Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read the full disclosure here
Whether you’re a beginner or have been hiking for years, the Peak District has the perfect route for you to explore. It’s a truly unique place where you’ll find families, kids, experienced hikers, climbers, and everyone in between.
But with so many different routes to choose from, it can feel overwhelming trying to find the perfect route.
In this guide, we’ll show you the most popular Peak District walks, as well as the shortest, longest, and most scenic, so you know which one to take first.
How many walks are there in the Peak District?
There are over 150 different routes in the Peak District National Park, and there’s something for everyone. From hiking the rugged limestone valleys to calm walks around the lakes and reservoirs, Peak District National Park is a beautiful area to explore.
The highest point in the Peak District is Kinder Scout, which makes this a popular challenge for hikers. Sitting at 636 meters high, it’s definitely the hardest route in the District.
Most Popular Walks in Peak District
If you’re not sure which route to choose when you visit the Peak District, here are some of the most popular choices and our favorite walks.
This is an easy 5-mile walk up Mother Hill (Mam Tor). The hill is at the edge of the Dark Peak and the White Peak and is 517 meters high. At the top, you’ll get an unbelievable view of the limestone areas of the park as far as the Winnats Pass dry gorge.
The entire walk has well-worn footpaths with relatively easy ascents. Kids find this one fun, so it’s great for a family trip, and there are some caverns to explore just below the hill, including Treak Cliff Cavern, Blue John Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, and Peak Cavern.
Hartington to Pilsbury Castle
Starting off this walking route in Harington, Derbyshire, you’ll take a 7.5-mile circular hike through the scenic county countryside.
The main attraction is the ruins of Pilsbury Castle overlooking River Dove. Built by the Normans in 110, it’s regarded as one of the best motte and bailey castles in the county.
When you get back to Harington, you’ll be able to visit the famous cheese shops in town. From the popular Harington Stilton to the rather aromatic Peakland Blue, it’s an interesting way to finish a walk.
Derwent Valley Heritage Way
This walk is a hefty 55 miles long. But if you’re looking for a multi-day trip, it’s easy to break it up into shorter walks.
Starting at the Ladybower Reservoir in the north, it ends in Shardlow in the south. You’ll walk through Derbyshire Dales, the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, and along the Derwent River.
With miles of wide-open countryside, impressive stately homes, museums, shops, and pubs along the way, this is an amazing route for a multi-day trip.
The Roaches & Lud’s Church
This 5-mile walk takes you through the twisted gritstone formations of The Roaches. Legend has it that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight battled here, their swords literally clanging off the rockface of the chasm known as Lud’s Church.
It’s a wonderful walk to step back in history while taking in the scenic views.
Hathersage to Stanage Edge
If you’re a Jane Eyre fan, this 9-mile walk is for you. You’ll start in Hathersage village, walk along the Strange Edge cliffs, and get to see North Lees Hall. The 16th-century hall was the inspiration for Mr. Rochester’s home in the book.
This walk is dotted with old millstones from the mills that were here until the 1860s, and have now become an iconic part of the District.
Family-Friendly Peak District Walks
If the whole family loves putting on their hiking boots and getting out into nature, there are plenty of family-friendly walks in the Peak District.
Ilam to Dovedale
This one is a short, 1.5-mile walk, but a great way to see the beautiful scenery if you have little ones who won’t handle longer treks. Starting in the grounds of Ilam Hall and ending in Dovedale, it’s a nice family walk to see the limestone of the White Peak.
You’ll get some gorgeous views of the Manifold Valley on the way. Bear in mind that this walk does end with stepping stones in the River Dove. Kids love it, but it’s not very accessible for strollers.
This is a 3-mile round trip starting in the town of Matlock. You’ll follow Bentley Brook all the way to the incredible Lumsdale Valley wooded gorge, home to mill ruins, huge waterfalls, and vast ponds filled with wildlife.
You’ll find plenty of scenic spots to stop along the way for a picnic with the family.
Sett Valley Trail
This is a one-way route that goes from New Mills to Hayfield. However, it’s only 2.5 miles so you could do it there and back in a day.
The walking route follows an old railway track and makes up part of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail (a much longer route). On your way, you’ll see the breathtaking countryside, breathtaking views, and you’ll even pass the Birch Vale reservoir.
It’s a flat, accessible walk and you’ll often see families with strollers.
