Situated in the heart of England, between Britain's northern highlands and southern lowlands, the Peak District is a popular vacation destination, attracting over ten million visitors each year. The Peak District is made up of twelve major towns and comprises nearly 11,000 kilometres. A wide range of landscapes makes the area a favourite amongst walkers, hikers, and bikers. Additionally, the small towns offer an abundance of shopping, lodging, and dining options. There are also many historic houses, museums, caves, caverns, and outdoors to explore. Festivals, shows, fairs, and concerts come to the area throughout the year.
Because the District offers so many opportunities, it is important to design an itinerary of which activities the travellers most want to do. Some tickets sell out quickly during popular travel times, so it is best to book extra special tours beforehand. Sought-after accommodations and dining should also be reserved ahead of time to guarantee availability.
The Best Times to Visit the Peak District
In the U.K., as in other parts of Europe, there are three travel seasons, and when planning a short break to the Peak District, it is beneficial to keep these times in mind. Accommodations, restaurants and activity rates vary based on which travel season is chosen.
High or Peak Season
Mid or Shoulder Season
Low or Off Season
May to September
October to November
December to April
Warm weather; longer days for travelling; more attractions and activities open
Moderate temperatures; less crowded; less expensive; fall foliage is beautiful
Not crowded; less expensive; discounts and deals abound
Very crowded; possibility of very hot and humid weather; most expensive
Weather quickly changes; some attractions closed
Shorter days; cool to cold temperatures; possibility of snow; rainy season; some attractions closed, especially around Christmas
Often, planning ahead bodes well for those wanting to secure preferred lodging. However, last minute getaways can also be booked at discounted rates.
Lodging in the Peak District
There are several options when lodging in the Peak District. Those on a strict budget should check out the bunk houses and campsites. The bed and breakfasts, cottages, and hotels tend to be more expensive. However, prices do fluctuate depending on the time of year.
Bed and Breakfast
A bed and breakfast offers intimate accommodations with a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Bed and breakfasts are usually housed in large, old homes that have been remodelled to accommodate guests, and a limited number of rooms are available. They are personally run by innkeepers who often live at or near the inn. Often, the rooms are comfortably decorated and boast different, unique themes. One attraction of staying at a bed and breakfast is the breakfast served, which traditionally consists of a large, home cooked meal.
A hotel is a large facility that holds many guest rooms. The accommodations and amenities that hotels offer seem limitless. Some hotels offer rooms with balconies that overlook the rolling hills of the Peak District. Others boast Jacuzzis in the bathrooms. Still other hotels appeal to guests who are looking for a place that offers a free continental breakfast. Pools, fitness centres, restaurants, and bars are often found in hotels.
Another lodging consideration is a cottage. Especially during the low season, travellers can usually find a cottage or flat to rent for a few days. An advantage of renting a cottage or flat is that all the comforts of home are available, such as full kitchens, playrooms for the kids, and even washing machines and driers. Cottages come in many sizes, and travellers can choose the best size for their needs.
Campsites offer a relaxed way to stay within the Peak District. Depending on the campsite, guests have the option of staying in personally-owned recreational vehicles or in cabins. Many times, campsites have a central area that has a general store, activities centre, playground, and sometimes, a pool.
Bunk houses are found all over the Peak District, giving travellers a very inexpensive way to stay within the towns. Also called hostels, these buildings are usually dormitory-like in style. Several bunk beds are found in a large room, and guests share a community bathroom. Bunk houses usually do not offer anything other than the most basic of sleeping arrangements.
Travelling in the Peak District
There are several options for getting to and getting around the Peak District. Of course, guests can bring their own vehicles and drive around the District straightaway. However, during peak season, parking spots are hard to come by and many rely on public transport services. Public transport is reliable and affordable. Within the Peak District, visitors find it easy to travel by bus or railway. Each March and October, the Peak District Bus Timetable is printed and provides a complete listing of timetable information. Visitors may access this online or pick up at any Tourist Information Centre.
Attractions and Activities in the Peak District
There are so many things to do in the Peak District; in fact, it can be overwhelming trying to pick and choose just what attractions and activities are favoured for a family, couple, or group. Because a short break only allows for a few days in the Peak District, choose a few options beforehand to save time. The following ideas offer only a glimpse into all that the Peak District offers.
Between the 12th and 20th Centuries, many enormous and beautiful estates were built in the Peak District. These stately homes were owned by wealthy families, royal heirs, and business connoisseurs. Today, guests can tour the homes and take a peek inside Britain's history.
One of the most popular estates in the U.K., Chatsworth sits in the very heart of the Peak District National Park and is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Recently restored, the estate houses an expansive art gallery, full of priceless collections. Guests can tour the first three floors of the home and view 450 years of family portraits as they catch a glimpse into royal living. Chatsworth House was also featured in the 2005 movie, "Pride and Prejudice".
Often dubbed the finest example of a medieval manor house in England, Haddon Hall sits just outside the capital of the Peak District National Park. Although originally built during the 11th Century, Haddon Hall has been restored to reflect its former glory. It is now the home of Lord & Lady Manners, whose family have owned the building since 1567. Guests can tour the home and gardens; some guests may recognise the grounds from the movies, "Jane Eyre" and "Pride and Prejudice", both of which were filmed here.
