When I used to think of holidays to the Peak District I’d imagine athletic, outdoorsy types taking on mammoth hikes in an unforgiving landscape. After joining my family in Tideswell, Derbyshire for a relaxing week in a picture perfect holiday cottage however, I realised that there’s plenty to do in this beautiful part of the country whether you want to be active or not.
Here’s a round up of my favourite 5 things to do in the Peak District as discovered on my holiday – no hiking boots or climbing gear required!
5 Things To Do In The Peak District
1. Chatsworth House and Gardens, Bakewell
I’ve visited my fair share of stately homes but this one takes top prize for its picturesque grandeur and the sheer amount of fun things to do, no matter what age you are! There’s a whopping 35 acres of grounds to explore, so as it was sunny we opted to purchase a ticket to the garden and farmyard rather than go inside the house.
If you don’t mind a bit of exercise then make your way up the steep grass slope so that you can watch the water flowing down the gravity-fed Emperor Fountain – it’s very relaxing.
Or if you’re completely bonkers you can enjoy a paddle in the water…not so relaxing but the yelps of delight told me that people were having great fun!
My nephews had lots of fun in the farmyard, especially at the guinea pig petting pen.
…whilst I couldn’t help going gooey over all the baby animals.
After a fun morning with the family the fella and I went off for our own little explore of the grounds. We found a secret waterfall, got lost in a huge maze and much to my delight even found a giant shoe sculpture!
The champagne van had closed for the day much to my disappointment but an icy treat enjoyed on the lawn made up for it.
…we even spotted a newly married bride and groom having their wedding photos taken! Can you imagine how dreamy the photos must have been?
2. Derwent Reservoir, Upper Derwent
This is a great place to go if you want to stretch your legs, get a bit of fresh air and take in the gorgeous Peak District scenery.
Little Aidan had great fun walking up the stone steps one at a time to get to the top of the dam…
…my sister and brother in law dragging a pram were not quite so enthusiastic but we made it all the way up and the view of the surrounding valley, moors and forest was worth the effort.
During the second world war 617 Squadron Pilots used this spot to practice the low flying needed for when they went across to Germany to complete the Dam Busters raids, so it played an important place in our history.
You can walk all around the reservoir and the path is wide with benches strewn along the way, so it’s perfect for picnics.
Website: Derwent Reservoir, Upper Derwent
3. Monsal Trail, (Chee Dale to Bakewell)
Call us crazy but we decided to take our bikes on holiday and have a crack at the Monsal Trail, a traffic free cycling, horse riding and walking route (suitable for wheelchairs) running along an old railway line.
I’m a very nervous cyclist and I got rather panicky in the long, dark, tunnels that were dotted along the route – they were pretty creepy let me tell you!
However the views across the valleys were breaktaking and I felt a real sense of achievement when I completed the 17 mile round trip.
…plus I managed to stay true to self and do it all in a dress – hurrah!
Website: Monsal Trail
4. Blue John Cavern, Castleton
After a week of unexpectedly glorious sunshine, it started hailing on our last day so we escaped underground!The Blue-John stone is only found in the caverns in Castleton and you can take a guided tour to learn all about it. The tour lasts an hour and reminded me of a school trip, but I’m a geek and I love learning so it was a good way to pass an hour on a wet and windy day.
As a word of caution, if you’re not great with heights or can get claustrophobic then this one might not be for you… the steps are steep and can get very slippery and you end up very deep below ground by the end.
5. Fine Dining at The Merchants Yard
On our last evening we treated ourselves to a meal at The Merchants Yard, a cosy and atmospheric courtyard restaurant in the heart of Tideswell village. It was an expensive treat but the food was locally sourced, lovingly presented and tasted wonderful and they had a good choice of cocktails and wine too, so it was a fitting way to toast the end of a brilliant week in the peaks. Highly recommended.
So that’s my top 5 things to do in the Peak District – have you visited any of them? Or do you have a suggestion for where I should visit on my next trip?
A little note: My lovely parents paid for the holiday cottage and generously invited all the family along to enjoy it with them! Thanks mum and dad 🙂