Stanton Moor (Nine Ladies Circle)
This is a nice short walk that’s just over 1 mile and circular. It will take you over Stanton Moor so there will be some fairly easy rocks to climb.
On the walking route, you’ll get expansive views over Bakewell and the forests, and your kids can explore the Bronze Age ruins at Nine Ladies Circle.
Scenic Peak District Walks
If you’re looking for the best views in the Peak District and some great spots for selfies, here are the best scenic walks.
The Longshaw Estate
The Longshaw Estate is covered in heather and has superb views over the Derwent Valley. This is a good walk for all abilities and has a mixture of moorland and woodland to walk through. It’s relatively flat throughout and has panoramic views at different points.
This is another fairly easy walk that has arguably one of the best views in the Peak District. It’s a 6-mile walk but doesn’t have any steep climbs to reach Froggatt Edge or White Edge, both of which have beautiful views to take in before you end your walk in the National Trust car park.
This is the highest point in the entire Peak District, so it’s no wonder it has some fantastic views. The walk starts in Edale, and on your way, you’ll get to see some iconic sights, including Jacob’s Ladder, Kinder Downfall, Mermaid’s Pool, Pym’s Chair, and the Boxing Gloves – all on one route.
At an impressive 2,087 feet above sea level, this is a hard walking route with some steep ascends. So keep that in mind if you’re new to hiking or want something a little gentler.
The picturesque village of Cromford is a much easier walk for those looking for beautiful scenery without the steep climbs. Packed with history, Cromford is the home of the Industrial Revolution and still has Arkwright’s Mill (the first-ever water-powered cotton mill).
There is a scenic canal that flows alongside the village that makes it perfect for an idyllic walk.
Best Short Walks in Peak District
Not all the routes in the Peak District are day-long hikes. In fact, there are some stunning short walks that are great for families or if you are on a tight schedule.
These routes take anywhere from an hour to three, but can easily be done in a morning or afternoon. Having said that, some of them do still have rocky terrain, hills, and waterfalls, so you’ll still need your hiking boots.
Lose Hill walk from Castleton
Starting in Castleton, this is a 5-mile walk that will take around three hours. Castleton is a hiker’s hub, so it’s got great parking, shops, and pubs for before and after your hike.
From Castleton, the walking route takes you to the great ridge which has fantastic views of the valley and hills – some of the best in the District.
Bamford Edge from Bamford
If you want a great spot to watch the sunset in the Peak District, the Bamford walk is a good option. It’s just under two miles with a short, steep climb to the edge. Once you’re up there, it’s flat, so the perfect spot for a hot cup of tea while the sun sets.
It is a popular route because it’s short with a great view, so expect to run into other hikers at most times of the day. But there are plenty of spots to sit and watch the sunset.
Chrome Hill from Hollinsclough
This is a slightly longer circular walk that’s about four miles total. It will take you along the ridge of Chrome Hill which will give you a good view of Parkhouse Hill once you’re over the top.
There is a small steep section to climb on this one so you’ll need decent hiking shoes. But it offers some lovely views and only takes around two and a half hours to complete.
Baslow Edge from Curbar
If you want to avoid the crowds that are usually on the route from Curbar Gap to Baslow Edge, head in the opposite direction.
From Baslow Edge, this circular walk loops around, giving you beautiful views of the valley. It’s also a relatively flat route, so easy for all abilities. You might spot the highland cows on this route, among a wonderful mix of different scenery.
Chee Dale walk from Millers Dale
This is a 5-mile route that takes you along the Monsal Trail from Millers Dale to Chee Dale. Hiking along the River Wye, this is a magical part of the Peak District with green woodland and stepping stones.
This short route takes you away from the Monsal Head and across fields instead, which is a nice quiet route. If you don’t fancy hiking through fields, you can also just follow the Monsal Dale Trail back, which is flatter and shorter.
Middle Black Clough Waterfall Walk
- Distance: 2 miles/3.3 km
- Walk time: 1-1.5 hours
- Total ascent: 180 m/590 ft
If you want to see some waterfalls, this short walk is the one for you. It’s only two miles long and will take around an hour and a half, but it is a little out of the way.
The route takes you along the clough on a fairly rocky path, and there’s a small water crossing and a scramble – not the best for beginners.
But the waterfall is worth it if there’s been rain. If the weather has been dry for a few days, you might only get to see a trickle of water!
