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22 Best Walking and Hiking Trails in the Peak District

22 Best Walking and Hiking Trails in the Peak District

Ready to strap on your hiking boots and explore the untamed beauty of the British countryside? You’ve come to the right place!

The Peak District, with its verdant dales, rugged peaks, and picturesque trails, offers an exhilarating journey into nature’s lap. Each path unfolds like a story, narrating tales of age-old history, captivating geology, and vibrant wildlife.

So, sit back and let us guide you through the best walking and hiking trails this stunning national park has to offer. Because every adventure begins with the first step, right?

1. Mam Tor + The Great Ridge

Distance: 6.8 miles/11 km

Walking Time: 3-4 hours

Ah, Mam Tor and The Great Ridge, the dynamic duo of the Peak District. If you’re looking for an adventure that’s more of a jaunty jaunt than an uphill battle, this is the trail for you. 

You’ll kick off from the chocolate-box village of Castleton, and before you know it, you’ll be treading the well-worn path up Mam Tor. 

It’s called the “Shivering Mountain,” but the only thing shivering here will be your knees, trembling at the sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.

Once you’ve got your breath back, it’s onto the Great Ridge. And let me tell you, it’s not called “Great” for nothing! Picture yourself strolling along a natural runway of rolling hills, every step offering a new postcard-perfect panorama. 

Pro tip:

Ever wanted to see for miles and miles? On a clear day, whip out your binoculars at the top of Mam Tor, and see how many landmarks you can spot! Who knows, you might even see tomorrow!

2. Bamford Edge

Distance: 1.8 mile/2.9km

Walking Time: 2-3 hours

Bamford Edge is a haven for those of us who enjoy our beauty with a side of gentle walking. But this particular trail is not about testing your endurance. 

Oh no, it’s more like a leisurely stroll through the park, if your local park was a vast, open moorland with views to make your heart skip a beat. And wait until you reach the Edge! 

It’s like standing on the rooftop of the world, with Hope Valley laid out before you like a green patchwork quilt. It’s pure magic, especially at sunset. I mean, who needs TV when you can watch the sun paint the sky with shades of pink, orange, and gold?

Pro tip:

Fancy a nibble with a view? Pack a picnic, find a comfy spot at the Edge, and munch away as you enjoy the scenery. Just don’t drop any crumbs – you wouldn’t want to upset the local wildlife!

3. The Roaches + Lud’s Church

Distance: 10 miles/17 km 

Walk time: 5-6 hours

More than just a quirky name, The Roaches and Lud’s Church is a rock-climber’s dream, with its jagged spine of gritstone cliffs and boulders. 

But do not fret, as you don’t have to be a mountain goat to enjoy the walk! Just amble along the footpath, and you’ll still get the same jaw-dropping views of the Staffordshire Moorlands and beyond.

Then, in a plot twist worthy of a fantasy novel, you will stumble upon Lud’s Church. Despite its name, this isn’t a church, but a mossy, green chasm hidden away in the woods. 

Pro tip:

The weather can change faster than a mood ring in the Peak District, so pack a lightweight waterproof jacket. You wouldn’t want to get caught in a downpour in the middle of Lud’s Church!

4. Padley Gorge

Distance: 3.6 mile/5.9km

Walking Time: 1-2 hours

Padley Gorge is a fairy-tale woodland walk that’s enough to make even the most indoorsy person want to take up hiking. It’s a world filled with ancient oaks, bubbling brooks, and if you are lucky, a few wildlife cameos.

As you meander through the verdant woods, you will reach the heart of the Gorge – a cascading waterfall that is straight out of a postcard. It is a peaceful spot, perfect for a breather or a quiet moment of reflection. 

And who knows, if you keep your eyes peeled, you might even spot a fairy or two!

Pro tip:

Bring sturdy, waterproof footwear. The trail can get a bit muddy, and while mud pies are fun, soggy socks definitely aren’t!

5. Wolfscote Dale

Distance: 5.4 miles/8.7 km 

Walk time: 2.5-3 hours

Welcome to Wolfscote Dale, the Peak District’s very own idyllic postcard scene. It’s all rolling green fields, dappled with wildflowers, and dotted with ancient limestone crags – like something straight out of a Jane Austen novel, just without the petticoats. 

As you saunter along the river, you might catch the local wildlife living their best lives. You will see sheep nibbling on grass like they are at an all-you-can-eat buffet, while the buzzards above glide lazily on the thermals.

Oh, and if you are planning on striking up a conversation with the local sheep, just remember, they are more interested in their next mouthful of grass than in small talk about the weather.

Pro tip:

Dust off that old camera sitting in your cupboard. You will regret not capturing this picture-perfect landscape – it’s the kind of place that could turn even a smartphone snap into a masterpiece.

