Epic walks in the Peak District

Explore the Peak District's best circular walks

As Britain's first national park, the Peak District is one of the UK's greatest treasures and a international mecca for hikers. Covering an area of 1438sqkm and spread across five counties in the Heart of England, it boasts more than 2500km of public footpaths, over 100km of which are accessible. Hilly, rather than mountainous, the Peak District is characterised by moorland, limestone dales, gritstone edge, dramatic caverns and bendy rivers, as well as traditional stone villages, charming market towns and stately homes.

  1. Kinder Scout Circular Walk
  2. Dovedale Walk
  3. Mam Tor Circular Loop
  4. Youlgreave via Lathkill Dale Circular Walk
  5. Padley Gorge Walk
  6. Ladybower Reservoir

The ideal base for a walking holiday, many Peak District best walks are well-established and excellently sign-posted, with amenities and car parks found at the trail-heads. Whether you're looking for Peak District dog walks, an easy walk for the family or perhaps more of a challenge, we've rounded up the best six Peak District trails.

1. Kinder Scout Circular Walk

Considered to be both one of the most demanding and most rewarding of the Peak District's established walks, the classic Kinder Scout trail is a 14.5km circular route that starts and ends at Edale. Kinder Scout is the highest peak in the park, with its summit some 636m above sea level.The walk starts at the Old Nags Head, at the same starting point as the Pennine Way, the most famous long-distance walk in the UK. It's not long before you start the 3km ascent to the summit of Kinder Scout and walk the trail along its plateau. This walk takes in the Kinder Downfall waterfall and the famed Jacob's Ladder steps, before rejoining the Pennine Way and finishing back in Edale.

Best walk for: experienced hikers

Duration: 4-5 hours

2. Dovedale Walk

There are numerous walks in and around the Dovedale Valley, but the most popular is the 11km circular trail that starts at Ilam. The first half of the trail follows the path of the River Dove, passing natural limestone features such as Tissington Spires, Lovers Leap and Doves Holes. This walk requires some endurance in the hillier second half, but this is more than worth it when you reach the peak of Bailey Hill, considered by many to be the best view in Peak District.

Best walk for: breathtaking views

Duration: 3-4 hours

3. Mam Tor Circular Loop

Mam Tor, literally 'Mother Hill', is so-named because of the series of baby-hills that gather at its base. The most popular and family-friendly Mam Tor trail starts and ends at the Mam Tor National Trust Car Park. You'll reach the summit of within the first 1km and then continue along the remainder of 4.5km loop, taking in amazing natural features such as the Blue John Cavern. Top views along the way include Winnats Pass Gorge, Edale Vale and Peveril Castle. Mam Tor itself boasts not one, but two Bronze Age burial sites, hidden beneath its base and summit. One of the best Peak District circular walks, it's a pleasant, easy trail and a must for those staying in and around the High Peak region of the park.

Best walk for: those looking for a short but scenic dog walk

Duration: 1-2 hours

4. Youlgreave via Lathkill Dale Circular Walk

The pretty town of Youlgreave in the southeast of the Peak District is surrounded by a series of excellent paths and trails, the most popular however is the Youlgreave via Lathkill Dale Circular Walk. This 12km loop starts and ends in Youlgreave itself, allowing you to take in some of the village's fascinating landmarks such as The Fountain.The walk offers views of both the White and Dark Peak regions of the park, starting with a meander along the pretty River Bradford, before walking across open grassland and reaching the Lathkill River, a more dramatic body of water complete with limestone gorges. The walk ends back in Youlgreave where a choice of two historic pubs offer a well-earned reward.

Best for: those looking for a long walk with a pint at the end

Duration: 3-4 hours

5. Padley Gorge Walk

A popular circular walk starting and ending at the Longshaw Estate, in the north east of the Peak District. This 6km walk is a family-friendly option that takes in the 'babbling' Burbage Brook and the falls of Padley Gorge, before arriving in the charming village of Grindleford and circling back to Longshaw through the magical Yarncliffe Wood. Frequently touted as the Peak District Best Walk, it's not the most secluded of walks in the national park, but it's easy to reach from Sheffield and it does allow for a cake and coffee stop in Grindleward.

Best for: families

Duration: 1.5-2 hours

6. Ladybower Reservoir

There are 20 official 'Miles without Stiles' Peak District walks, all suitable for buggies, wheelchairs and those with limited mobility. These Peak District easy walks have limited gradients, flat terrain and are both step and stile-free. One of the most beautiful options is the Ladybower Reservoir walk, which offers a choice of 400m, 1km or 1.5km options. Starting at Heatherdene Car Park, the longest option takes in views of the reservoir, the dam and Ladybower Wood, a rare example of upland oakwood.

Best for: accessibility and options for everybody

Duration: 0.5-1 hour

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