It is very easy to forget that the Peak District National Park and all of its attractions are on our doorstop and within easy reach of Great Escape Campers. Why not explore the area in Freddie the Campervan at your leisure and maximise your time in the beautiful countryside.
We have put together a suggested route that allows you easy access to many of the attractions and activities in the Peak District but by no means covers them all but it may just remind you that you don’t always have to spend hours travelling to have adventure.
From our base in Belper head out towards the A610 at Buckland Hollow and take the B6013 towards Oakerthorpe and then heading on to the A615 towards Matlock. After 5 miles turn right onto the wonderfully named Lickpenny Lane and for me this is when you feel you have entered the Peak District. Keep crossing straight over at all of the junctions you come will eventually reach Beeley Moor, a beautiful location for walking on the hills high above Chatsworth House which boasts panoramic views over the River Derwent and Stanton Moor.
Should you wish to continue drop down the hill into Beeley Village and turn right onto the B6012 into the magnificent grounds of the Chatsworth Estate. Chatsworth House is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and is one of the grandest stately homes in the Country www.chatsworth.org. Here you can go into the house and gardens, walk amongst the deer, visit the wonderful restaurants or explore the farmyard and playground, spending a full day in the Chatsworth Estate is more than easy.
There is also a fabulous Caravan and Motorhome Club site giving direct access to the grounds of Chatsworth where you can base yourself www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/peak-district/derbyshire/chatsworth-park-caravan-club-site/ and two pubs offering good food within walking distance in the village of Baslow, The Wheatsheaf, The Devonshire Arms and The Cavendish Hotel.
After leaving Chatsworth, continue along the B6012 to Baslow and then head out on the A621 Sheffield Road, at the top of the hill take the B6054 towards Foxhouses and passing through the National Trust owned Longshaw Estate www.nationaltrust.org.uk/longshaw-burbage-and-the-eastern-moors. The area affords stunning views across the valleys towards the Derwent Valley and Sheffield, wildlife and fantastic walking and cycling.
Head towards the village of Hathersage where you can visit the grave of Little John, Robin Hood’s trusted sidekick situated by the south door of the Church of St. Michael or a swim in the outdoor swimming pool, if your brave enough www.hathersageswimmingpool.co.uk
Leave Hathersage on the A6187 towards Hope Valley and turn right towards Bamford, continue through the village and you will reach the stunning Ladybower Reservoir, opened by King George VI in 1945, Derwent Reservoir and Howden Reservoir, collectively are called Derwent Dams. The Peak District National Park’s Upper Derwent Valley is known for its majestic reservoirs, spectacular scenery, peaceful forests and wild open spaces.
In World War II, the topographical similarity between the Upper Derwent Valley and the Ruhr Valley of Germany led to the dams being used for practice runs for the Lancaster Bombers of 617 Squadron (the Dam Busters) before their attack on the Ruhr dams. The world-famous Dam Busters film was subsequently filmed here, and the area has seen various commemorative flypasts by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight www.dambusters.org.uk
A circular 18 mile cycle route around the Ladybower, Derwent and Howden Reservoirs is an excellent family ride, most of which is off road and there are good facilities at Fairholmes Car Park, including toilets and refreshments.
Having explored this area, retrace your steps through the village of Bamford and turn right onto the road towards Castleton, the A6187. You may choose to detour along this route with a visit to Edale where you can explore Kinder Scout, Jacobs Ladder, Kinder Downfall and Mam Tor.
If you have done enough walking head into Castleton where you can visit the Blue John caverns, the only place in the world where the semi-precious Blue John stone can be found www.bluejohn-cavern.co.uk, perhaps you would like to see the Devils Arse at Peak Cavern where you can also visit Speedwell Cavern with a 2 for 1 ticket, www.peakcavern.co.uk or maybe the ruins of the Norman Peveril Castle, built in 1086 for William Peveril, a favoured knight of William the Conqueror.
The spectacular drive from Castleton up past Speedwell Cavern up through Winnat’s Pass is an absolute must…. the views are simply stunning!! www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kinder-edale-and-the-dark-peak/features/winnats-pass
At the summit head out on the A623 towards Bakewell, along the route you may want to consider a detour into the villages of Tideswell and the magnificent church of St John the Baptist is with justification known as the “Cathedral of the Peak”, built entirely in the 14th century or further along the A623 the “plague village” of Eyam. In 1665 a tailor from Eyam ordered a box of materials relating to his trade from London, that he was to make into clothes for the villagers. He unwittingly triggered a chain of events that led to 260 Eyam villagers dying from the Bubonic Plague – more than double the mortality rate suffered by the citizens of London in the Great Plague www.eyamvillage.org.uk
However, we choose to head off to Monsal Dale and Monsal Head, one of the area’s most photographed viewpoints featuring the winding river Wye at the bottom of the steep dale and the famous Headstone viaduct. There is plenty to do here for everyone whether it is a gentle stroll along the river followed by a picnic at the weir, a cycle along the disused railway trail crossing over the viaduct, a pub lunch or just sitting watching the world go by with gorgeous views www.visitpeakdistrict.com/things-to-do/monsal-head-and-monsal-dale-p681131
Leave Monsal Head and drop down the hill into Ashford in the Water, from here you can take the short drive along the A6 into Bakewell or for something a little different visit Magpie Mine on the outskirts of Sheldon village. The mine has a history of some 200 years and is one of the UK’s best preserved surface mines https://pdmhs.co.uk/magpie-mine-peak-district-history/ and set amongst stunning surroundings, definitely worth a visit.
The small market town of Bakewell is always a popular location, with its quaint shops, specialist agricultural market, relaxing strolls and a certain famous pudding, www.bakewellpuddingshop.co.uk for the sweet toothed amongst you as well as many cosy restaurants and cafés.
Returning back to Belper you may want to stop off at some of the other attractions in the area such as Haddon Hall www.haddonhall.co.uk, Peak Rail www.peakrail.co.uk/our-railway/peak-rail-stations/darleydalestation/, Matlock and Matlock Bath, Lumsdale falls www.cromfordmills.org.uk/lumsdale , The heights of Abraham www.heightsofabraham.com or Crich Tramway Museum www.tramway.co.uk to name a few.
The Peak District is such a wonderful area to explore and this route covers only a small portion of it and there is so much more to offer so why not go and explore for yourself.
Places to Stay
The Peak District is full of many wonderful area’s to camp, we have already mentioned Chatsworth Park, here are a few more: –
Castleton Caravan Club Site www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/peak-district/derbyshire/castleton-caravan-club-site
Callow Top Holiday Park, Ashbourne www.callowtop.co.uk
Upper Booth Farm & Campsite, Dale www.nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays/upper-booth-farm-campsite