The Peak District
National Park is extensive and diverse and can be divided into sections known as The Dark Peak, The White Peak, The Staffordshire Moorlands and the Derbyshire Dales. The cities of Manchester, Sheffield and Derby are excluded from the National Park, its largest town being Bakewell
which is the capital of the Peak District
and contains the Peak District
National Park headquarters at Aldern House.
, which is often described as the cultural capital of the Peak District
is surprisingly omitted, the boundary sweeping almost 360 degrees to exclude it, and the towns of Ashbourne
and Dronfield also lie just over the border.
What the Peak District does contain however are lots of wonderful village, some containing chocolate box pretty cottages or character properties oozing with charm. Together with valuable housing, business premises, shops and village stores these villages in the peaks help to support the communities which live and work here together with the millions of visitors who pass through each year.
Centuries ago it was quite a challenge to travel through the vast tracts of uncultivated open land, moors and bogs so markers were erected such as the crosses at Wheston
. The routes of old drovers roads and salt ways can still be found like the medieval portway which ran north from Derby passing through Grange Mill
before leading north to Castleton
, whilst packhorse routes and holloways can still be traced around Glossop
, Thornhill, Wardlow
and the aptly named Holloway
Running down the eastern flank of the Peak District
are glacially formed Edges or escarpments, often featuring huge unusual shaped gritstone boulders with strange names. Some of these Edges take the name of the village above which they tower such as Curbar
Edge and Froggatt
Edge. Behind the Edges lie long stretches of high moorland which you must cross before you reach the villages of Barlow
, both commuter belt land for Chesterfield
The White Peak was named after the mile upon mile of limestone dry walls which divide it, with none more evident than those surrounding Flagg
on the other hand takes its name from The Royal Forest of the Peak which back in the 13th century was a wooded expanse in the north of the Peak District
where royal shooting parties would hunt deer, wild boar and even wolves. Chapel-en-le-Frith
was another settlement in the Royal Forest, its name meaning Chapel in the Forest.
is a more modern village in the peak, being established in Victorian times at a junction of railway lines which then led to Manchester, Stockport, Sheffield, Derby and London.
Villages in the Peak to the south of the region around Ashbourne
are dramatically different from those to the north, often with rosy red bricks, Higham
and Fenny Bentley
being prime examples.
The Peak District
contains several rivers that started life as rain falling on the high land and moors, the most important being the River Derwent which has three dams in succession within the first few miles of its source. After cascading over Derwent, Howden and Ladybower
, the river flows down the valley passing Bamford
, Matlock Bath
before it reaches the county capital of Derby after which it joins forces with the Trent.
The little river Noe has the Vale of Edale
all to itself before it runs into the Derwent at Shatton
, whilst the Amber which meanders through Ashover
has a valley named after it - the Amber Valley.
The rivers Lathkill and Bradford are said to be amongst the purest in the country and flow through nature reserves, overlooked by the villages of Monyash
, Over Haddon
, Youlgreave and Alport
. But one of the most famous of Peak District
rivers is of course our wonderful Dove, the drama queen of the dales which entices the most visitors to walk along its banks. Only the little hamlets of Crowdecote
, Milldale and Mappleton
can boast to be sited by its side, but Hartington
are but a mere footpath away.
is the jewel in the Peak District
crown, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Also owned by the estate are several villages in the Peaks including Beeley
and several properties at Wetton
The little peak district village of Hassop
is dominated by Hassop
Hall and Tissington
Hall which remains an estate village owned entirely by the FitzHerbert family. Wingfield Manor near South Wingfield
may now be nothing more than a ruin, but it survived many battles and for a time was used as a prison for Mary Queen of Scots. Her freedom was foiled by a plot thought up by Thomas Babington of Dethick
after which both of them met a premature death at the hands of an executioner.
Some villages in the peak are famed for a feature or nearby place of interest such as Crich
and the Cathedral of the Peak, but does anyone remember the sad story of the lone tree at Oker
on the other hand is famous for its scrumptious ice cream!
Customs and traditions abound in the villages in the Peak, many having an annual well dressing ceremony where wells which provided valuable water before the onset of the mains supply are blessed by a pictorial floral arrangement. Amongst the villages taking part are Bonsall
, Stoney Middleton
has a shrove tide pancake race down the village street and Castleton
has an annual garland ceremony.
There are certainly lots of Peak District cottages to choose from if you would like to come and stay.