Top Ten Attractions of the Peak District
...ten of the best Peak places to go
Let's Stay Peak District brings you our very own top ten attractions in the Peak District, the UK's first National Park - and there can only be one place to start.
Chatsworth, ancestral home of the Dukes of Devonshire, is well known as “the Palace of the Peak,” and the Palladian mansion on the banks of the Derwent is a veritable treasurehouse of works of art.
The current building is largely the creation of the 4th Earl (later to become the 1st Duke), the Dutch architect William Talman and Thomas Archer, between 1678 and 1707. Today Chatsworth is in the top five privately-owned stately homes in the country, attracting over 600,000 visitors annually to its house, gardens, childrens’ farmyard and adventure playground.
Romantic Haddon Hall near Bakewell has been a seat of the Dukes of Rutland for eight centuries and is now the home of Lord and Lady Edward Manners. This near-perfect medieval manor house stands high on a limestone bluff overlooking the River Wye, making its battlemented towers and walls an ever-popular backdrop as the setting of many films and TV costume dramas.
Visitors to Lyme Park near Disley, may well recognise it as the setting for TV’s 1995 hit drama series Pride and Prejudice. It served as Pemberley, the home of Mr Darcy in Jane Austen’s famous novel, and the lake in front of the house was where Darcy (played by Colin Firth) took his notorious dip when meeting Elizabeth Bennet for the first time. Lyme Park is a kind of blackened, northern Chatsworth, built in the then-fashionable 18th century Palladian style for the Legh family, in whose hands it remained for 600 years.
Castleton’s four famous show caverns attract thousands of visitors wanting to enjoy the Peak’s spectacular underground riches in comfort and safety. The show caves are all quite different, from the spectacular and brilliantly-lit formations of Treak Cliff, to the unique experience of an underground canal trip at Speedwell and the awesome gaping void of Peak Cavern, thought to be the largest cave entrance in Britain and once the site of a subterranean village of rope-makers.
Gulliver’s Kingdom, Matlock Bath
Children love the rides in the various themed areas of the Gulliver’s Kingdom theme park, just off the A6 at Matlock Bath. They can enter the world of the Wild West in the Western World, undertake a flight of fancy on the Fantasy Terrace, or enjoy the thrills and spills of the Switchback and log roller coaster in the Palais Royale area. If that isn’t enough, there’s the Party House and Lilliput Land areas, where various special events are held throughout the year.
Cable Cars and Heights of Abraham, Matlock Bath
Named after General James Wolfe’s famous victory at Quebec in 1759, the Heights of Abraham are reached by an exciting cable car ride high above the gorge of the Derwent in Matlock Bath. A guided tour through the Great Masson Cavern takes you from the flickering light of a lead miner’s candle to the awe-inspiring sight of the whole cavern awash with colour. The Great Rutland Cavern was formerly the Nestus lead mine, are here you can experiencethe lives of the 17th century lead miners who firstdiscovered these caves
Carsington Water reservoir, west of Wirksworth, was constructed in 1992 and provided visiting water-lovers with a great opportunity. Today, the 741 acre/300ha reservoir has a thriving sailing club and facilities for windsurfing, canoeing and fishing, and there is a cycle hire centre if you want to cycle around the shores. And there’s an adventure playground for the kids, and the reservoir provides an important wetland habitat for many water-loving species of animals, birds and insects.
Bakewell claims to be the capital of the Peak District, and with a population of around 4,000, it is the largest town in the National Park and the headquarters of the National Park authority. Among its many attractions, apart from a fine range of shops, are the pleasant riverside walks by the River Wye; the 14th century town bridge; the ancient parish church of All Saints on its hilltop site, and the National Park information centre, housed in the 17th century Old Market Hall.
The well dressings of the Peak District are a unique example of originally pagan folk art which attract thousands of visitors to local villages and towns throughout the summer. Visitors come to marvel at their intricate and colourful designs, each one different from the other, and all executed by local people usually using purely natural, locally-found materials. Visit the nearest tourist information centre for dates and times.
Buxton (Poole’s Cavern and Museum)
Poole’s Cavern in Buxton is one of the great caverns of the Peak District and also claims to have been called the first Wonder of the Peak in the 17th century. Named after a former outlaw, Poole’s Cavern is situated in the beautiful woodland of Buxton Country Park. Visitors can enjoy the latest facilities in a new visitor centre, restaurant and exhibition.
The award-winning Wonders of the Peak gallery is a highlight in the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, in Terrace Road just below the Market Place.
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Last Updated: 15 Jun 2015