atmosphere and fantastic food.
Revel in some history with a visit to The Church Inn in Chelmorton, with a unique feel of a real traditional English pub, serving some great local specialities on the menu. While you’re there pop over and visit St Johns Church in the village, which has the highest church spire anywhere in England at 1200 feet above sea level.
Nestled in the heart of one of the prettiest villages in the Peak District is The Pack Horse in Little Longstone. Serving fresh, seasonal food using the best local ingredients and hand-pulled local ales which can be enjoyed either on the front sun trap or in the bar by the roaring fire.
Life is better with a bit of ice cream and where best to visit than Tagg Lane Dairy near Monyash, Bakewell. With a selection of luxury flavours, hand crafted with the finest, all natural ingredients and patiently churned a little bit longer for a result of simply ‘heavenly ice cream’.
You can also purchase some of their organic free-range Jersey milk from their happy cows and browse the farm shop with a selection of milkshakes, home-made farmhouse cakes and a coffee bar. This place gets busy in summer but we recommend popping in as soon as they open and grab yourself a coffee with your ice cream breakfast!
Channel your inner Austen with a visit to Chatsworth House in Bakewell. It's believed that Jane Austen may have based her idea of Pemberley on Chatsworth House and written the novel while in Bakewell, which is also her inspiration for the village of Lambton.
The famous Eyre Family of Derbyshire left a legacy in the Peak District with Moorseats Hall being the inspiration for Thornfield Hall, Mr Rochester's house in Charlotte Bronte's famous novel, Jane Eyre, where she stayed as a guest. Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen also filmed Pride and Prejudice in the beautiful landscape, and Robin Hood's right-hand man Little John is buried in the village of Hathersage, along with the Eyre family.
On the River Wye in Bakewell you will find Haddon Hall. Re-opening Spring 23, with 900 years of history, brimming with stories, beautiful tapestry collections, early English furniture and stunning Elizabethan walled gardens and an on site restaurant located in the 17th Century stable block with views of the hall and the river. Check out their seasonal events and workshops which include guided parkland walks and the Gatehouse Artisan Pop-up showcasing the work of some wonderful artisans and makers who participate in the Mercatum market events.
Thornbridge Hall is a Grade II* listed stately home set amongst the rolling hills of the Peak District within 100 acres of impressive parkland and is home to Jim and Emma Harrison. There's plenty to do at Thornbridge Hall from strolls around the formal gardens, an informative tour of the Hall and you can even grab a light lunch at the Quackers Café or takeaway and enjoy in the gardens.
Enjoy a night at the Opera at Buxton Opera House. First opened on 1st June 1903 and lovingly restored to its former glory in 2001, Buxton Opera House is an exquisitely beautiful Edwardian theatre. With many fabulous shows to see throughout the year, the Pavilion Arts Centre and beautiful Gardens and many other attractions you'll need a few days away in Buxton to fit everything in.
Buxton Opera House hosts a wealth of shows and events, including world class comedians, musicals, dance, drama, talks, opera and a festive panto. With cinema screening in the arts centre next door, it's an excellent spot for an evening of entertainment.
Make a night of it and book yourselves into the fantastic Santiago just across the road from the Opera House. Enjoy their incredible tapas, bar and deli for pre theatre dinner and drinks.
A great way to get around the Peak District and explore its natural beauty is on a bike!
With many cycling trails around and cycling hire shops, it is a great family friendly activity to do in the Peak District. Of course, you can bring along your own 2 wheels and many of our Peak Venue properties offer cycling facilities such as storage and washing facilities.
Our top tip for all cyclists regardless of age and ability is to head to one of the Peak Districts' famous cycle trails. The Tissington and High Peak Trails meet at Parsley Hay, where you can hire your bike at Parsley Hay Bike Hire and cycle all the way to Ashbourne or Cromford.
The Monsal Trail, which takes you across the famous headstone viaduct and the quieter Manifold Trail are also great traffic free cycling routes for all the family.
Enjoy the thrill of a chase? Then Hunted in the Peaks is an activity for you! For groups of 12 or more, it’s a real adrenaline challenge, combining the adventure of a bespoke treasure hunt and the excitement of being hunted. Finding treasures and evading capture is the aim of the game and will win you and your team valuable points. It's a great experience to try and you'll also get to see the stunning surroundings of the Peak District, getting up close and personal with nature!
