View of Mam Tor, Peak District National Park

View of Mam Tor, Peak District National Park

Photo by Evilbish, Wikimedia Creative Commons

Peak District- The High Road

Panoramic view from Peak District of Buxton - Photo by Onofre_Bouvila, Wikimedia Creative CommonsPanoramic view from Peak District of Buxton - Photo by Onofre_Bouvila, Wikimedia Creative Commons

This loop around the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire takes in not only the stunning scenery that the area has to offer, but also some charming english villages ready to welcome the nomadic tourist with a pie and pint at the local pub. this 4-hour loop can be UK campervan hire day trip, or you could take a few days and really explore the area.

Pick-up for this area can be made at Manchester Airport, and the town of Buxton is a great spot to start on this route. This ancient spa town is home to a the particularly beautiful Edwardian Opera House with a remarkable gold-leaf interior. Head south from here across the moors to Leek. A nice detour is to take the A54 to Wincle, a very small village, and then some country backroads to Leek- the driving enthusiasts will appreciate the british countryside experience!

Buxton Opera House

by Smabs Sputzer Flickr Creative Commons

From Leek, Thorncliffe road will take you to Thorncliffe village, and follow the signs across the moors to Warslow, Alstonefield and then Ashbourne. These picturesque villages are off the main routes, so just ask if you find yourself lost- it’s part of the fun! Ashbourne has some great antique shops, and is also a great base for hiking in the Peaks. The Tissington trail and the High Peak trail both begin here.

Tissington Trail

by Andrew Bowden Flickr Creative Commons

Wirkswirth is the next town on the loop, and to get there take B5035 past Carsington Water, a reservoir in the River Derwent which is very popular for leisure activities which require water. Sailing is quite a tradition on the lakes and reservoirs in the area, and Carsington is no exception! Fishing and birdwatching are also favourite pastimes here.

From the good-sized market town of Wirkswirth, head north on the B5036 and A6 to Matlock, another spa town. There is even a hydro health centre dating back to 1853! From here, take the B5057 and B5056 through Winster and some beautiful high countryside. This route, continuing to Pilsley on the A6 and  then Chatsworth Road, also passes Haddon Hall and Chatsworth House. Parts of Haddon House date right back to the 12th century, and it has been described as the most romantic of all the houses to have survived from the Middle Ages. Chatsworth House is a beautiful manor house and grounds- a perfect place for a picnic.

Haddon Hall

by Shaun Dunphy Flickr Creative Commons

After Pilsley, head to Bakewell on the A619. This is home of the famous Bakewell tarts, and is a lovely spot for riverside walks. There is also a weekly market and it is another base for walks in the Peaks.

Bakewell Tart

by Bob Peters Flickr Creative Commons

Hathersage is next on the route, via Hassop Road and B6001. Attractions to see here include North Lees Hall, which is widely believed to be the inspiration for Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre, as Charlotte Bronte stayed at the Hathersage vicarage whilst writing the book. The grave of “Little John” of Robin Hood fame is also believed to lie in the cemetery in the churchyard.

Little John’s Grave

by Sarah Glover

There is a reservoir with surrounding woods not far past Hathersage on the A6013 then A57. Two villages were flooded to create this Ladybower which is now a popular tourist location- thankfully the residents were first relocated! The Royal Airforce Squadron known as the Dambusters trained at the Reservoir and the ones above it for their bombing raids on German dams in World War II.

After the reservoir comes some of the most spectacular driving on this route, as the road ascends to the Snake Pass across some of the highest peaks of the area, then descends to the former mill town of Glossop. Be prepared for twists and turns as the road negotiates the countryside, and also for great views, including some of the city of Manchester as the road descends.

View from the Snake Pass

by Peer Lawther Flickr Creative Commons

Glossop is a commuter town for Manchester, but also popular with visitors for its proximity to the Peak District and the great shopping opportunities in its retail district. The A624 and A6 lead back to Buxton, completing the loop.







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