At the southern end of the Pennines, the Peak District National Park covers over 500 square miles of moorland and rock, it’s highest point being Kinder Scout. The area has springs and caverns, historical market towns and charming villages, and a multitude of things to see and do. There’s plenty self-catering accommodation in the form of holiday cottages, giving you the right kind of freedom to explore the area and shape your break.
Deep, Deep Down
Despite the area being known as the Peak District, there’s a lot to see and experience under the ground. At Poole’s Cavern and Country Park you can take a guided tour through vast limestone caverns and see underground chambers lined with crystal-formed stalactites and stalagmites. This natural limestone cave is two million years old and stretches underground for some 1,000ft.
The Heights of Abraham is another popular, underground destination. This spectacular network of caverns goes deep down, penetrating the surrounding hillside. It was the site of lead mining, from Roman times to the 17th century and has now become the site of a fascinating guided tour, enhanced with state-of-the-art lighting. Above ground, you’ll find a breathtaking cable car ride, 500ft up, which gives you spectacular views of the Derwent Valley below.
The Hope Valley is also home to three caverns open to visitors: Treak Cliff Cavern, Peak Cavern and Speedwell Cavern.
Matlock Bath – Little Switzerland
Close by to the Heights of Abraham is the spa village of Matlock Bath, developed from an historical village site after the discovery of warm springs in 1698. Its reputation grew and when Lord Byron visited it he compared it with alpine Switzerland, leading to its Little Switzerland nickname.
Its location is stunning, dramatically situated in a deep gorge of the Derwent Valley. It is still served by a local railway line that is an attraction in itself. The overall impression Matlock Bath gives is of a characterful seaside resort, but without the sea, obviously.
You can enjoy fine views of the River Derwent from the narrow, iron Jubilee Bridge, built in 1897, which spans the river and was lovingly restored to its original state in 2014.
In the village there are plenty of places to eat and drink, as well as the nearby Matlock Bath Aquarium and the Peak District Lead Mining Museum.
Ideal for Walking
The Peak District is one of the UK’s most popular walking destinations, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of space for you to enjoy the freedom of the countryside without bumping into lots of other visitors.
There’s plenty of choice in how you might want to go about it: 500 square miles of access land, which means you don’t have to keep to public footpaths; high moorland treks; and more tranquil, riverside routes.
You can go for adventurous, long distance trail walks, such as the Limestone Way, or take a guided walk with an experienced tour-guide through some of the Peak District’s most stunning scenery.