Built for Elizabethan England's second most powerful and wealthy woman, "Bess of Hardwick", this Tudor-style mansion sits near Chesterfield. Guests can view the home's giant collection of 16th and 17th Century tapestries and furniture. The grounds also have a large orchard and herb garden. Rare breeds of cattle and sheep also can be seen roaming the grounds.
The Peak District has a rich history, and much of the past is preserved in area museums. Depending on the travellers' interests, some may be interested in checking out a museum or two while on short break.
Buxton Museum and Gallery
The Buxton Museum and Gallery appeals to those who enjoy geology and archaeology in its exhibition called the Wonders of the Peak Time Tunnel. The museum has ice age animal bones and teeth from local caves and quarries, a huge mineral collection, and a unique display of Ashford black marble. The museum also has seven environments for guests to wander though, including an Ice Age cave and prehistoric forest. Special events are held at the Museum throughout the year.
The Mining Museum gives guests the chance to experience the lead miner's world. This industry shaped the landscape of Derbyshire and brought wealth to many early residents in the Peak District. Guests are given the opportunity to crawl and climb through a maze of twisted tunnels and shafts to see how small and complex this underground world is for miners. A collection of photographs, informative displays, and models all detail the history of the mining industry in the area.
For those who like to ride on trains, especially the youngest visitors, there are several railways that offer tours of the area. Be sure to check out the Churnet Valley Railway. It takes visitors through miles of beautiful countryside known as "Little Switzerland". There are stops along the way where guests can check out unique shops. Some may enjoy the various theme nights on the railway, including a 1940s "Pie and Pea Supper Train" or a "Steam and Cream Tea Train". For detailed information of events, visitors should check out the Churnet Valley Railway's online calendar before travelling.
Caves and Caverns
There are several caves and caverns throughout the Peak District, and visitors can explore many of them. Each location offers spectacular views of these underground wonders.
The four famous caverns in Castleton attract thousands of visitors each year. Guests can tour the underground caverns by boat as they see what life was like for miners during the 18th Century. Or, guests can walk through the Devil's Arse and learn about the subterranean village of ancient British rope-makers who once lived here. In some of the caverns, musical events occur throughout the year in these natural amphitheatres.
After riding a cable car high above the gorge of the Derwent in Matlock Bath, guests should take a tour through the Great Masson Cavern. The tour leads visitors from the darkened world of a miner's life into the brightly coloured cavern. Next, check out the Great Rutland Cavern, which was once a lead mine, and experience the lives of the 17th Century miners who discovered these caves.
Peak District National Park
Within the vast expanse of the Peak District National Park, there are a plethora of outdoor activities. Adventurous travellers can bike, hike, or walk through the many trails. For those who wish, ranger guided tours and events are available throughout the year. Rock climbing, horseback riding, water sports, and caving are other activities that are popular in England's first national park.
For those seeking thrills, they should consider a trip to the U.K.'s top theme park, Alton Towers. A resort that offers hundreds of rides and attractions, it is an ideal attraction for many. Visitors should note that Alton Towers' main season only runs between mid-March and mid-November, so be sure to keep this in mind when planning a short break here.
Entertainment and Events
In addition to touring many sites, guests may also want to take in a show. There are multiple small venues throughout the Peak District, but for those desiring a more sophisticated theatre experience, the Buxton Opera House may be ideal. A traditional Edwardian-style theatre, it was refurbished in 2001 and boasts a variety of shows, including plays, musicals, dances, and children's theatre.
Dining in the Peak District
There is no shortage of restaurants within the Peak District. It is a smart idea to make reservations before arriving in the Peak District for some of the restaurants that offer fine dining. From Cheddleton's Castro Restaurant that serves Latin American cuisine, to Matlock's Stone Restaurant that serves traditional British meals, visitors are sure to find a wonderful place to eat. Those travelling with children should check out the family-friendly Italian restaurant, Va Bene, in Glossop. Or for a romantic trip for two, try the Rutland Arms Restaurant in Bakewell.
Using eBay to Plan a Short Break to the Peak District
When making travel plans for a short break in the Peak District, consult eBay. Shoppers quickly see that eBay is a valuable resource for vacation planning. Best of all, using eBay saves time and money.
One of the easiest ways to begin looking on eBay for your ideal Peak District getaway is to type in exactly what you desire in the search box on the home page. For example, enter the phrase "peak district". From here, you are presented with multiple search results as well as additional filters to narrow down the listings. If you wish to purchase event tickets, eBay also offers these at discounted prices. For a more refined search, use the Advanced Search feature.
When searching for your getaway on eBay, you are sure to find many suitable options from a variety of sellers. Through eBay's partnership with PayPal, shoppers are promised a safe and secure shopping experience. Booking your travel through eBay is convenient and cost-effective.
With so much to see and do within the Peak District, visitors may have a difficult time planning their short break. Thus, it behooves travellers to spend some time researching and prioritizing to ensure that they get exactly what they want from their short break whether it be touring a grand house or two or hiking through the trails. Taking into account the three travelling seasons helps guests when choosing a time to visit. Once a timeline is decided, shoppers can decide what types of lodging are most appealing. Choosing from quaint bed and breakfasts to large bunk houses are just two options that afford visitors to the Peak District. After a long day of touring, visitors have a host of restaurants to choose from, as well. If the time has come to book travel and tickets for a short break in the Peak District, check out eBay for a host of short break deals.