The Peak District is a National Park in the midlands, and is definitely up there as one of my favourite places for walks and hikes in England. Maybe even my favourite (after the South West Coast Path that is).
Known for its hills (it is after all called the peak district), with vast far reaching views, moorland, valleys, rock edges, and cute villages, it’s no surprise its a wonderful place for walks.
Did you know, that the Peak District is part of the southern end of the Pennine Range of hills, which runs up to the North of England? It’s commonly known as the backbone of England.
Are these walks and hikes in the Peak District easy to follow?
For everyone of the walks in the Peak District on this list, I have written a full detailed hike guide. Which includes logistics, an interactive map, tips, and a detailed description of the walk route with photos. I link to each one below.
Most of these walks can be shortened, (if you don’t fancy a massive hike on your visit to the Peak District) which I describe how, in the walk guide for each one.
Getting to the Peak District National Park
Located mostly in the county of Derbyshire (and spreading a little into surrounding counties in the middle of England).
If coming from London, it will take you a good 3-4hs by car. The most direct route is along the M1. If coming from the south west, the M5, then M6 will get you there (or near there).
There are train networks that run into the Peak District from Derby, Manchester, and Sheffield. So if coming from another part of England, you will need to get to one of these first. From London St Pancras to Derby it’s about 1.5hours, and to Sheffield it’s around 2h. From London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly, it’s a bit over 2h. Just be aware though that Derby is the furthest away from the Peak District, so it will take longer to get in from there.
Getting around, and to the hikes in the Peak District
If you plan on getting to the Peak District by train, I would recommend renting a car when you are there. All these walks in the Peak District do start at a car park.
Read more: What to pack on a day hike
There is a way you can get to all of them by bus or train, but you would be either starting from a different point in the route, or have to walk a bit more to get to the route.
It will be a lot easier to get around and see different places in the Peak District, for different hikes, if you have a car.
I realise that driving isn’t for everyone, which is why I plan to move to the area for a short while and solely do walks using public transport, so I can give you more options.
Best walks and hikes in the Peak District National Park
1) Stanage Edge – The first of 3 rock faces
Start/Finish: Hooks Carr car park Distance: 7.3 miles Time: 3h23min Difficulty: Mostly easy, with a challenging end Type: Circular Without a car: This hike takes you near Hathersage which has a train station. It’s a short walk from there to get to the walk route.
Stanage Edge is long gritstone escarpment (basically a long stone wall). Walking along the top of it I found to be truly unique, with flat rocks, grass patches and heather. You can choose just to walk along the top (as opposed to the full hike), with fantastic far reaching views across the Peak District. That would be a lovely walk in itself.
However, in this walk guide, you will then come down off the edge and circle around through the valley, where you will get a really impressive view of Stanage Edge looming above.
Read more: Stanage Edge circular walk
2) Mam Tor via Cave Dale – My Favourite of these walks in the Peak District
Start/Finish: Mam Tor Distance: 8 miles Time: 3h 23min Difficulty: Moderate (mostly easy, with one challenging bit) Type: Circular Without a car: You can come from Edale (train), but it will add a bit to the walk to get to the start. You can start the walk from Castleton which has buses.
For me, this is the most impressive of all these walks in the Peak District. First you will walk from Mam Tor and along the Great Ridge.
The Great Ridge is fantastic, with views down both sides into the valleys. It sounds challenging, but it’s not. The Great Ridge itself is a (mostly) stone paved path along the top of a ridge. You can keep the walk short and easy, and stay up there, enjoying the views all around of the Peak District.
However, for this guide, you will descend off the ridge, through the fields, to reach the village of Castleton, and then Cave Dale.
Cave Dale is one of the most impressive places I have walked in the Peak District. It’s a dry limestone valley, tucked away, like a hidden secret. This part of the walk is a little more challenging, but not a crazy amount. More so because it’s uphill, and on some loose rocks.