6. Chee Dale

Distance: 3.1 mile/5km

Walking Time: 2-3 hours

Chee Dale is a hidden gem that packs a serious punch when it comes to natural beauty. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure kind of trail, where every twist and turn brings a fresh wave of “wow” moments. 

As you navigate the winding river path, you’ll be flanked by towering limestone cliffs that seem to touch the sky. Do not rush through it – take your time. 

Play a game of Poohsticks on the river, explore the secret caves (do not worry, no trolls have been spotted… yet), or relive your childhood on the stepping stones. Just remember, style points are awarded for every successful jump!

Pro tip:

Wear those old trainers you don’t mind getting a bit muddy. The trail can get a tad slippery, and while slipping on a banana peel might be slapstick comedy gold, slipping on a trail is decidedly less fun.

7. Dovestone Reservoir + The Trinnacles from Greenfield

Distance: 12 miles/19 km 

Walk time: 6-7 hours

Prepare to feel the burn with this one! The walk around Dovestone Reservoir and up to the Trinnacles is not a walk in the park, but the rewards are oh-so-worth it. 

Picture this: stunning views of the Dovestone Reservoir, a chance to catch your breath in the whispering woodlands, and then the grand finale, The Trinnacles. These three stone pillars are the gatekeepers of the trail, standing tall and offering an unobstructed view of the majestic landscape below.

Pro tip:

Pencil on a lunch date with the Dovestone Reservoir. The calm shores are an ideal spot to munch on a sandwich (or a cheeky snack) as you take in the tranquil scenery.

8. Dovedale to Milldale

Distance: 6.5 miles/10.5km

Walking Time: 1.5-2 hours

Here’s the thing about Dovedale to Milldale: it’s not just a walk, it’s an experience! Imagine treading the same path as ancient drovers and packhorse traders, as you skip from one stepping stone to another across the River Dove. 

It’s the best place where you half expect to see a troupe of Hobbits traipsing around the next bend! The journey is never dull, not with the dramatic limestone ravines towering over you and the ‘Dove Holes’ cave waiting to be explored. 

And then there’s the verdant woodland and sprawling green pastures, where you can try to outsmart the sheep (spoiler alert: the sheep usually win). 

Oh, and let us not forget the numerous weirs and delightful riverside paths that you encounter on your way to Milldale, a quaint little hamlet that looks like it’s been plucked straight out of a storybook.

Pro tip:

Bring a torch for the Dove Holes cave, and maybe even a few breadcrumbs. Not for the cave monsters, but just in case you want to feed the ducks!

9. Cave Dale from Castleton

Distance: 2 miles/3.3 km 

Walk time: 1.5-2.5 hours

Cave Dale is the ultimate ‘zero to hero’ journey, starting from the charming village of Castleton and leading you to a towering limestone valley that will make you feel like you are walking on the roof of the world. 

It’s a steady climb, but each puff and pant is rewarded with a view better than the last. As you ascend, you will see Peveril Castle standing tall and proud on the hillside, as if it is posing for your Instagram feed.

But the real treat is reaching the top and drinking in the panorama of the Hope Valley – it is a sight that will have you grinning from ear to ear (and not just from the relief of not climbing anymore).

Pro tip:

Post-hike, treat yourself to a well-earned break in one of Castleton’s cosy pubs. Nothing screams Peak District more than a hearty meal and a pint in a charming English pub!

10. Three Shires Head

Distance: 1.6miles/2.6km

Walking Time: 1.5 hours 

Three Shires Head, where Cheshire, Derbyshire, and Staffordshire meet, is more than a geographical wonder. It is an enchanting realm where babbling brooks converge, cascading into beautiful waterfalls and ancient packhorse bridges crisscross the waterways. 

The path is a medley of different terrains, taking you from rugged moorland to gentle woodland, keeping you on your toes (quite literally, in some places!). 

As you navigate the trail, you’ll come across the Four Counties Stone, the very spot where you can hop from one county to another – it is like playing ‘Twister’ with English geography. 

From frolicking in the streams during summer to capturing the frost-kissed scenery in winter, Three Shires Head is a year-round delight.

Pro tip:

Wear good waterproof boots for this hike, as the terrain can get muddy. There’s fun in a little dirt, but squelchy socks can be a real party pooper!

11. Chrome Hill + Parkhouse Hill from Earl Sterndale

Distance: 4.6 miles/7.4 km 

Walk time: 2-3 hours

This place is the Peak District’s own version of “Jurassic Park” – minus the velociraptors, thankfully! The twin ridges of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill are fondly referred to as the “Dragon’s Back” and you’ll see why as you embark on this adventure from the charming village of Earl Sterndale. 

These ancient limestone reef knolls, shaped like a dragon’s spine, offer a challenging but rewarding climb. As you conquer these hills, you’ll be treated to a cinematic panorama of the surrounding countryside – an emerald sea of rolling hills and meadows. 

