The Peak District and Derbyshire is one of the UK’s leading tourist hotspots, packed with visitor attractions and great places to go – but there’s some lesser known spots that are really worth a look, and whether you’re a local or not, the following places offer up something a bit different and somewhere you might not know even existed:
Run by volunteers and set within six former limestone quarries in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales, on the edge of the Peak District National Park, and close to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, The NSC is a 50 acre site of Special Geological Scientific Interest offering outdoor and indoor activities for all. It tells the story of stone and how it made our planet what it is today. You can take outdoor fossil trails and learn about how minerals were extracted from the earth and used to build the world around us. There’s a great visitor centre offering some fascinating objects and facts too. There is also a gift shop, cafe and outside picnic areas. Ideal for children interested in fossils.
National Stone Centre, Porter Lane, Wirksworth, Derbyshire, DE4 4LS
Tel: 01629 824833
Entry / Cost: Adults £2.50, children £1.50, concessions £2, family ticket £5 (other options also available for trails and activity packs)
One of 4 show caves in Castleton, Speedwell consists of a horizontal lead miners adit leading to the limestone cavern which remains permanently flooded, resulting in its locally unique feature. After descending a long staircase, the visitor makes the journey into the cave by power boat. Originally the guide propelled the boat by pushing against the walls with his hands but today they powered by an electric motor. At the end of the adit, the visitor alights the boat and walks into the cave to see the fluorspar veins, the stalactites and stalagmites, and the so-called “Bottomless Pit”. This pit is an extremely deep vertical shaft, now choked to within 20 metres (66 ft) of the surface by rock spoil dumped by miners. The original depth of the shaft has been estimated, from the amount of spoil placed in the shaft over the years, at around 150 metres (490 ft).
A connection was discovered in 1999 between the Speedwell Cavern system and Titan, the largest natural shaft in the UK, which is 141.5 metres (464 ft) high. A superb place to visit for all the family and picturesque Castleton awaits once you’ve visited the cavern.
Speedwell Cavern, Winnats Road, Castleton, Derbyshire, S33 8WA
Tel: 01433. 623018
Entry / Cost: Various tickets prices, from around £8 – £11 for adults, check website for full pricing details (can buy duo tickets to include visit to Peak Cavern)
The Secret Diner at HM Sudbury Prison delivers dining with a difference! Open from 11am – 1pm every weekday, the restaurant at The Secret Diner is operated and run by prisons, supervised by lecturers trained in catering. The dishes offer superb value for money where many three course meal are under £10. The food dishes on offer include lamb pie, lasagne, curries, pasta dishes, roast dinners and more – with everything homemade from scratch. All the dishes are made by prisoners working towards vocational qualifications and so by visiting you’re contributing to helping to make a change in their lives. Small and groups can be catered for if booked in advance. And the National Trust Sudbury Hall and Museum of Childhood is just a 5-7 minute drive away, which is well worth a look after you’ve had lunch here.
For more information and bookings at The Secret Diner, call 01293. 584000 and ask for Adrian or Gill (Lecturers)
Entry / Cost: Prices of dishes vary on menu
On the outskirts of Leek, this is ideally located if your visiting from Buxton and about a 30 minute drive away. This place is a has lots of animals you might only expect to see at a larger zoo. The Lemur Walk through experience has lots of different types of Lemurs to see including the classic Ring tailed Lemur. Penguins are here too with feeding times throughout the day. The worlds largest rodent is here the Capybara and then there’s the Patagonian Mara. And not forgetting the adorable Meerkats which are always entertaining to watch and Asian Short-clawed Otters too. There really is loads to see here and it’s absolutely ideal for all the family to enjoy with plenty for children to get involved with and learn something. Who needs Chester Zoo when we’ve have this place on our doorstep?! The whole of the park is accessible by wheelchair and pushchair too.
Peak Wildlife Park, Winkhill, Leek, ST13 7QR
Tel: 01538. 308880
Entry / Cost: Adult £10.95, Child £8.95, concession £9.95
Observe the the stunning landscape of the Peak District from the air! Helicopter Pleasure Flights run various flight which include the stunning Dambusters Run where you will retrace one of the Dambuster training routes flown by the famous 617 Squadron’s as they mastered low-level flying and perfected their ‘dambusting’ technique over the stunning scenery of the Peak District. The Chatsworth Tour is equally as breathtaking where you will one of Englands’s finest stately homes and the surroind area of Bakewell as well as Ladybower Reservoir. Do something a bit daring and see the Peaks from a different perspective!
Pleasure Flights Ltd, Oakdene Farm, Saddleworth, Greater Manchester , OL3 5LU
Tel: 01457. 877833
Entry / Cost: Flights from £110 – check website for full details
A petting farm housing an array of cuteness and perfect for all the family where the children can interact with the animals and learn about them too with petting sessions throughout the day. There’s fluffy bunnies, Alpacas, sociable Pygmy Goats and cuter than cute Kune Kune Pigs, oh and Tortoises too and of course not forgetting Archie the donkey himself and his other donkey friends. The picnic area is lovely with refreshments and snacks available, and, there’s space hoppers to play on too. This makes a great day out for anyone of any age, it’s guaranteed smile material. Actually it’s brilliant fun for adults and it’s not every day you have a chat with an Alpaca is it?
Tucked away in one of the most beautiful areas of Derbyshire just outside Hathersage, is this total hidden gem and something a little different that might not expect to see in the Peak District. Sheffield born David Mellor was trained as a silversmith and won numerous awards design awards for his cutlery as well being recognised as a key figure in British and international design. He passed away in 2009 but his legacy lives on through his son and at the fantastic visitor centre and design museum here. The cutlery continues to be manufactured here too. The design museum and cafe is a must for anyone interested or with a love of contemporary and modern designs; it’s fascinating to see the courtyard area adorned with street furniture such as modern lighting columns, bus shelters, litter bins and post boxes, bollards and outdoor seating which were widely distributed and altered the appearance of the street scene throughout the UK. If you’re interested in design, then do visit. The cafe is a really peaceful place that serve great food too.
David Mellor Design Limited, The Round Building, Hathersage, Sheffield, S32 1BA
Tel: 01433. 650220
Entry / Cost: FREE entry to Design Museum (jnside cafe)
The collection focuses on telling the story of the famous plague of in 1665 that took the lives of 260 residents of the village and this great little museum has much to see with some really interesting artifacts. There is also a lecture room for school children. It is small and you’ll easily have walked round and sene what you wanted quite quickly but while you’re here, you can visit the historic St Lawrence’s Church (which was standing during the plague), the plague cottages and enjoy a nice lunch or cup of tea in the superb Village Green cafe in the centre.
Eyam Museum, Hawkhill Road, Eyam, Derbyshire. S32 5QP
Tel: 01433. 631371
Entry / Cost: £2.50 adults, concession £2, family ticket £7.50
For a detailed look at what’s on and things to do in the Peak District and around Derbyshire, visit www.visitpeakdistrict.com