Peak District attractions

Top Peak District sights

Threaded with pure rivers and dotted with idyllic villages and some splendid stately homes, the Peaks are a walker’s paradise.

  1. Begin your tour of the Peaks in Matlock
  2. Enjoy spectacular views
  3. Discover Matlock Bath
  4. Discover the delights of Cromford
  5. Visit the magnificent Chatsworth House
  6. Head to Bakewell
  7. Discover Buxton
  8. Enjoy reservoir views

The Peak District is a region of outstanding beauty lying at the southern end of the Pennines, which form the “backbone” of England. There’s so much to see in the Peak District - here we give you a flavour of what is on offer.

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. Begin your tour of the Peaks in Matlock

Begin in Matlock, in the southern Peaks. The largest town and the administrative centre of the district, modern Matlock is one of the top Peak District attractions. Riber Castle, overlooks the town from its commanding hilltop to the south. Derwent Gorge is a clobsey where high limestone crags crowd in. The biggest of the lot, the 300ft (90-metre) High Tor appears, almost overhanging the road, with rock-climbers clinging to the rock face like flies on a wall.

Best for: Rock climbers

While you’re there: For more outdoor fun, don’t forget to head to Castleton. It’s home to some famous caves.

2. Enjoy spectacular views

Just beyond High Tor, the swinging gondolas of the Heights of Abraham Cable Cars can be seen. They encompass the Rutland and great Masson Caverns, former lead mines that now provide exciting underground tours, picnic sites and nature trails up to the Victoria Prospect Tower, built in 1844. There are also stupendous views across the gorge. Looking for National Park holidays? Book ahead in summer as it gets popular.

Best for: Views

While you’re there: The Vista Restaurant at the top is a memorable dining experience with views of the Derwent Valley.

3. Discover Matlock Bath

Matlock Bath became popular as a holiday spot in Victorian times when the railways arrived. Today, it is well known as a weekend destination for motorbikes and for its illuminations over the Lovers’ Walks along the Derwent from early September to early October. Among its modern attractions is the Peak District Mining Museum in the Pavilion - a fascinating introduction to the world of the lead miner, with tunnels through which children can crawl. You’ll also find Gulliver’s Theme Park which is set high on a hillside above Matlock Bath and has river rides and a mine train.

Best for: Family fun

While you’re there: If you’re looking for a fantastic stately home head to Lyme Park.

4. Discover the delights of Cromford

Arkwright’s Cromford Mill, a World Heritage Site, is clearly signposted. Tours around the village are arranged from the Arkwright Mill. Workers’ cottages in North Street, completed in 1776, show how Arkwright wanted his workers to live. Here there’s a picnic site and access to the High Peak Trail, a route that follows the line of the former Cromford and High Peak Railway. It’s perfect for walkers and cyclists.

Best for: A World Heritage Site

While you’re there: Wirksworth is closeby which is home to the National Stone Centre. It offers treasure trails and audiovisual shows.

5. Visit the magnificent Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House is number one for Peak District tourist attractions. Home of the Dukes of Devonshire for some 400 years, and known as “the Palace of the Peaks”, this is one of the finest houses in England, and contains one of the most important private art collections in the country.

Best for: Grand house

While you’re there: Highlights of the house include the Painted Hall by Louis Laguerre, which shows scenes from the life of Julius Caesar.

6. Head to Bakewell

Head to Bakewell for a splendid part of the area and one of the most impressive Peak District sightseeing opportunities. Its history goes back to the Saxons, as a visit to the parish church of All Saints will reveal. Although heavily restored in Victorian times, this cruciform church still has fragments of Saxon and Norman work, and two of the finest Saxon preaching crosses in the Peak District are situated in the churchyard. Just behind the church is the Old House Museum, one of the finest local museums in the country.

Best for: Historic town

While you’re there: Don’t forget to try a Bakewell pudding - when in Rome after all!

7. Discover Buxton

Head to Buxton and start by admiring its elegant Corinthian-style buildings. Head to the original Thermal Baths which now house the Cavendish Shopping Arcade, but have retained an original plunge pool, complete with bosun’s chair-type seat, showing how some patients were encouraged to “take the waters”.

Best for: An essential stop in the Peak District

While you’re there: Buxton has a thriving market on Saturday, and a smaller one that takes place on Tuesday.

8. Enjoy reservoir views

Whaley Bridge is a pleasant little town where colourful canal boats are moored in the canal basin. From here you can follow a minor and at times extremely steep road to the Goyt Valley, where there is good rock-climbing for the intrepid and, for the rest, fine views over the Fernilee and Errwood reservoirs. There’s also a forest trail to what is left of Errwood Hall, demolished when the valley was flooded to provide water for Stockport.

Best for: Views

While you’re there: If you’re looking for more reservoirs, head to Upper Derwent Valley.

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