22 Best Walks and Hikes in the Peak District & Derbyshire

Split between the limestone crags of the White Peak and the wilder, higher moorland of the Dark Peak, the Peak District is breathtakingly beautiful any time of the year and is temperate in summer so it’s not too hot to hike generally and if you wrap up well in winter, the landscape can look stunning when dusted with snow and frost. With so much space to lose yourself in – and an endless number of trails to choose from – it can be difficult for walkers to know which parts of the area to head for if you’re looking for a weekend walk to blow off the cobwebs; here’s our guide to the best walks in the Peak District & Derbyshire, with something for everyone of all ages and abilities. Route maps are include to help you out, enjoy…

1. The Roaches & Luds Church

This spectacular White Peak trek leads past the crazed gritstone formations of The Roaches escarpment, one of the Peak District’s best-known natural features. It is an area with links to Arthurian myths – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight are said to have done battle in the high-sided chasm known as Lud’s Church, which you will pass through – and the exposed, rocky trail is also a good place for spotting peregrine falcons.

Best for: eye-opening geology

Distance: approx 8km, 4hrs

2. Sett Valley Trail

The Sett Valley Trail, on the Manchester side of the Peak District, is a short gentle trail. The 2.5 mile walk, between the towns of Hayfield and New Mills was originally a stretch of the Hayfield to Manchester railway, closed down in 1970, which explains why it is an easy, level walk. Starting from Hayfield, it is less than an hour’s walk to the beautiful deep river valley of the Torrs Riverside park in New Mills. Overexcitable types can split off at the village of Birch Vale and head up Lantern Pike peak, with its stunning view from the summit of the elevated plateau of Kinder Scout and the beginning of the Pennine Way (the somewhat more demanding walk from one end of Britain to the other).

Best for: a gentle, quick blast of fresh air

Distance: approx 4 km, just under 1 hour, depending on enthusiasm

3. Kinder Scout 

Kinder Scout will always be associated with the mass trespass of 1932 when a group of ramblers made a valiant stand for public access to open country. The protest ultimately worked, and today this circular walk – up the rocky steps of Jacob’s Ladder, across the elevated Kinder Plateau and past the beautiful Kinder Downfall – is one of the finest in the Peaks.

Best for: experienced walkers

Distance: approx 16km, 6-8hr

4. Bamford Walk

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 and the starting point near Ladybower is lovely too.

Best for: Stunning views from the moor

Distance: 2.3 miles, approx 2 hours


5. Eccles Pike

Ascending to the summit of Eccles Pike rewards you with some of the best views in the Peak District. It’s a steep incline in parts but if you take it easy it’s fine. You can access Eccles Pike from Chapel-en-le-Frith (or Whaley Bridge if you wish) and a great way to do this walk if you’re coming from Buxton is to catch the train and walk through Chapel. It’s about a three mile walk from the train station/centre of Chapel-en-le-Frith. You follow the road down Long Lane from the station, crossing Manchester Road to Crossings Road and then turning left into Eccles Road and basically follow the road up until you see Eccles Pike on your right hand side where you can climb the style and reach the summit. The views are really quite staggering and at the summit you will find a topograph which shows all the sights you can see from the top.

Best for: stunning views across a wide area

Distance: approx 14km, 5hr

6. Ladybower Wood and Ladybower Reservoir Circular Walk

A good place to start is Fairholmes Visitor Center where you can park the car or if not on roads nearby. Ashopton Viaduct was built to carry the Snake Road to Glossop and the Ladybower Viaduct to carry the road from Yorkshire Bridge to the A57. The reservoir was opened by King George VI in 1945 and a commemorative monument has been built close to the dam wall. Near the end of the walk a few cottages are passed, sited on higher ground; they are all that remains of the former Derwent village. A superb walk for all abilities offering some truly stunning views.

Ladybower Wood

For the wood walk you could park at Severn Trent Water’s public car park at Heatherdene. Ladybower Wood is one of few remaining examples of upland oakwood in the Peak District. 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.

Best for: Lots of wildlife, including birds and pretty views across the reservoir

Distance: Varies – depending on long you stay, can be as long or as short as you choose


7. Mam Tor Circular Walk

This classic short-distance walk is deservedly popular, leading to the top of Mam Tor (the name means “Mother Hill”) before striking out on easy footpaths along an undulating ridge to Lose Hill. The visual rewards throughout the walk are superb, with deep panoramas of the Edale Valley. Mam Tor itself is topped by Bronze Age and Iron Age remains – so when you take in the view from its summit, you are the latest of many to do the same.

