Growing up on the edge of the Peak District National Park made it almost impossible to truly appreciate the stunning beauty and unique landscape which makes the Peaks the incredible place that it is today. I have to confess to taking for granted the rolling green hills which suddenly hit a limestone crag creating a wild and rugged beauty which far too few people get to really appreciate. In fact it was probably not until the mid-nineties when as a teenager a watched Mr Darcy emerge from the lake on the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that I heard Elizabeth Bennett?s Aunt describe the Peaks as the most beautiful place in Britain that it dawned on me what a privileged place it was to grow up. So with that in mind, here are my top 5 favourite Peak District locations for those who appreciate incredible scenery far more than I ever did!Chatsworth
On many a Sunday afternoon my family would wander out to Chatsworth House, the very place in which Mr Darcy’s home Pemberley was based in Jane Austen’s timeless novel. One of Britain’s grandest Stately homes, the house itself makes for an incredible back drop to stunning scenery, a delightful river walk and plenty of land on which to relax, picnic, count sheep and simply soak in the surrounding tranquillity. A delightful garden centre sits in the ground of Chatsworth and the huge parkland is a haven for deer and other local wildlife. ?
Blue John Caverns
The small attractive town of Castleton is set high up in the peaks and nestles it’s way between several small limestone mountains.? Where there’s a lot of limestone there are usually a lot of caves and Castleton is no exception. There are 4 visitable caverns in the area, all unique and worth a look. Blue John cavern is probably the most famous of these taking its name from the semi-precious stone which is abundant in this area. Treak Cliff Cavern boasts some incredible wonders including magnificent stalagmites and stalactites whilst Speedwell is a boat journey through old mining tunnels and not for those with claustrophobia! Peak Cavern is also known as the Devil’s Arse due to the incredible noise which can occasionally be heard coming from the cave which sits proudly on the mountain side. Overlooking the town of Castleton is the historic Peveril Castle ruin which is also well worth popping in to.?
Possibly my all-time favourite, Matlock Bath is like a charming sea-side resort without the beach. It does however have a delightful river which runs straight through the centre of the town which sits in a valley with steep cliffs on either side and a row of shops, amusements, cafe’s and unusual museums through the middle ? plus of course the old Bath’s themselves! Originally developed as a popular Victorian holiday resort due to its natural spa waters, the pool can still be visited today although the water is less inviting than it perhaps once was! Attractions here include a hill side children’s theme park called Gulliver’s World and the famous Heights of Abraham, a cable car which takes you from the cliff top on one side, straight across the valley to the cliff top on the other side. For the slightly less adventurous, well you can’t beat a bag of chips and a wander by the river.
The Monsal Trail is a 8.5 mile walking, cycling or horse-riding route which runs right through the heart of the Peak National park along the old Midland railway line. The incredible route crosses valleys, streams, over viaducts and through old railway tunnels which have recently undergone transformation to make them safe, lit and accessible for visitors during the day. The line starts in Chee Dale and finishes in the picturesque town of Bakewell where you can enjoy a Bakewell Pudding after your trek through the countryside. There are 2 cycle hire centres along the route for visitors without their own bike and interpretation panels explain the history and explain what you’re seeing along the way. The famous Monsal viaduct is a key feature of the route and you also pass several mills and lime kilns marking the industrial heritage of the region.
The Derwent Dams are a spectacular feature of the Peak National Park and one with a fascinating history. The dams are a series of reservoirs which step through a beautiful Valley creating a number of stunning features. Around the dams is a long (13 mile or so) route which is perfect for cycling or a long walk and again has a cycle hire centre for those without bikes. One of the reservoirs ? Ladybower was famously created through flooding a small town which sat in the valley. For a long time during hot summers the steeple of the church and roof tops would peak eerily through the top of the water making it a haven for divers. Sadly this grew dangerous and the buildings beneath the water were knocked down and can now only be seen up to waist height during particularly bad droughts. The Derwent dams which sit just above it famously provided the training ground for the WW2 ‘Dambusters’ and its strange to imagine all the fake bouncing bombs sitting at the bottom as you meander through the stunning countryside. Aircraft still make regular visits to the reservoirs as one can only imagine the valley is an incredible place for any pilot to navigate. This usually makes for an interesting feature on a walk through the deafening thunder of a fighter Jet blasting through just above the water is enough to rattle even the biggest RAF fan!?
By Ruth Lancey, GBT Team Member
Date: 2017-11-28 13:17:29