I visited the Peak District for the first time a couple of years ago. We went to visit Chris's aunty and uncle who live in a lovely country house in the Hope Valley. Since then I have fallen totally in love with it, we both have! So much so we have decided to get married there next year in a lovely little village called Edale. It is so beautiful yet doesn't attract the crowds that the Lake District does.
A few weeks ago we spent a week there so I thought I'd share a few things to do in the area. We have only ever stayed in Hope and Edale in the Hope Valley so there is probably another whole side of the peaks that we haven't seen, but these are just a few things we have done and enjoyed...
Ladybower reservoir: You can walk or cycle around this beautiful reservoir. There are several car parks and a number of different walks that you can do.
Chatsworth House: I'm not a huge fan of big old houses, I get a bit bored, but this really is stunning. Peaky Blinders and Pride and Prejudice were both filmed here. The grounds are amazing, there is a lot of impressive art and they have their own really good farm shop selling produce from the estate including ales from their own brewery.
Mam Tor: If you want something not too strenuous, you can drive up the impressive Winnats pass from Castleton up to Mam Tor car park and climb up the stairs to the top for some awesome views. You can also walk along the ridge from Mam Tor to Lose Hill if you want a beautiful hike.
Stanage Edge: Another beautiful hike. Even if you don't do the whole hike it is worth walking part way just for the views.
Lose Hill: We did this hike on a really hot day (back when it was still summer!). It is a hard walk up, but then quite flat once you are at the top and the views are rewarding. You can walk up to the top of Lose Hill along a bit and back down for a short walk, or you can continue along the ridge all the way to Mam Tor for a longer walk. The public transport in the Peak District is amazing... there are lots of buses and train stations in lots of the villages, so you can always walk one way and catch a train back!
Eyam Village: We did this on a very rainy day. It is known as the plague village as in the 17th Century when the plague came to Eyam via a fabric delivery, the village officials took measures to stop the plague from spreading through the Peak District. They held church services outdoors, if anyone died their own family had to bury them and they forbade anyone from leaving the village. 83 out of 350 survived. Today it is just a pretty little English village, but there is a small museum about the plague and you can visit some of the graves of people who died including the Hancock family grave where 6 family members were buried in 8 days. It is sad, but worth visiting if you're interested in history.
Bakewell is lovely little market town which is obviously famous for it's Bakewell tart. There are several bakeries and tea shops where you can buy Bakewell tarts and puddings. I only found out what a Bakewell pudding was on our last holiday and it is nothing like a bakewell tart! It is made with a pastry base and some sort of sweet almond filling, it is really yum! The Bakewell tarts are really good too, proper homemade tarts compared to the mass produced Mr Kipling tarts.
Grindsbrook Clough Scramble: This is a 3 hour hike circular hike from Edale. It really is beautiful as you hike through a valley with a stream surrounded by sheep and heather. Half way through the hike you have to scramble up rocks as you climb up out of the valley and then walk along the top on your way back. There is a longer version to the one we did, but this was tough enough for me!
The Monsal Trail: The Monsal trail used to be a railway line and is now an easy traffic-free 8.5 mile cycle or walking route. You cycle through old tunnels and passed converted stations. When you get to Monsal Dale it is worth climbing up to the top for a view of the valley and the viaduct. It is popular, but a really nice day. We hired bikes at Blackwell Mill and cycled from there to Hassop station where we had lunch in Hassop station and then cycled back. If you don't have time to do this it is worth stopping at the top of Monsal Dale on a drive just to see the view.
The Nab: This is another lovely walk from Edale, but much shorter and less strenuous than the Grindsbrook Clough. It took us an hour and a half, but that included taking a wrong turn in the rain and stopping at the top (when it had stopped raining) to have our flapjacks and lemonade, so I reckon it would be an hour on a good day!
I love trying local food when I travel, and the Peak District does not disappoint. We are usually spoilt by Chris's aunty and uncle who have the most amazing country kitchen with a big Aga, so we get to try lots of local produce and home cooked food. Some of the things we have tried:
Derbyshire Oatcake - this is like a sort of savoury pancake that we laid on our plates with a Full-English breakfast on top of it. You can also fill them with savoury fillings like cheese and mushrooms, like you would a crepe.
Bakewell pudding from Bakewell - you obviously have to try this if you are in the Peak District. I've never seen the Bakewell pudding anywhere else and it is totally different to a Bakewell tart.
Award winning black-pudding and Losehill lamb from Watsons farm shop in Hope.
Thorpe Farm Ice-Cream. You can visit their shop at their farm, or you can buy it in Watson's farm shop or some of the other local shops
Local cheeses: Peakland Blue, Peakland White, Hartington Stilton, Stanage Millstone
Ales from local breweries: Peak Ales, Intrepid, Thornbridge and Bradfield
Where we ate:
The Devonshire Arms in Beeley. Most of the pubs in the Peak District serve hearty pub grub as they are catering for ravenous walkers. This is the closest place you will get to a gastro pub. It is near Chatsworth Estate so you could tie it in and do both on the same day. The food was really good especially my starter which was sardines on toast and featured a whole sardine and my passionfruit mess for pudding (both pictured above)
The Curry Cabin in Hope. This is the local Indian in Hope and for a tiny village it is really authentic and has some really good food! They also do a handi dish every night which is their home cooked curry that they eat for dinner, so nothing like a creamy chicken korma!
The Old Nags Head in Edale. This is a proper pub serving proper pub grub! Seriously good bangers and mash. They also made us wrapped up sandwiches for lunch which we took away for one of our hikes. I had a very good fishfinger sandwich!
The Riverside Cafe between Hope and Hathersage. This is a garden centre and farm shop and has a little cafe round the back serving lots of lovely cakes. The cafe looks out to lots of trees and a river and there are loads of feeders right by the windows where tiny birds come to feed.
Where we slept:
We mostly stayed at the lovely Chez Gregory in Hope, which is so good, but unfortunately I'm not sure how they would feel about strangers knocking on their door.
We have also stayed at The Gathering in Edale, which is an amazing venue with 4 bedrooms and 4 safari tents and coincidentally also where we are getting married next year (hence why we stayed there whilst scouting for venues). I can't recommend this place enough. The rooms and tents are done up to a very high standard and are all very comfortable. It is the perfect place for a family getaway as it can cater for about 30 people in all the accommodation, dining room etc.
Tips: If you plan to do any walking make sure you take or buy an OS map in one of the walking shops! I think it is an essential... we used ours on every walk. Also, all of the car parks we parked at charged for parking and you can't pay on card, so make sure you carry change with you!