Starting and finishing in pretty Castleton, you’ll have plenty of time for a cuppa. Castelton Visitors Centre also excellent if you need some local information and The Castle pub on the main street is reputed to be one of Derbyshire’s most haunted pubs!

Incidentally, Mam Tor is also referred to locally as the ‘Shivering Mountain’ due to its frequent land slips on the eastern face. Caused by unstable layers of shale,  several major road works have been required due to movement and in 1974 large parts of Mam Tor collapsed after a huge landslide. The road passing up the south face – the A625, was finally abandoned in 1979 and traffic rerouted through the Winnats Pass to rejoin the A625 at Windy Knoll.

Best for: Undeniably one of the Peak District’s best views

Distance: approx 8km, 2.5hr

8. Hathersage to Stanage Edge

The Stanage Edge escarpment is legendary in rock-climbing circles and it’s a fine place to walk to with various options for scrambling if you’re so inclined. Begin in the valley below at Hathersage (famous for its associations to writer Charlotte Bronte who visited here regularly but also the resting place of Little John – Robin Hoods so-called right hand man). Head up School Lane northwards. Once you arrive at Stanage, ascend to the lip of the ridge itself and walking along its length, cresting the 458m-tall High Neb. On a fine day, the views are some of the furthest-reaching in the region.
Best for: ridge-walking

Distance: approx 7.8 miles km, 4.5 hours

9. Tissington Trail

If yomping up steep hillsides is not your thing, the beauty of the Tissington Trail is that it’s well surfaced and relatively flat throughout – much of the route occupies an old railway track. It is also popular with cyclists, and runs from Parsley Hay in the north to Ashbourne in the south, offering impressive views across the surrounding limestone countryside. Walk for as long as you feel like – great for either a long walk or a quick short one. You can start from Parsley Hay or Ashbourne where bikes can be hired at either end too if you fancy being a bit more physical. Don’t miss the picturesque village of Tissington with its quaint cottages, and duck pond. The southern end of the trail is in Ashbourne – another lovely Derbyshire town. The trail also passes near to Dovedale, a dramatic limestone ravine with stunning scenery, famous for its much-loved stepping stones which cross the River Dove – well worth a look.

Best for: an easy ramble to enjoy some fresh air

Distance: 13 miles

10. Buxton to Three Shires Head and back to Buxton

From the town centre of Buxton, walk westerly towards the area of Burbage. At Burbage, cross onto Macclesfield Old Road and follow this road uphill until it becomes a track. Climb the track and just before reaching the highest point, turn due south, crossing open moorland over the top of Axe Edge Moor. Continue following path which swings south-west and on reaching Orchard Farm, walk along metalled road, following the stream into the pretty Three Shires Head and Panniers Pool. From Three Shires Head, climb path northwards to where it crosses the Congleton road. After crossing road, continue north-west and then north along path over open moorland towards the Cat & Fiddle Public House, England’s second highest. From the Cat & Fiddle, head east on road, take the first turning left a short distance from the pub and descend into the Goyt Valley. At the bottom of the hill is the Derbyshire Bridge (old county boundary) Ranger Centre. From here follow the obvious path east, climbing back up towards Buxton and your starting point.

Best for: pretty waterfalls

Distance: 20.9 miles, 6 hours

11. Eyam and Stoney Middleton.

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.

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

12. Padley Gorge and Grindleford Cafe

Enjoy a gentle winter walk 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.

Best for: Pretty woodlands and one of the norths legendary cafes – don’t forget your camera

Distance: 2.3 miles, approx 2 hours

13. Buxton to the Goyt Valley

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: 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

14. The Heritage Way at Derwent Valley

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: 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.


15. Manifold Valley: Wetton to Ilam circular walk

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 across the Manifold Valley from Thor’s Cave

Distance: 10 miles, approx 3 hours 30 mins


16. Shining Tor

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: Views over the Cheshire Plain

Distance: Approx 4 miles, approx 2 hours depending on pace

17. Kinder Downfall

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: Kinder Downfall waterfall – spectacular if it’s frozen

Distance: 9 miles, approx 5 hours


18. Lantern Walk at Lyme Park

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: Red deer in the park

Distance: 1.7 miles, approx 1 hour 30 mins


19. Mam Tor

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: 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.


20. Lathkill to Monyash

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: Limestone cliffs

Distance: 3.75 miles, approx 2.5 hours


21. Ilam to Dovedale

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: A bit of everything

Distance: 2.5 miles, approx 50 mins


22. Eyam and surrounding moorlands

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.

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


For more information on walking in the Peak District, go to peakdistrict.gov.uk where you can find a number of further links and details on local walking groups and clubs as well as general useful information about the Peak District National Park.

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