The views are so breathtaking that you might catch yourself humming “The Hills are Alive”. If there ‘s ever a place to break out into spontaneous song, it’s here.

Pro tip:

Pack plenty of water and snacks to keep your energy up. It’s a bit of a thigh-burner, this one. Also, dragon repellent isn’t required, but a sense of adventure is a must!

12. Lumsdale Falls

Distance: 1 mile/1.6km

Walking Time: 45 minutes – 1.5 hours

If you’re after a fairy tale experience, the Lumsdale Falls trail is your happily ever after. Nestled in a secluded wooded gorge, this trail has a magical quality about it. 

As you wind your way past centuries-old mill ruins and mossy stone walls, you’ll half-expect to find Snow White and her seven dwarfs around the corner. 

Following the babbling Bentley Brook, you’ll encounter a series of cascading waterfalls, each more enchanting than the last. It’s the kind of place where you can’t help but daydream, perhaps fancying yourself as an intrepid explorer discovering uncharted lands.

Pro tip:

Wear sturdy shoes as the trail can be slippery, especially after a rainfall. And maybe pack a picnic basket. You never know, you might come across a troupe of hungry dwarfs!

13. Kinder Scout from Edale

Distance: 8 miles/13 km 

Walk time: 5-6 hours

Brace yourself for the Peak District’s crowning glory, Kinder Scout. Starting from the picturesque village of Edale, the path takes you up a formidable ascent, earning you bragging rights to having conquered the district’s highest point.

As you huff and puff your way up, take a moment to appreciate the wild beauty around you – the brooding moorlands, the gnarled rocks shaped by the elements, and the sweeping views of the valley below. 

It’s a place that reminds you of Mother Nature’s raw, untamed power.

Pro tip:

Bring a windbreaker, even if the weather seems pleasant. The winds up top can be quite strong, and while the windswept look might be in vogue, hypothermia isn’t!

14. Thor’s Cave

Distance: 4.7 miles/7.5 km 

Walk time: 2-3 hours

Ready for an adventure worthy of a Norse god? Embark on a journey to Thor’s Cave, nestled within the dramatic landscape of the Manifold Valley. As you follow the winding trail, every twist and turn reveals a new spectacle. 

Whether it’s the sparkling river, the craggy limestone cliffs, or the verdant greenery, it’s a true feast for the senses. Upon reaching the cave, you’ll feel an undeniable surge of excitement. 

It’s as if you’ve entered the lair of Thor himself, with the sprawling cave exuding an almost mythical aura. 

This huge, naturally formed cavern offers phenomenal views of the valley below – a sight so surreal, it feels like a slice of Asgard has been gifted to us mere mortals.

Pro tip:

Wear sturdy shoes for the climb and bring a torch to explore the deeper, darker recesses of the cave. After all, who knows what treasures Thor might have left behind!

15. Win Hill + Crook Hill

Distance: 9.1 miles/14.7 km 

Walk time: 4-5 hours

Ready to conquer not one, but two hilltops? Starting from the serene Ladybower Reservoir, this trek to Win Hill and Crook Hill promises an exhilarating day of highs (quite literally!). 

Every step takes you closer to the sky, until you are standing at the top, panting and sweaty, but with an invigorated spirit that is hard to put into words. 

The sense of accomplishment as you gaze at the panoramic views of Hope Valley from each summit is unrivalled. It is the kind of view that makes every ache, every huff, every moment of doubt worth it. 

So, if you’re ready for a day of adventure, camaraderie with fellow hikers, and a sense of achievement that lingers long after the hike is over, these twin hills are waiting.

Pro tip:

Don’t forget to pack a well-deserved lunch to enjoy at the summit. Nothing beats the taste of a sandwich when you’re on top of the world, trust me!

16. Lathkill Dale

Distance: 7.2 miles/11.6km

Walking Time: 2.5-3.5 hours

A walk through Lathkill Dale is like stepping into a poem. This serene slice of the Peak District offers a delicate blend of enchanting woodlands, tranquil meadows, and a crystal-clear river, presenting a picturesque canvas that could give Monet a run for his money.

Teeming with wildlife, you will share the trail with chirping birds, scampering squirrels, and if you are lucky, you might even spot the vibrant flash of a kingfisher. With every season, Lathkill Dale wears a new look, each more stunning than the last. 

From spring’s vibrant wildflowers to autumn’s rust-coloured foliage, it is a year-round spectacle that never fails to inspire.

Pro tip:

Bring your binoculars and sketchpad, you never know when you might encounter a scene straight out of a storybook!

17. Shutlingsloe Hill + Macclesfield Forest

Distance: 5.4 miles/8.7 km 

Walk time: 2-3 hours

Alright, let me introduce you to the “Cheshire Matterhorn”! No, it’s not as lofty as its Swiss cousin, but Shutlingsloe Hill brings a sprinkle of Alpine charm to the Peak District in its location near Macclesfield Forest. 