Read more: Mam Tor circular walk
3) Lud’s Church – The most mystical of these walks in the Peak District
Start/Finish: The Roaches Gradbach car park Distance: 3 miles Time: 1h20min Difficulty: Easy (there is a hill, but it’s not too tough) Type: There and back Without a car: The best way would be via the Roaches (see the Roaches further down)
This is the most mystical of the walks in the Peak District on the list. It’s a relatively short and easy walk through woodland, to reach an enchanting moss covered chasm. It was historically used as a place of worship for Lollards, who were persecuted for their beliefs.
A place like this you would expect to have a few legends and myths. And that it does. One story goes, that it was a hiding place for Robin Hood. Another says it was created by the Devil, scraping back the earth with his finger nail.
If you do one thing in the Peak District, make it Lud’s Church…and Cave Dale. Ok thats two.
There is the option to make this walk longer, by including the Roaches (we will get to that in a minute).
Read more: Lud’s Church walk
4) Bamford Edge – The second rock face
Start/Finish: Dennis Knoll car park Distance: 6.5miles Time: 2h 45min Difficulty: Mostly easy Type: Circular Without a car: You can get a bus to the bottom of Bamford Edge (see the guide for more details).
Another gritstone escarpment you can walk along in the Peak District National Park. In fact, this walk takes you along not just Bamford Edge, but Stanage Edge as well. Two for the price of one.
Stanage Edge is quite popular, and can get quite busy. However, the section you will do on this walk is the quieter bit.
To get between the two, you will walk through open moorland, which can be a little boggy in parts.
Along both edges you will have some impressive views, to the pointy peaks in the distance, and down to the Ladybower reservoir.
Read more: Bamford Edge circular walk
5) The Roaches via Lud’s Church – Another rock face, but with added mysticalness
Start/Finish: Roaches road Distance: 6.5miles Time: 2h 30min Difficulty: Moderate Type: There and back Without a car: You can get a bus to the southern end of Roaches road and start from there.
The Roaches is another rocky Edge. Yes the Peak District has a lot of them.
This walk starts off taking you below the Roaches, and then you will hike up it, where you will have fantastic far reaching views across the Peak District. Apparently you can see as far as Snowden on a clear day.
You will then descend down into the woods, to reach the enchanting Lud’s Church, before doing a small loop, then heading back.
If you want, you can do a little bit of scrambling on this one. You can skip this though, if it’s not your thing.
If you don’t want to do the full route, you can do the Roaches on its own, then go over to Lud’s Church, and see that separately.
Read more: The Roaches walk
6) Winnats Pass – The famous road
Start/Finish: Old Mam Tor road Distance: 3.5miles Time: 1h30min Difficulty: A challenge at the start, then easy the rest of the way Type: Circular Without a car: Buses go through Castleton, and this walk is near enough that you could start from there.
This walk takes you along one of the most well known and impressive roads in the Peak District. Winnats Pass. It is essentially a limestone gorge, with a road running through it.
I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this walk in the Peak District, having driven through Winnats Pass a few times, would walking it be any better? Especially as the trail is alongside the road.
Well, I can tell you I enjoyed it a lot. You definitely get more of a feel of the grandeur of it, when walking as opposed to driving.
Another great thing about this walk, is you get to see two impressive places in the Peak District. As it also includes a bit of the Great Ridge and Mam Tor.
With its proximity to the village of Castleton, it would even make a great little walk before a pub lunch. It’s one of the shorter walks on the list, so it’s perfect if you want to tie it in with other exploring in the Peak District.
Read more: Winnats Pass walk
Final thoughts on the best walks and hikes in the Peak District National Park
I hope you found something that will work for you on this list. If you only have a short time in the Peak District, and can’t decide which of the walks to do. This is what I recommend:
For the biggest bang for your buck, I would do Mam Tor via Cave Dale. If you can fit it in, I would then pop over to see Lud’s Church. Maybe on a different day though, as Mam Tor via Cave Dale is fairly long and you might be tired after it.
If you like big rocks, then definitely do Stanage Edge. I found it to be the most impressive of the gritstone escapements. Again, if you don’t have much time in the Peak District (or you just don’t like big walks), you don’t need to do the full hike I did to experience it.
For more ideas of things to do in the Peak District National Park, other than walks and hikes, you can find out more on the Visit Peak District Website.