After a year of feeling shackled, the British public is now being allowed to head off and explore. One area topping many must-visit lists is the Peak District, and in this guide, we are looking at some of the things visitors to the area can experience in 2021.
Britain is known for its staggeringly beautiful countryside, and if anything, Brit’s are somewhat spoilt with what seems to be an over-abundance of breathtaking vistas. However, even with so much natural beauty to choose from, some areas are still vastly more popular than others, and one of these is the Peak District.
The Peak District was the first area in the UK to be designated a national park, and 2021 marks its 70th anniversary. In a ‘normal’ (non-COVID) year, well over 40 million people will head to it.
Official statistics show that visitors to the region generate a staggering £2.5 billion for the local economy while supporting 31,000 jobs. Sadly, the travel restrictions in 2020 have significantly impacted the area, and the region’s income could be down by a half.
One of the most significant benefits of a visit to the area is the chance to fill your lungs with some clean, fresh air and exercise the legs. The Peak District offers a whole host of lovely places for a staycation along with day trips where you can go walking, experience camping, horse riding, cycling and much more. Given it has an abundance of wide-open spaces, it also makes social distancing very easy.
In total, the Peak District covers an area of 555 sq miles. It’s so large; it extends to parts of Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Cheshire. Within this vast area are some of the prettiest and quaintest villages you can imagine. So if you’re a fan of photography, there are very few better places to go in the British Isles for that perfect shot.
Although some parts of the Peak District are still considered to be well-guarded secrets, more and more people are beginning to discover them, and this is beginning to show with even the Hollywood glitterati visiting the area. The cast and crew of the latest Mission Impossible movie and its well-known lead actor, Tom Cruise, recently chose a disused quarry in the village of Stoney Middleton for one of its major action sequences.
Without too much prompting, many in the know have already started to feel the benefits of a visit to the Peak District, and this can clearly be seen in the massive rise in the number of rural holidays being booked and taken in the area. Given the current climate, these types of holidays are ideal for steering clear of crowds and are a perfect alternative to busy cities and coastal resorts.
Stand-out places to enjoy a meal
It’s not only the stunning vistas and wide-open spaces that are attracting people to the Peak District; it’s also a fantastic place for dining.
For example, The George at Alstonefield is an excellent combination of fine dining and incredible scenery. Surrounding it is the White Peak area of the Peak District National Park, a wide variety of wildlife, lovely walking routes and cycling trails.
The George at Alstonefield is an award-winning pub-turned-restaurant that serves elegant British food in a relaxed setting. It’s also just stone’s throw from delightful hamlet Milldale and not far from the market town of Ashbourne in the Derbyshire dales.
One of the nicest aspects of The George at Alstonefield is its commitment to the local community. Where possible, it always tries to source the ingredients it uses within a fifteen-mile radius. The pork is reared with welfare in mind and comes locally from Mayfield (Pedigree Saddleback pigs) or from Ible (Gloucester Old Spots) reared at Ible. Its fish is delivered daily and comes from sustainable suppliers along the UK coastline extending from Orkney to Cornwall.
It also has its own kitchen garden, which supplies organic herbs and seasonal vegetables, eggs are freshly laid by their own hens, and honey is homemade too.
It will be reopening its doors on Thursday, 20 May. Three-course menus start from £55, and you can see an example of what dishes will be on offer here.
In addition to knowing one of the region’s secret -foodie-gems, there are a host of other reasons to visit the Peak District, including:
As we mentioned earlier, it is an amazing place for outdoor activities.
There’s so much to do. There are the more obvious activities such as walking via its 1800 miles of trails and, of course, cycling. But for those a little more adventurous, there’s caving around the limestone of the White Peak, potholing and the Pennines range of hills and mountains with its nature reserve Kinder Scout which at some points is more than 2,000ft above sea level.
Below is a selection of some must-try experiences:
The Bakewell Pudding
The Bakewell pudding is said to have been made by pure accident more than two centuries ago. It’s often confused with another well-known dessert called the Bakewell Tart. However, references to the pudding pre-date the tart showing that it is the true original dessert in the area.
As you’ve no doubt guessed, the pudding takes its name from the place it was born, the Derbyshire town of Bakewell, and its recipe is a well-guarded secret even today. If you want to experience an authentic pudding, the best place for this is the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop in the town’s square.
The Peak District’s Natural Limestone Cave system
The Peak District is well-known for its cave systems, and one of the best places to experience this is Poole’s Cavern. The cavern is a two-million-year-old natural limestone cave system that is more than 1000ft in length. It boasts some unique crystal formations and the region’s longest stalactite formation.
Visitors can enjoy a 45-minute tour of the cave system. Following this, they will have the opportunity to enjoy some woodland trails through the country park, which leads to Solomon’s Temple Viewpoint, which is a folly/tower and is the highest point in the Peak District. It is said that on a good day in clear weather, you can see for fifteen miles!
No visit to the Peak District would be complete without experiencing Chatsworth House. It is one of the country’s most popular country houses and is packed to the brim with history. Inside, visitors will discover works of art that span 4,000 years, with pieces from ancient Rome and Egypt. It also hosts a wide range of more traditional artwork, including masterpieces from Rembrandt and Veronese, up to more modern works from David Nash and Lucian Freud.
The Dovedale Valley
If you’re a fan of hiking, one of the most beautiful areas to head to is the Valley of Dovedale and its beautiful landscapes, limestone ravines and impressive views. We’d advise that you wear some good walking shoes and, if possible, waterproof ones as you simply must try the stepping stones!
Trails at High Peak
The 17-mile long High Peak Trail runs from High Peak Junction, near Cromford to Dowlow, six miles south of Buxton. The trail is suitable for walkers, horse riders and cyclists and meanders through the limestone countryside of the White Peak. One thing visitors will be delighted to know is that it is traffic-free.
The High Peak Trail follows the original route of the former High Peak Railway Line, which was first opened in 1831 to transport minerals between Cromford Canal and the Peak Forest Canal.
For more great places to visit in the Peak District, visit www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/home.