The Peak District is one of the finest national parks in England. It is mostly located in the midlands count of Derbyshire, but it spans five other counties as well. Its wild, hilly landscapes stretch for miles and are a hit with climbers, runners, walkers, and nature observers of all kinds.
The Peak District is thought to have been named by the Peaklanders Anglo-Saxon tribe. You can explore the history of the very first UK national park in the visitor centre and Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, but here is our guide to visiting the famous Peaks – starting with trailed walks through Dovedale and other parts of this leafy national park.
Guided Walks and Nature Trails
Throughout the year rangers lead groups of visitors, and the District’s own local walking groups, on tours of the windswept moorland fields and valley hills. The Peak District Service is keen include everyone, so they provide safe, easy routes for the disabled, as well as health walks designed to improve people’s health and wellbeing.
Advanced hikers often take on the challenge of Pennine Way National Trail, which is 431km (268 miles) long and crossed the highest point in the park – at 636 metres. Due to this mighty length and ascent, walkers may require an overnight stay.
A trail you can achieve in one day is the Derwent Valley Heritage Way along the riverside path to Shardlow, where the Derwent meets the River Trent. This beautiful rural walk through the hills and forests takes you up valleys and down floral meadows.
The upland Dark Peak in the moorlands has most of the unique birds in the national park, such as the northern wheatear and ring ouzel. Golden plover and short-eared owl are rare in Europe, so a European special protection area is in the place across the moors to prevent loss of species. Wading birds like dunlin, curlew and lapwing also breed in the moorlands.
Elsewhere in the park, more common British birds can be spotted. These are species of raven, falcon, grouse and common buzzards. The River Derwent attracts water-dwelling birds like wagtails, sandpipers, many types of geese and the colourful Mandarin duck.
Fish, Reptiles and Mammals
The Derbyshire Wye has a surviving species of ‘rainbow trout’, named as such due to its shimmering silver skin. Common trout, salmon, eel and grayling are native to the rivers and lakes, whereas uncommon amphibians and reptiles are found inland. Though snakes are rarer in the UK today, grass snakes and common European adders have been found in the grassy moorlands.
The only wild mammal found in England is the mountain hare, mostly found in the Dark Peak, but red deer herds are also non-generalist mammals, as they escaped nearby deer parks. It is not unlikely to find red squirrels in the woodlands, as well as European hedgehogs. The brown hare, brown long-eared bat and many species of rodent are listed on the park’s Biodiversity Action Plan as requiring special protection as they have become threatened.