As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to the Peak District, Florence Fortnam picks out a selection of castles, award-winning galleries, wonderful outdoor activity centres and other family days out in this glorious National Park in central England.
Covering some 550 square miles, the Peak District National Park has plenty of space for all manner of attractions. Visit one of the outdoor activity centres and take part in any number of environmentally-minded courses and sessions, or spend a day exploring one of the many cultural and historical spaces, ranging from Peveril Castle to Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. You'll also be able to make the most of the Peak District's sustainable shops, selling everything from eco jewellery and clothing to bespoke works of art and specially-designed furniture made from local wood.
Home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire since the 15th Century, Chatsworth House one of Britain's best loved historic houses, filled with stunning architecture, famous art works and traditional detailing (including a beautifully restored oak staircase). Fronted by the River Derwent, the 1000 acre park boasts 105 acres of picturesque gardens, fountains, restaurants, award-winning farm shops and cafes, as well as an adventure playground and working farm. With something for everyone, a holiday in the Peak District really wouldn't be complete without a visit to Chatsworth House. How to get here by public transport: Take a train to Sheffield Railway Station. From there, take the 218 bus which will drop you directly to Chatsworth. Route 680 on the National Cycle Network passes fairly close to Chatsworth. chatsworth.org
Undoubtedly one of the Peak District's top visitor attractions, and quite rightly so. This fortified medieval manor dates right back to the 12th Century and is the home of Lord and Lady Edward Manners, whose family have lived here since 1567. Having welcomed visitors for hundreds of years, the Hall is set within a stunning organic parkland and often practices methods from Tudor times, reducing its impact on the environment. Guests will enjoy the range of locally produced food on offer at the restaurant, which is located in the 17th Century stable block. How to get here by public transport: Matlock Railway station is 5 miles away. From there, take the TransPeak bus service to Bakewell. A short walk will bring you to Haddon Hall. haddonhall.co.uk
The museum tells the story of the local history of the Bakewell area, all of which is housed in a building that dates back as far as Henry VIII's reign and whose ten beamed rooms boast impressive Tudor fireplaces. The fascinating collection includes costume exhibitions, children's toys a Victorian kitchen, early photography, textiles, and samplers. There's now also the chance to explore the New Industrial Gallery and courtyard. How to get here by public transport: The nearest railway station is Grindleford. From there, take the 240 bus to Bakewell. Route 680 on the National Cycle Network passes through Bakewell. oldhousemuseum.org.uk
This unique, Grade II listed historic roller flour mill is one of a group of mills that has stood on this site for the last 400 years, powered by water from the River Wye. There's also a small mill shop where you can buy a selection of oats and flour, as well as local recipe books. How to get here by public transport: The nearest railway station is Matlock. From there, take the TransPeak bus service to Rowsley. caudwellsmill.co.uk
Discover the fascinating world of the Derbyshire miner, men who toiled in cramped and dangerous conditions in order to extract lead ore from beneath the ground. You'll get to see the tools they used, as well as the advances in technology that have changed the way the mineral is extracted. You can even climb and crawl your way through a maze of tunnels and shafts before discovering the area's history that dates back over 2000 years to Roman times. How to get here by public transport: The nearest station is Matlock Bath. The museum is only a ten minute walk from the station. The TransPeak bus service also stops directly outside the museum. peakmines.co.uk
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery
Come and discover the geology, archeology and history of the Peak District with a trip to the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. Some of the top exhibitions include a collection of Ice Age animal bones and teeth from Peak District caves and quarries, a local fine art collection, a collection of Carboniferous limestone fossils and the archives and libraries of geologist Professor Sir William Boyd Dawkins. All collections are displayed in the award-winning 'Wonders of the Peak' time tunnel. derbyshire.gov.uk/buxton
Standing high above the picturesque village of Castleton right at the heart of the Peak District, Peveril Castle was first built by Henry II in 1176 and is one of England’s earliest Norman fortresses. Itm ight be a bit of trek to the top of the hill, but it'll be well worth it once you're enjoying stunning views out over the Hope Valley. Take a wander through the ruins of the keep, or head over to the visitor centre where you'll learn all about Peveril and its history as a royal hunting preserve since the 11th century. How to get here by public transport:
The nearest railway station is Hope, which is just 1 mile away. You can walk, or take a bus such as the 272 which will drop you off around the corner from the castle entrance.
Discover Buxton Tours
Experience a wonderfully witty and informative tour of Buxton aboard a miniature vintage-style electric tram called Wonder of the Peak, converted by local tradesmen from an old milk float! This green attraction allows less able people to see and experience Buxton, past and present. A local electronics company has undertaken a study of the tram, measuring its energy use and comparing it favourably to a similar diesel vehicle. discoverbuxton.co.uk
This award-winning farm in Wildboarclough offers a fantastic nature trail that eventually splits into two, providing an easier route for families and a tougher stretch for more seasoned walkers. The advanced trail involves a slight incline and a trek along a wood where you'll be able to look out over the surrounding countryside. Both trails are also great for budding wildlife watchers, while younger visitors will have the change to encounter lamb, sheep and cows, as well as to visit the Hilly Billy ice cream parlour, which uses milk from the farm's own dairy herd. blazefarm.com
Dove Valley Centre
Surrounded by flora and wildlife, this farm in the spectacular upper Dove Valley has sustainably converted barns sleeping up to 12. The two cottages have been beautifully renovated with exposed roof timbers, wood burning stoves and Dove Valley views in all directions. The eco-converted Haybarn Studio is the base for arts and crafts and environmental courses and events allowing guests to take part in a range of rural crafts courses, from jewellery making to a fantastic 'Biodiversity Day', run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. How to get here by public transport: The closest railway station is Buxton. From the station, take the 442 bus to Ashbourne bus station and take the Swift bus service to Lower Ellastone. The farm is just along Dove Street and then left onto Mill. Lane. dovevalleycentre.co.uk
Run by a dedicated team of green-fingered (and green-minded) horticulturists, Peak Organics offers knowledge, skills and experience of organic gardening through a range of workshops and drop-in sessions. These sessions range from a 'Practical Garden Course', which teaches the basic principles of organic horticulture and sustainable gardening, to 'Compost, Worms and your Soil', where you can learn all about worm composting. This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to get to know more about sustainable gardening techniques. peakorganics.org.uk
Walls for the Future Ltd
Run by four DSWA/LANTRA accredited trainers, Walls for the Future offers a range of training and courses aimed at teaching the art of dry stone walling. Each of the tutors is passionate about their craft and will endeavour to teach students not jsut about walling itself, but how it can benefit the Peak District in the long term. A high level of training is provided, aimed particularly at beginners, schools, corporate training and working wallers. wallsforthefuture.co.uk
The Peak District countryside offers fantastic inspiration for Sally's range of knitted and felted interiors products. The soft, luxurious wool from her pedigree flock of Icelandic sheep comes in a range of natural colours, which she uses as a backdrop to the heathery or autumnul tints of the moors. dewsnapswoollens.co.uk
Brough Lea Farm Peak Yarns and Fibres
Brough Lea Farm Peak Yarns and Fibres have a holistic approach to their business which brings together sheep farming and traditional rural wool crafts. Their yarns add value to the wool from their own sheep, which in turn supports a farming model based on good environmental and conservation practice. They also contribute to a vibrant community of local crafts people by trading wool and sharing skills with other local farmers, spinners and weavers. broughleafarm.com
For information on nearby characterful places to stay, local food and drink, and outdoor activities, see our Green Traveller's Guide to the Peak District