Did you know England has some really great hikes? Here we’ll tell you all about the best hikes in the Peak District, one of the best hiking destinations in the country.
This guest post is brought to you by Rachel and Nico of AverageLives, a couple of outdoor enthusiasts, road trippers and affordable travel lovers!
An Insider’s Guide to the Best Hikes in the Peak District
When it comes to the best hikes in the Peak District, this list will have you covered. It doesn’t matter if you want an easy-low elevation hike or you’re a keen hiker looking for a challenge, it’s certain that there’s a hike for everyone.
As Britain’s oldest national park and with 80% of the UK population living within 4 hours drive, there’s no wonder that it sees over 10 million visitors every year. Every hike in the Peak District is unique because the area is spoiled with incredible views, unique flora, rare rock formations and charming English villages.
It’s useful to know that the Peak District is divided into two main areas. They are known as the Dark Peaks and the White Peaks, and it’s recommended that you visit both of these areas on your hiking trip.
The Dark Peaks in the north are wilder with immense open moorland, whereas the White Peaks in the south is where you will discover the bucolic forests and picturesque towns and villages.
By now, you probably don’t need much convincing, so get your map, compass and walking shoes ready for the best hikes in the Peak District. We’ll start with the more family friendly, easier hikes, and then move on to moderate and more challenging options for experienced hikers!
Best Hikes in the Peak District / Easier
1) Mam Tor
Total Hiking Time: 1-2hr
Elevation Gain: 200m
Trail Distance: 4.5km
Mam Tor is located in the south of the Dark Peaks and on the hill you can see late Bronze Age and early Iron Age settlements.
Steeped in ancient history, this is a hike that’s perfect for a family day out or a walk with friends, as you don’t have to be an experienced hiker to do it. It is steep but short and sweet. You will see one of the Peak District’s most famous views and it is a circular trail.
Local Tip: continue learning about history and discover Peveril Castle (built in 1086) after your hike. It’s also very close to Winnats Pass, which is a winding road through a steep valley and definitely worth the drive through to Castleton nearby.
2) Crowden – Walk around Rhodeswood Reservoir
Total Hiking Time: 2h 45m
Elevation Gain: 251m
Trail Distance: 8.5km
Walking around the Rhodeswood Reservoir is an easy, short waterside walk which is perfect for a Sunday activity with free parking at Crowden Car Park. The hike goes through different stages, but it is definitely accessible for everybody.
You will walk through moors and fields, and the paths are marked well. What’s more, the view of the canyon is stunning and you can admire the river flowing through it.
Local Tip: the walk can include the remains of the B29 overexposed crash if you follow the walk 2621.
3) Padley Gorge
Total Hiking Time: 2hr
Elevation Gain: 196 m
Trail Distance: 6 km
Starting from the stunning Longshaw estate, the family friendly walk to Padley Gorge is accessible all year round. Head through the Burbage Valley to the charming Grindleford village, and complete the circuit by walking back through the peaceful Yarncliffe Wood.
Local Tip: visit in May to see the bluebells in Yarncliffe Wood! Also, there is the wonderful Longshaw Temp Cabin, a perfect spot for a coffee and cake.
4) Dovestones and Yeoman Reservoir
Total Hiking Time: 1.5-2.5 hr
Elevation Gain: 210m
Trail Distance: 6.5km
These two flat reservoirs are located at the north-west end of the Peaks and offer great walks for outdoor-lovers and beginner hikers. As the hike is easy, well-signed out and accessible for wheelchairs, it is a very popular spot for families and people of every age.
Alternatively, it is possible just to walk the loop of the Dovestones Reservoir following the 2.5 km path, if you wanted to make the walk shorter.
Local Tip: this route is popular with dog walkers, so why not bring your furry friend along?
5) Ladybower Reservoir
Total Hiking Time: 1-2hr
Elevation Gain: 204m
Trail Distance: 8km
There are plenty of wonderful countryside hikes you can do from Ladybower, but the most popular is the walk around Ladybower Reservoir in the Upper Derwent Valley.
The reservoir was officially opened by King George VI in September 1945 and is surrounded by stunning woodland and moorland. The hike is flat and passes through Derwent Dam, which is one of the highlights of the Peaks.
Local Tip: head to the Ladybower Inn to have lunch in an 18th century, stone built pub. They also have rooms available if you wanted to stay in the area.
Best Hikes in the Peak District / Moderate
6) Thor’s Cave and Manifold Valley
Total Hiking Time: 2-3hr
Elevation Gain: 300m
Trail Distance: 9 km
This walk combo goes straight into the Instagram famous Thor’s Cave, named after the Norse god. The path will also bring you to the stunning Manifold valley.
The walk is moderate and accessible for everybody, but a bit of experience is recommended because the terrain can be slippery and uneven. This circular walk starts and ends in the little village of Wetton. You’ll know you are half way round when you encounter Wetton Mill.
Local Tip: Stop at the Royal Oak for a drink in Wetton and you’ll be welcomed with a friendly atmosphere.
