7 of the best walks in the Peak District

From hikes across high moorlands and vast gritstone ridges to gentle strolls through historic mill towns and stately homes, the Peak District offers walks for every mood and level of ability...

4 mins

1. Mam Tor

Sunrise over Mam Tor in Peak District (Shutterstock)

Sunrise over Mam Tor in Peak District (Shutterstock)

This easy walk to the top of Mam Tor, or Mother Hill, is one of the most popular in the Peak District. The 517 metre high hill sits on the edge of the Dark Peak (gritstone) and the White Peak (limestone), offering breathtaking views across the limestone parts of the National Park, like the dry gorge of Winnats Pass.

The 5-mile walk follows simple, well laid footpaths most of the way and fairly easy ascents. And because it is located near Castleton, Mam Tor has a number of caverns just below it, all waiting to be explored. Treak Cliff Cavern, Blue John Cavern, Speedwell Cavern and Peak Cavern – take your pick!

2. Hartington to Pilsbury Castle

Hartington village (Visit Peak District & Derbyshire)

Hartington village (Visit Peak District & Derbyshire)

If you love cheese – and castles – then this is the walk for you. Starting in the pretty Derbyshire village of Hartington, this 7½ mile circular route will take you through some of the most scenic countryside in the county. 

Your ultimate goal is Pilsbury Castle. The ruins looks over the River Dove and was built by the Normans back in 110. It is a rare motte and bailey castle, with the keep built on a mound and surrounded by a protective ditch, and is regarded as one of the best in the county.

For cheese lovers, the rewards come after you return to Hartington, where a visit to one of the town’s famous cheese shops could see you stocking up on Hartington Stilton, Peakland Cranberry and Orange, or if you’re brave, the aromatic Peakland Blue.

4. Ilam to Dovedale

Stepping stones at Dovedale (Visit Peak District & Derbyshire)

Stepping stones at Dovedale (Visit Peak District & Derbyshire)

Short and sweet – and incredibly beautiful, too. The walk from the stately grounds of Ilam Hall to Dovedale is the perfect introduction to the limestone geology of the White Peak section of the Peak District and the wildlife living here.

Just 1½ miles long, the walk offers great views across the Manifold Valley and ends with a hop, skip and a jump across step stones in the River Dove. The river marks the boundary between Derbyshire and Staffordshire and is an important habitat for fish, invertebrates and birds. Keep an eye out for dipper, heron and ducks as you cross.

5. Derwent Valley Heritage Way

Ashopton Viaduct above Ladybower Reservoir (Shutterstock)

Ashopton Viaduct above Ladybower Reservoir (Shutterstock)

Stretching from Ladybower Reservoir in the north to Shardlow in the south, the Derwent Heritage Way takes walkers through Derbyshire Dales, the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site and on to Derwent Mouth, where the Derwent River flows into the River Trent. It is 55 miles long, but can be broken into a series of shorter walks.

Expect a reservoir, miles of open countryside, two canals, World Heritage mills, quaint villages, stately homes and the odd museums or two. You’ll also find plenty of pubs and tea shops to help you get to the end.

6. The Roaches & Luds Church

Lud's Church, Peak District National Park (Shutterstock)

Lud's Church, Peak District National Park (Shutterstock)

This 5-mile walk through gnarled gritstone formations of The Roaches is, quite literally, the stuff of legend. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from the Arthurian legend are said to have done battle here, their swords clanging against the rock face of the high-sided chasm known as Lud’s Church.

Walking through the atmospheric Lud’s Church, it’s easy to imagine the scene. These days, however, you’re more likely to spot peregrine falcons than Knights of the Round Table.

7. Hathersage to Stanage Edge

Mill stones on Stanage Edge (Shutterstock)

Mill stones on Stanage Edge (Shutterstock)

Here’s one for Jane Eyre fans. This 9 mile walk, starting in the village of Hathersage, will take you to the cliffs of Stanage Edge via North Lees Hall, the 16th century manor that is thought to have been the inspiration behind Mr Rochester’s home in the novel.

The path to Stanage Edge is sprinkled with old millstones and grindstones from the mills that once flourished here. Abandoned in the 1860s, these remnants have become an iconic symbol of the district. 

The literary associations continue upon reaching Stanage Edge. It was here that Keira Knightley stood looking windswept and pensive in the film adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. And who can blame her? It is arguably the most impressive gritstone escarpment in the Peak District, with superb views of the Derwent & Hope Valleys, Mam Tor and Kinder Scout. 


More things to do in the Peak District: 

Great British Escape: Edale, The Peak District

Mini-top 5 guide: Peak District

 Best off road cycling routes Peak District

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