Tackle the steep, zigzagging trail, past wild moorlands and through tranquil woodlands, and your efforts will be rewarded with a 360-degree panorama that’ll knock your hiking boots off.

Did I mention the silence? It’s the kind of silence that’s full to the brim with whispers of the wind, bird calls, and the distant bleating of sheep. Truly a balm for city-sore ears!

Pro tip:

Pack a thermos of hot cocoa. Sipping it while drinking in the view at the top – it doesn’t get any better, folks!

18. Stanton Moor

Distance: 1.6 mile/2.6km

Walking Time: 1.5-2 hours

Ah, Stanton Moor – an open heathland peppered with Bronze Age burial mounds, stone circles, and the iconic “Nine Ladies” stone circle. Every step in this sprawling moor takes you back in time, making you feel like a part of its thousands of years of history. 

It’s a place that reminds you of the old adage – every stone does tell a story. And then there’s the view! On a clear day, you can see for miles around – a quilt of lush fields, dotted with grazing sheep and patchworked with stone walls.

Pro tip:

This place is full of hidden gems, so get off the beaten path. Who knows, you might discover a stone circle that’s never been documented before!

19. Higher Shelf Stones + Plane Crash Site

Distance: 5.8 miles/9.3 km 

Walk time: 3-3.5 hours

Higher Shelf Stones is not just a hike, it’s an homage to history. Lying among the rugged, windswept moors are remnants of a US Air Force plane crash from 1948. 

This sombre memorial is a stark reminder of the hardships of war, even in a place of such natural beauty. The trail itself is a stunner – vast moorlands that seem to stretch out endlessly, dotted with gnarled rocks and untamed patches of heather. 

The solitude here, coupled with the poignant memorial, makes for a deeply moving experience.

Pro tip:

Pay your respects, but remember to leave everything as you found it. And dress warmly – the winds on the moors can be bitingly cold.

20. Derwent Edge

Distance: 8 miles/13 km 

Walk time: 3.5-4.5 hours

Welcome to a walk on the wild side, mates! Derwent Edge offers a rugged, sweeping panorama of untamed beauty. This 6-mile trail is where the Peak District bares its wild heart to you. 

It’s a rollercoaster of a hike, with rocky outcrops, tranquil reservoirs, and the famous gritstone tors that stand like silent sentinels over the landscape. 

Trust me, standing on the edge, with the wind whipping your face and the vast expanse of the moors stretching before you, you’ll feel more alive than ever. It’s a raw, elemental experience that etches itself into your memory.

Pro tip:

Be sure to look for the “Salt Cellar,” a peculiarly shaped rock formation that’s quite the Instagram star!

21. Ilam Park Circular

Distance: 1 mile/1.6km

Walking Time: 1-1.5 hours

Ever fancied yourself in a Jane Austen novel? Well, Ilam Park is your chance to live that dream! As part of the National Trust’s portfolio, this trail in the Peak District takes you through the picturesque parkland surrounding a 19th-century gothic manor. 

The circular walk offers some charmingly gentle undulations, perfect for a breezy summer day. As you meander through the park, delight in its manicured gardens, quaint tea-rooms, and if you’re lucky, spot some deer prancing in the distance. 

The views are all about quintessential English countryside, and honestly, it’s enough to make Mr. Darcy himself fall in love!

Pro tip:

The tea-room at the manor serves a scrumptious scone – a reward well deserved after your walk. Pair it with a steaming cup of tea and you’re living the British dream!

22. Upper Derwent Valley

Distance: 1.4 mile/2.3 km

Walking Time: 0.5-1 hour

In the heart of the Peak District, where the River Derwent weaves its magic, lies the Upper Derwent Valley. This hike is a testament to the enduring allure of water in shaping landscapes. 

As you follow the riverside trail, you’ll be flanked by lush woodlands, rustic stone bridges, and enchanting waterfalls. The tranquil reservoirs of Ladybower, Derwent, and Howden add an extra dose of serenity, making this hike feel like a meditative retreat. 

From the reflection of clouds in the still waters to the enchanting chorus of birds, it’s a sensory delight!

Pro tip:

Check out the Fairholmes Visitor Centre to learn more about the area’s history. And don’t forget your camera, because believe me, the photo opportunities are aplenty!

Alright, that wraps up our journey through the best walking and hiking trails in the Peak District. Each offering a unique slice of this diverse landscape, they promise something for every kind of adventurer. 

Whether it’s the challenge of a steep climb, the calm of a riverside stroll, or the charm of historical ruins that draws you in, you’re sure to find a trail that calls out to your heart.

So go ahead, lace up those boots, pack your spirit of adventure, and hit these trails! Because as they say, life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. And the Peak District, my friends, is all about the adventure. Happy hiking!

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