Our pick of 14 best Peak District & Derbyshire winter walks and hikes should blow the cobwebs away. The rolling moors and tough climbs can offer some lovely days out and a break away from it all. 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 and slippy.
Best for: History – The Eyam 1665 plague. Check out the plague cottages and lovely little church in Eyam, both Eyam and Stoney Middleton are steeped in history
Distance: 8 miles, approx 4 hours
With plenty of pubs and cafes on the route for, this is good one with plenty of stops as its a little more difficult that other. You’ll pass through pretty meadows as well some paths. Take care along the track leading to the quarry as heavy lorries are known to pass through during the week.
Route and more information: peakwalking.co.uk
Best for: Lots of wildlife, including birds and looking to seek out fungi, mosses, liverwort, and lichens.articularly good for botanists
Distance: Varies – depending on long you stay, can be as long or as short as you choose
Walk over the reservoir bridge and up to the Ladybower Inn – from here a public bridleway takes you diagonally upwards to the wall which forms the reserve boundary. Because of the difficult terrain, visitors are advised to stay on the bridleway, which offers plenty of opportunity to enjoy this interesting reserve. This walk can be all abilities.
Route and more information: derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/reserves/ladybower-wood
3. Bamford Walk
Best for: Stunning views from the moor
Distance: 2.3 miles, approx 2 hours
For all abilities, this walk is an ideal sunny afternoon pursuit. The terrain is fairly easy but be prepared for a lengthy climb towards Bamford Moor – it’s well worth it though, as you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Best for: Pretty woodlands and one of the norths legendary cafes – don’t forget your camera
Distance: 2.3 miles, approx 2 hours
One of the more gentle Peak District winter walks alongside a tumbling stream, through atmospheric meadows and winter woodland. Padley Gorge is beautiful part of the Peak District and this short walk is well worth doing. 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.
Route and more information: near-chesterfield-derbyshire.com/padley-gorge-walk
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.
Route and more information: goyt-valley.org.uk/project/buxton-errwood-walk
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.
Route and more information: visitambervalley.co.uk/get-active/derwent-valley-heritage-way-long-distance-footpath
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.
8. Shining Tor
Best for: Views over the Cheshire Plain
Distance: Approx 6 miles, approx 3-4 hours depending on pace
There are a few uphill slopes along the way, and a mile-long section across open moorland, but the rewards are some stunning panoramic views. Parts of the walk can get muddy, so walking boots are recommended.
The path leads along Foxlow Edge, then a short distance along the old Roman road known as The Street, before heading along the ridge line towards Shining Tor. The path from the Tor leads all the way back to the reservoir, but I enjoy taking a detour along the small footpath down Shooter’s Clough, and on to the ruins of Errwood Hall.
Some great views can be enjoyed of both Cheshire and Derbyshire.
Route and more information: goyt-valley.org.uk/project/errwood-shining-tor-walk/
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.
Route and more information: nationaltrail.co.uk/pennine-way/route/walk-way-day-walk-49-kinder-scout-hayfield
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.
Route and more information: nationaltrust.org.uk/lyme-park-house-and-garden/trails/a-walk-to-the-lantern
Best for: Detouring to Castleton for a cup of tea
Distance: 3 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. The stone surfaced footpath from the car park to the top of Mam Tor will reward you with one of the most dramatic vistas in the Peak District. From the viewpoint you can see north over the Edale Valley to Kinder Scout and the Derwent Moors. One of the best Peak District winter walks, this circular route takes you round Mam Tor and has some amazing scenery – which look stunning on frosty days.
Route and more information: nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/peak-district-derbyshire/kinder-edale-and-the-high-peak/mam-tor-circular-walk
Best for: Limestone cliffs
Distance: 4 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 is a short and popular Peak District walk that includes some of the highlights of Lathkill Dale. It starts from the small Derbyshire village of Monyash (grid ref. SK149666) where limited roadside parking and a small car park are available. A longer version of this route can be found in walk 1146 which includes a longer section of Lathkill Dale together with Bradford Dale.
Route and more information: walkingbritain.co.uk/walk-3046-description
13. Ilam to Dovedale
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.
Route and more information: nationaltrust.org.uk/ilam-park-dovedale-and-the-white-peak/trails/ilam-park-to-dovedale-stepping-stones
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.
Route and more information: dalestrails.co.uk/Eyam
If you enjoyed our Peak District winter walks round-up, check out our ultimate guide to 24 of the very best Peak District Walks and Hikes with more walks to explore.