Walking in the Peak District National Park
The Peak District National Park, embracing a southern extension of the England's Pennine backbone was the first National Park in Britain to be so designated, in April 1951. Today it is, in visitor numbers, the most popular of Britain's National Parks and is commonly referred to as the 'lungs of the industrial Midlands'. More than any other of our National Parks, the Peak District provides essential recreation for the cities of Manchester and Sheffield, including great walking in contrasting landscapes.
In parts of it's northern area the Peak District can be a wild, forbidding place with high peaks at over 600m. This contrasts with the gentler Derbyshire Dales of the southern area where lively streams splash down idyllic valleys, Dovedale being the most justifiably famous example. This contrast is due to the differing geology of the northern and southern areas. The north, together with the east and west perimeters, comprise peat moorland and grey millstone grit, predominantly clad in heather and bracken. This dark brooding appearance has given the area the title 'Dark Peak' and in bad weather it can indeed be a hostile environment. It can also provide exhilarating walking with spectacular views and a wonderful sense of freedom. The southern geology is predominantly limestone, which gives rise to the deep eroded dales and supports a greener and lighter landscape known as 'White Peak'.
Here is a region of endless variety and interest that can provide a lifetime's enjoyable walking. There are idyllic riverside walks, splendid vistas and the glorious colours of spring wildflowers and summer heather. The geology is fascinating, from the dramatic limestone cliffs of White Peak, packed with fossils, to the magnificent gritstone edges with their strange shapes, so typical of Dark Peak. Archaeologically the region is also rewarding with fascinating locations such as Gardom's Edge with its famous rock art, Magpie Mine and the ceremonial monument at Arbor Low, all of which make good destinations for a walk.
On bank holiday weekends honeypots like Dovedale, Bakewell and Castleton become very crowded and are probably best avoided, but it is quite easy to escape the crowds with a map and walking guide and have relative solitude in which to absorb the sights and sounds of the countryside. Within the White Peak area good locations to walk are Lathkill Dale from Monyash, Thor's Cave from Wetton, Pilsbury Castle, Chatsworth from Bakewell, Tideswell and Cheedale. There is also easy walking on the Tissington Trail which follows the trackway of a disused railway. In the Dark Peak good locations are the Goyt Valley, Stanage Edge, Shutlingsoe, Win Hill, Kinder South and the Woolpacks, Stanton Moor and The Roaches. From Edale, of course, you can walk part of the Pennine Way which begins there.
Hartington - Hartington is an attractive small town close to the River Dove between Buxton and Ashbourne and surrounded by beautiful scenery. Georgian houses built in fawn coloured stone surround a spacious town square, lending a feeling of quiet elegance to the town. The red sandstone church of St Giles with its battlements and curious gargoyles overlooks the town, and on the outskirts Hartington Hall, a youth hostel, once played host to Bonnie Prince Charlie. Hartington is one of only two towns in England that can make genuine Stilton cheese. Nearby Beresford Dale, a beautiful stretch of the River Dove, can be reached via a footpath from the town.
OS Maps: Explorer OL24
A Walk from Hartington [SK 128604]
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Area 1438 square km