7) Stanage Edge
Total Hiking Time: 3-4h
Elevation Gain: 515m
Trail Distance: 9.8km
Calling all Charlotte Bronte fans because this landscape was the inspiration behind many of her classics. For example, you will go past North Lees Hall which was the real life Thornfield Manor in Jane Eyre. Start your circuit at Hathersage village car park and ascend to the top.
Look out for adrenaline seekers, who will be bouldering on the rocks. Stanage Edge is a popular walking destination but is also popular with history lovers who visit to see the remains of a Roman road.
Local Tip: Stop in the charming village of Hathersage, eat at Coleman’s deli, and head to the Church to see the resting place of Little John (Robin Hood’s companion)!
8) Birchen Edge and Chatsworth House
Total Hiking Time: 3-4hr
Elevation Gain: 279m
Trail Distance: 11km
This is a picturesque walk, leaving from Beeley village walking towards Beeley Hilltop Farm. You will walk across Birchen Edge towards Chatsworth House.
Undeniably, this part will be one of the most memorable parts of the walk. Known as the ‘Palace of the Peak’ it is one of England’s most famous and popular stately homes. Here you can decide to make a stop, tour the house, or have an ice cream or a cup of tea in the cafe. After, you can pass through the park, admiring the house and the deer before returning to Beeley village.
Local Tip: Head to the Old Smithy in Beeley for a tasty breakfast before your walk. The staff are helpful and friendly and the coffee is good too.
9) Curbar Edge Walk with Froggatt and Baslow Edge
Total Hiking Time: 4-5hr
Elevation Gain: 470m
Trail Distance: 12km
If you want the best of the Peak District, then this circular route is for you. Offering incredible views of the Derwent Valley, you’ll encounter moorland trails, woodland paths combined with the quaint villages of Curbar, Calver, Froggatt and Grindleford. If you’re a climber, there are over 200 rock-climbing routes on Curbar Edge to try out too.
Local Tip: stop in the stone built village of Calver at the halfway point to admire the small village charm and the 18th century bridge. Try the Eating House Calver for an all day breakfast or an afternoon tea!
Best Hikes in the Peak District / Challenging
10) Kinder Scout
Total Hiking Time: 4-5h
Elevation Gain: 625m
Trail Distance: 14.5km
Expect striking edges, peat and boggy trails from the highest point in the Peak District!
Kinder Scout is arguably the most physically challenging walk you can do in the Peak District due to its rough terrain. Undeniably, it is one of the most popular places to hike in England.
This is also an important place, as in 1932 there was a peaceful protest, which led to the once privatised land of the Peak District to become the country’s first national park.
Local Tip: the Kinder Plateau is the area you need to be mindful of, so make sure you bring a compass, wear layers and appropriate footwear if you are going to take on the challenge.
Total Hiking Time: 5-7h
Elevation Gain: 588m
Trail Distance: 19.5km
Alfred Wainwright describes Bleaklow in his Pennine Way Companion as “inhospitable wilderness”. However, what is inhospitable for the men sometimes is the perfect environment for nature and its flora and fauna to flourish.
The walk is long and it is important to pick a good day to do it. For example, when the days are long and light. The path is varied and passes along the Torside and the Woodhead reservoirs.
Before going up to the Pennine Way and crossing the B29 airplane crash site, continue down the Pennine way to reach Torside where this circular walk starts and ends.
Hiking in the Peak District FAQ
Where is the Peak District?
The Peak District National Park spans over 555 square miles and is located at the southern end of the Pennines in England. Interestingly, the national park is located within 5 English counties – Greater Manchester, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire.
How to get to the Peak District?
There are several ways you can access the best hikes in the Peak District. It is well connected by road, train and bus.
By car: luckily it is well connected to the main UK motorways and you can access the park by the M1 and M6 whether you are going from the north or south.
By train: for somewhere so vast, the train network is excellent, which means that you do not need to have a car to experience some of the best hikes in the Peak District.
For example, the Hope Valley Line stops at Grindleford, Hathersage, Bamford, Hope and Edale and leaves from both Manchester and Sheffield. Alternatively, you can access DoveStones from either the Greenfield or Marsden stops and this train leaves from Manchester.
By bus and coach: to reach the park, you can hop on the National Express service, which leaves from every major UK city, including London. What’s more, when you are in the national park there is a broad local bus service that connects the region.
Therefore, although it would be easier and more convenient by car, you do not have to have one to visit this area of natural beauty.
When is the best time to go hiking in the Peak District?
The Peak District can be visited at any time of the year but as we know, the British weather is unpredictable. However, you should not let the weather stop you from visiting this beautiful national park.
Arguably the best time to visit is the Heather season, which runs from the end of August to the beginning of September. These 3 weeks see many of the moors erupt into purple and pink and the sight is breathtaking. The weather is ideal conditions for hiking, with the last of the summer light and mild temperatures.
Where to stay for the best hikes in the Peak District:
Of course, there are many places you can stay in the Peak District. You can opt to stay in a small town such as Bakewell, Edale, Buxton or Hathersage. Or you could combine your hike with a city break in either Manchester or Sheffield, as they are the nearest big cities, under an hour away.