Top Ten Beauty Spots in the Peak District National Park
...our pick of the 10 best, natural, Peak attractions
Let's Stay Peak District attempts the impossible and brings you our top ten Peak beauty spots. We are truly spoiled for choice, but here goes and in no particular order...
The famous and much photographed viewpoint of Monsal Head, some 500 feet/150m above the winding valley of the River Wye and Monsal Dale, is about a mile west of Great Longstone. The view takes in the prominent, hillfort-topped headland of Fin Cop to the west; Upperdale towards Cressbrook to the north, and the five-arched viaduct of the former Midland Line, constructed in the 1860s, in the foreground.
Dovedale north of Ashbourne is perhaps the most famous of the White Peak dales, but a place to be avoided on Bank Holiday weekends when the large car park soon fills. The restoration of the famous Stepping Stones beneath Thorpe Cloud at the entrance to the dale attracted much controversy recently. But the startling rock formations, rising clear out of the ash woodlands, such as the Tissington Spires, Lion’s Head Rock, Ilam Rock and Pickering Tor, are well worth the effort to take the easy, three-mile path north to Milldale.
Lathkill Dale, near Over Haddon, is part of Natural England’s Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve, and is many people’s favourite Peak District dale. A stroll through the narrow, wooded dale either from Monyash or Over Haddon, is a delight, especially in early summer. Hidden in the trees of Palmerston Wood are the ivy-covered remains of the Mandale Lead Mine, showing that this now-peaceful spot was once a hive of industry.
The attractive gritstone village of Edale – or Grindsbrook Booth – lies in the shadow of Kinder Scout, the highest point of the Peak, in the heart of the Edale valley. Edale village is the largest of the five small hamlets, known as ‘booths’, which dot the valley floor. The Moorland Centre at Fieldhead, Edale, is the natural starting point for the exploration of Edale and Kinder Scout.
The view from Stanage Edge, on the edge of the Eastern Moors above Hathersage, is one of the finest in the Dark Peak, extending across the Derwent Valley and northwards towards Kinder Scout. There are over 650 rock climbing routes along the edge, many of which have been given descriptive names such as the Left and Right Unconquerables.
The Winnats Pass west of Castleton is the Peak District’s equivalent of Somerset’s Cheddar Gorge. It is a spectacular dry limestone gorge which was formed by underwater sea currents cutting through a tropical reef some 350 million years ago. When plans were made to make it traffic free in the 1980s, the collapse of the Mam Tor road necessitated it once again becoming the main route from the Hope Valley to Chapel-en-le-Frith.
The short, stepped walk up from the Mam Nick car park to the summit of Mam Tor, the so-called ‘Shivering Mountain’ west of Castleton, rewards you with one of the finest views in the Peak. Mam Tor is one of the largest and highest Iron Age hillforts in the Pennines, and the view from the top extends down the Hope Valley to the east, with the pimple-like summit of Win Hill prominent. The paved ridgeway path to Lose Hill via Hollins Cross and Back Tor beckons nearer at hand, while across the verdant Edale valley stands the brooding peak of Kinder Scout.
The Roaches, Hen Cloud and Ramshaw Rocks, dramatic outcrops of pink-tinged gritstone near Leek, offer wonderfully airy walking and climbing, as they tower over the plains and the Tittesworth Reservoir on the plain below. Hidden in the depths of Back Forest to the north of the Roaches is Lud’s Church, a mysterious chasm with links to the ancient poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Upper Derwent Valley
The Upper Derwent valley north of Bamford is famous for its series of three large reservoirs – the Howden, the Derwent and the Ladybower – which have flooded the valley floor. But the mixture of large expanses of water surrounded by the conifer plantations which were planted for water purity, is endlessly popular with visitors, who flock to the visitor centre at Fairholmes to hear the tales of the Dambusters who trained here, and the “lost” villages of Derwent and Ashopton.
Upper Dove Valley including Chrome Hill & Parkhouse Hill
Close to Buxton and the village of Earl Sterndale in particular, the unique, craggy hills of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill stand spectacularly and incongruously at the top end of the Upper Dove Valley. Jagged summits and steep slopes ensure that these two neighbours stand out like giant sore thumbns in a district of generally gently rolling hills. Not to be missed at any price! The best way to see them is to park in Earl Sterndale and take the path behind the quaint Quiet Woman pub.
© Let's Stay Peak District
Last Updated: 15 Jun 2015