Hike the trails of the oldest national park in the United Kingdom before relaxing with a cherry-topped Bakewell tart and locally-made craft gin.Less
This wondrous underground cave has welcomed visitors since the 17th century, who followed a Wonders of the Peak guidebook to find their way. It still draws adventurous types today, thanks to the crystalline stalactites and stalagmites – thought to be millions of years old – looming at every turn throughout the caverns.
Deep underground in the caves of Castleton, Derbyshire, you can find a semi-precious stone that’s only found in this location – if you look hard enough. First, you’ll meet the family that owns and cares for this curious cave and learn about its history. Then you can go prospecting for the valuable mineral, before having a go at forging a few souvenirs made from the stone under the guidance of an expert.
Standing 1,696ft (517m) above sea level getting blown about by the wind on a ridge between the Dark Peak (gritstone) and the White Peak (limestone), it’s easy to see how this tor acquired its moniker: the Shivering Mountain. Wrap up warm and enjoy one of the region’s best-loved ridge walks, with epic views over the dry gorge of Winnats Pass.
William Cavendish inherited this castle in 1617 and lavishly decorated the house to entertain his aristocratic friends. Later, he added the vast Riding House, where his best horses were trained in dressage. To this day, the equestrian house remains one of the highlights of this impressive estate, which you can roam freely by booking in advance.
It would be remiss to visit the Peak District and not see the jewel in its crown. Pride and Prejudice fans will recognise the stately facade – home to the Bennet family in Jane Austen’s acclaimed book. Imagine yourself as a true English aristocrat while exploring the sumptuously decorated rooms, as well 105 acres (42ha) of grandly designed gardens to boot.
The Peak District is not short in supply of steep, craggy cliffs, so there’s plenty in the way of adrenaline-fuelled activities for stimulating the daredevil in you. Abseiling the arch of Millers Dale Bridge, for instance – suspended 262ft (80m) over the River Wye – there’s no more thrilling way to experience the Peaks.
Grab your map and compass, pull on your bobble hat and boots and scale the highest summit in the Peak District. The hike up Kinder Scout will lead you through beautiful scenery and on a clear day you’ll be able to see all the way out to the city of Manchester once you get to the top. Stomp through peat bogs, scramble up a few rocks, trek across moorland and admire the glorious fall at Kinder Downfall.
Buttery, crumbly pastry filled with sweet almond frangipane and raspberry jam, topped with a drizzle (or a slab) of white icing. The Bakewell tart is a very English-sounding treat – probably because it’s one of the country’s most time-honoured puddings. It remains the most famous export of Bakewell and pairs perfectly with a cup of tea. You can eat one, gift one and even send one home for when you get back and the fridge is empty.
A newer addition to the region’s attractions is this full-scale craft distillery, founded in 2016 on the former site of Johnson & Nephew’s Wire Works. Take a tour to sample the single-malt spirit and award-winning Shining Cliff gin, named after the ancient woodland in which the distillery is found. There’s even a Bakewell tart variation.
Animal-lovers flock here for the chance of coming face-to-face with some of the world’s cutest creatures. The large walkthrough areas provide a fully immersive experience, with penguins, lemurs and wallabies all calling this wildlife park home. Get there early for the chance to feed the wallabies their breakfast and then refuel yourself at the café, before choosing which animal you’d like to meet next.