Climbing is a very popular activity to do in the Peak District, not surprising with all its varied rock formations and landscape. There are some challenging routes to tackle for the more experienced climbers such as Stanage Edge and Curbar Edge, as well as some great locations for beginners and children to enjoy including Burbage South boulders.
There was once a time when every village had a ‘smithy’ with blacksmithing skills carried on through generations. Today the demand is slightly decreasing unfortunately but there are still many talented skilled people in this area of specialism.
The Peak District is a prime example of this and some small local blacksmithing industries in the Peak District offer experience days, where you can learn this ancient tradition, while still having loads of fun and of course creating a masterpiece to take home. Peak Blacksmithing and Mountain King Forge are great places to spend the day crafting and learning a new skill that keeps traditions going here in the Peak District.
For all you thrill seekers out there, a day abseiling is one to be enjoyed by all and there’s no better place to do this other than in the Peak District. The area's most spectacular site being abseiling off the viaduct bridge at Millers Dale, over the River Wye.
For planning the perfect abseiling day in the Peak District there are some companies we recommend, Peak Outdoor Training have a wealth of experienced instructors to plan a great day of adventure for you. Dolomite Training also with lots of experience can provide you with many outdoor pursuits in the area with the option of abseiling off Millers Dale Bridge.
Peaks and Paddles offer a secondary abseiling site at Black Rocks near Cromford, and for those of you that want even more excitement, they do abseiling in the dark too!
One way to get the best view of the Peak Districts natural beauty is to be up high and experience the adrenalin of gliding. With many flying sites in the Peak District to choose from, you can book a tandem flight and enjoy the scenery and the sensation over one of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK. Peak Airsports offer taster courses for those wanting to try paragliding and does involve a lot of training and learning.
A popular gliding centre is Great Hucklow, Camphill Farm, offering beginners courses or if you're already a glider pilot and just want a day out exploring the location of the Peak District. The Great British Gliding Association can take you to the skys in a two-seater glider and enjoy an exhilarating experience no matter what your age, physical ability or background. There’s also The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association which is a country-wide network of recreational clubs and registered schools.
Of course if you want to just watch the action then Mam Tor, which overlooks Castleton is a major local centre for hang gliders and paragliding so you can watch the action while admiring the stunning views.
Get your culinary head on and enjoy a cookery class with the famous Stella of Stella’s Kitchen, who cooks delicious Afro-Caribbean food in the surroundings of her own farmhouse restaurant in Eyam. You’re guaranteed a fun, knowledgeable experience for sure! She also offers a bespoke, mobile catering service to suit your individual needs and budget, which you can either enjoy at her restaurant or takeaway, and they can even deliver to your Peak Venues property for you to enjoy.
Try an old tradition of glass making in the picturesque setting of the Peak District. There’s a few glass making workshops to choose from offering demonstrations, and you can even have a go at making your very own glass piece. Stevie Davies in Wirksworth is a contemporary glass artist and tutor and has her own gallery. She loves teaching others to design and create with her workshops and make at home kits.
From foraging to fine dining, you can experience both in the Peak District, and there’s no better place for foraging than in the woodlands of the Peak District. Wild Food UK have some great foraging courses and Sauced Here offer guided mushroom foraging tours for individuals or groups.
Or you could head over to the award-winning Baslow Hall for a fun, foraging lunch at Fischer's, with a morning of foraging in the Peak District wild spaces and then a 3 course lunch prepared by Fischer's head chef Adam Thackery and hosted by the foraging team with a menu inspired by your day.
It's definitely worth a trip out to visit Derbyshire's famous working windmill. Heage Windmill is definitely one of the more unusual places to visit in the Peak District but it's a great choice with its spectacular views towards the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. This working windmill is a Grade II* listed building and is a major attraction in Derbyshire. (Fully opening April 1st 2023).
You can book a guided tour and learn all about the windmill and how stoneground flour is traditionally milled or pop along for one of the many events that take place here throughout the year including classic car and bikes days.
You might be 100 miles away from the sea, but the Peak District has some of the most spectacular reservoirs, small lakes and waterfalls to see and most of which you can swim in.
Who needs sand in between their toes? When you can discover the hidden water gems and stunning scenery in the Peak District, from Mermaid's Pool, Carsington Water and Lumsdale Waterfall. With watersports to enjoy too, there’s something for all the family.
Published on January 31, 2023 in Inspiration