Best Long Walks in Peak District
If you’re looking for a nice long hike to make the most of a full day at the Peak District, these walks are some of the best choices. Ranging from around 12 to 15 miles, these routes are great for long adventures and overnight trips.
Edale Skyline walk
This is one of the most classic walks at the Peak District and a firm favorite with hikers. The route is 20 miles long and takes you on a circular walk around Edale in the Hope Valley.
It’s known as the Skyline walk because it takes you along hills and ridges that make you feel like you’re up in the clouds (and on a clear day, there are stunning views).
The route starts from Hope or Edale, each giving a different distance and ascent. Going from Edale adds another four miles to the walk, while Hope is the shorter, quieter option.
Higher Shelf Stones + Mill Hill
Starting at Snake Pass, this walk goes through Snake Woodlands and across Doctor’s Path through the moorland.
A total distance of 14 miles, you’ll go past the Bleaklow plane site crash of 1948 before walking to Lower Shelf Stones and onto Shelf Brook.
This walk has a real mixed bag of scenery and you certainly won’t get bored with so much to see.
You’ll eventually loop back to SnakePass via Pennine Way Path, Mill Hill, and Ashop Clough.
Pennine Way from Edale to Crowden
Pennine Way is a 268-mile national trail through the Pennines, often called the Spine of Britain.
This walk isn’t the full trail, but a beautiful 17-mile section from Edale to Crowden. There is very little between these two points, so it’s a fairly tough walk that will take a full day.
9 Edges Walk
This is an impressive 23-mile walk that will take you around 11 hours to complete. It’s one of the longest walks in the Peak District and a challenge for experienced hikers to take on.
You’ll start by taking Lost Lad and Back Tor up to Derwent Edge, which is the steepest part of the trail. From there, the ascents are fairly moderate, but it’s still a long, tough walk.
When Is The Best Time To Walk In Peak District?
You can visit the Peak District at any time of year, but each season has its own unique benefits and challenges you’ll want to consider.
The crisp air and bright sun in the winter make for perfect walking conditions. The Upper Derwent Valley is especially magical in the wintertime.
But the harsh weather of the winter can make the trails much tougher than the warmer months. Keep an eye on the forecast for rain, sleet, and snow – all of which can make them longer, steeper routes more dangerous.
Having said that, the District is beautiful when covered in snow, so the shorter walks are the perfect routes for seeing the winter wonderland in all its glory.
The entire Peak District bursts into life in the springtime. From the beautiful array of colors, the wildflowers bring to the newborn lambs, it’s a pretty time of year to visit.
There are even several farms in the region that allow visitors to visit their lambing sheds in the spring to see the babies being born.
Summer is the most popular time to visit the Peak District since it’s during the school holidays and the weather is at its warmest. If you’re looking to avoid crowds, avoid July and August which can see crowds on the popular trails.
There are a lot of festivals and events throughout summer in the Peak District, and the warm weather makes camping much easier and more enjoyable.
This is another great time of year to visit the Peak District. The autumnal colors are spectacular, it’s quieter than the summer months, and the weather is usually mild enough for easy hiking.
What is the hardest walk in the Peak District?
This depends on your definition of hard. There are some walks in the Peak District that are short but very steep, whereas others are long but fairly flat.
If you’re looking for challenging walks, try:
- Lathkill Dale and Bradford Dale – 12 Miles
- Five Dales From Monsal Head – 9 Miles
- Manifold Trail and Hamps Valley – 12 Miles
Kinder Scout is usually thought of as the hardest scramble since it’s the highest point in the Peak District, sitting at 636 meters. If you want a real challenge, this is the hill for you.
Where should I stay in the Peak District?
The Peak District is located within a relatively short drive from several major cities. Both Manchester and Sheffield are within an hour, and both have an easy drive.
If you’re looking for a base, Derby is your best option, since it’s the closest to the area.
Many tourists come from London, but this is a 3.5-hour drive, so you’ll need to plan to stay for a few days to make the most of it.
Learn more about the Peak District
For hikers and walkers of all abilities, the Peak District is a must-visit. From short, flat walks that are perfect for families to long, tough hikes that challenge the more experienced, there is something for everyone.
It’s hard to describe the beauty of the region, but the panoramic views from high up on the ridges and hills are not to be missed.
If you want to learn more about the Peak District, head to our Peak District National Park Guide for everything you need to know before your visit.