We know it’s pretty chilly right now in the Peak District and Derbyshire but the landscape here and the views on offer are just as beautiful in winter where the rolling moors and tough climbs can offer some lovely days out and a break away from it all.
Here’s our pick of 11 winter walks and hikes across the Peaks and the county that should blow the cobwebs away. A few we’ve picked are some of the lesser known walks and hikes along with some gold ‘ol favourites. Make sure you wrap up warm and wear good walking boots as some of the trails may be muddy.
Best for: Pretty woodlands and one of the norths legendary cafes – don’t forget your camera
Distance: 2.3 miles, approx 2 hours
Enjoy a gentle winter walk alongside a tumbling stream, through atmospheric meadows and winter woodland. Beginning by taking you through the Longshaw estate, down the scenery of Padley Gorge and a bacon buttie at the superb Grindleford Cafe. Incidentally, Totley Tunnel you can see from the cafe car park is the 4th longest mainline railway tunnel in the UK. Padley Gorge is just as beautiful in winter and when there’s less leaves on the trees you can see further across the landscape.
Best for: Industrial heritage / history – old coal mine shafts can be seen to the left on Axe Edge Moor, and, Old Macclesfield Road and Goyt Valley were once thriving communities.
Distance: 12 – 14 mile circular walk, depending on your route
This circular walk starts at Burbage, on the western edge of Buxton, passing along easy moorland paths to Errwood Reservoir, before returning to the starting point on Bishop’s Lane. It’s a fairly easy walk, with no steep slopes. But it can get muddy in places – particularly after rain – so walking boots are recommended.
It’s also the first that starts and ends in Buxton, so there’s no need to park in the Goyt. It’s only a 15 minute stroll from the town centre to Burbage. And there’s also a regular bus service which stops close to the start of the walk. Follow the link below to find everything you need to know about this walk.
Don’t forget to take a quick detour to the heart of the Goyt Valley to see the ruins of the Victorian mansion of Errwood Hall.
Best for: Reservoir views and water wildlife – look out for kingfishers
Distance: 55 miles in total
For those who are looking for a more strenuous challenge, the Derwent Valley Heritage Way offers a 55 mile route through the county of Derbyshire.
Stretching from Ladybower Reservoir in the north to Shardlow in the south, the walk through the valley offers varied scenery and a way-marked route. Passing through the Peak District National Park via Chatsworth Park and the breath taking scenery around the Derbyshire dales and Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, the riverside path continues to Journey’s End where the Derwent flows into the River Trent.
The Derwent Valley Heritage Way can be enjoyed as a long distance walk or as a series of shorter walks. Stay in local accommodation and enjoy relaxing rambles through the valley. Take a walking break and explore the valley from end to end.
Best for: Views across the Manifold Valley from Thor’s Cave
Distance: 10 miles, approx 3 hours 30 mins
This circular walk from the stone built village of Wetton in the Peak District National Park, explores Thor’s Cave and then continues down to Ilam Park, before returning along the opposite side of the River Manifold.
Best for: Views over the Cheshire Plain
Distance: Approx 4 miles, approx 2 hours depending on pace
Shining Tor rises to the West of the Goyt Valley, and, if starting from the shores of Errwood Reservoir, gives a good 300 metres (1000 feet) of ascent. At 3¾ miles, the circuit should take 1¾ to 2¼ hours at a leisurely pace (though if you’re slow on hills, allow extra time, as there’s a fair bit of ascent and descent on this walk). The route shown starts from the Errwood Hall Car Park, and essentially circles around Shooter’s Clough, visiting the top of Shining Tor (559 metres) before returning to the reservoir.
The views from the top are superb on a clear day. Looking out over the Cheshire Plain, you’ll easily pick out the hills of the Clwydian Range in North Wales and the Wrekin in Shropshire (almost 50 miles distant), as well as numerous local landmarks, including Shutlingsloe, and the large Lovell radio telescope at Jodrell Bank.
Best for: Kinder Downfall waterfall – spectacular if it’s frozen
Distance: 9 miles, approx 5 hours
Kinder Downfall is even more spectacular in winter if it’s frosty or iced over – but this isn’t a walk for the faint hearted and pretty challenging so check the forecast before you go and make sure you are fully prepared. You can start in Hayfield and leave the car there if you’re driving over. Hayfield makes for a nice cuppa stop before you head out. This 9 mile circular route will take you via a historic old packhorse route too.
Best for: Red deer in the park
Distance: 1.7 miles, approx 1 hour 30 mins
Beginning at the beautiful Lyme Hall in Lyme Park, this slightly alternative route through the park gives you something a little different. The pretty Lantern Wood offers lovely views across Cheshire and across over the Peak District and as Lyme’s red deer often spend their time in the east of the park, you might catch a glimpse. The views are far reaching once you reach the top and this walk should be a little quieter.
Best for: Detouring to Castleton for a cup of tea
Distance: 5 miles, approx 2.5 hours
Mam Tor is thought to date back as far as the bronze age and known locally as the ‘Shivering mountain’ due to the erosion on the now closed A625 road which passed directly underneath until the roads closure in 1979. A fairly easy walk to the top if you don’t have much time, the views across the valley can be stunning in winter. Go via pretty Castelton for a cuppa and through Winnats Pass which is always spectacular, especially with a dusting of snow. The walk is along simple well laid footpaths most of the way and the ascents are fairly easy.
Best for: Limestone cliffs
Distance: 3.75 miles, approx 2.5 hours
Lathkill Dale is one of the quietest dales in the White Peak. This is an excellent short walk for when you fancy something easy or only have a few hours to walk. This walk starts and finishes in the beautiful village of Monyash where you can enjoy a pint at the superb Bulls Head pub. Lathkill Dale is a typical limestone dale, flanked by huge limestones cliffs and teeming in unique flora and fauna. The River Lathkill that runs along the floor of the dale disappears during the summer. The walk takes you past rolling lush green farm fields then descends into the magical environment of the dale. It may look small on a map but when you are down on the dale floor the limestone walls looks huge. A great short walk with plenty of variation.
Best for: A bit of everything
Distance: 2.5 miles, approx 50 mins
This area of the Peak District – the White Peak, is famous for its limestone geology and wildlife. It’s an easy walk so again if you’re stuck for time or don’t want to be out in the cold too long, this is ideal. Beginning at Ilam Park / Ilam Hall, you might want to have a little look round the grand Ilam Hall grounds, home to a lovely cafe and the chapel in the park is a worth a look too. You’ll pass through Ilam village before venturing into possibly muddy fields with some great views across to Manifold Valley. Finishing at the stepping stones in Dovedale, this is arguably one of the most scenic areas of the Peak District. The stepping stones may not be suitable to walk on if it’s frosty or icy, so do take care underfoot, either way the valley is lovely in Dovedale.
Best for: History – you’ll pass the locations of the Plague Stones on the village boundary as well the plague cottages in the village itself
Distance: 9 miles, approx 4 hours
If you’re up for more of a challenging walk then check out Eyam, an historic plague village dating back to the 17th century. Explore the strenuous terrain over nine miles of moorland paths and fields. It’s thought to take around four hours to complete but the views, and the rewarding pub lunch at the end, make it all worthwhile. You can always take a detour into Eyam church, a fascinating place to visit.