The Peak District National Park is an upland area in England at the southern end of the Pennines. Mostly in Northern Derbyshire but including a small area of Staffordshire. The Peak District became a national park in 1951 and attracts millions of visitors every year. The Peak District is an ideal destination for outdoor activities, whether cycling, running, walking or climbing.
With the weather so changeable at this time of year we thought it best to wait until a few days before we set off to decide our new destination. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake as we had poor internet in Tewkesbury and a van filled with young adults most evenings. This meant that Nik couldn’t concentrate so well on the research needed. As the best weather was around the Peak District this seemed a fantastic idea. Bound to be loads of walking and hills and like the Lake District, little research would be needed.
We discovered somewhat too late that the Peak District gets rather busy on the weekends. Therefore, the northern area of the park was fully booked on all campsites. Be them big or small. This meant that our preference for walking from the van to something interesting was rather limited. So we were pretty lucky to find ourselves camped near to the Roaches.
The Roaches is a 505 metres rocky ridge in the Peak District. Popular with walkers, rock climbers and free runners. The Roaches are the most prominent part of a curving ridge which extends for several miles from Hen Cloud to Back Forest and Hangingstone. At the top, there is a small pool called Doxey Pool. According to legend, the pool is inhabited by a water spirit. On clear days, it is possible to see much of Cheshire with views stretching as far as Snowdon in Wales and Winter Hill in Lancashire.
As we’d ended up on another big site, we expected to be able to buy an OS map from reception. This is usually the case, and unfortunately, another one of our mistakes. Which meant that we were using google earth to find our way to the Roaches. As this is not the best way to find footpaths we ended up driving to the hill. Luckily, there was plenty of parking all along the road, big enough for our van.
It was pretty foggy when we climbed the roaches so we didn’t get to see much of the fantastic views. It was a Saturday though, which meant there were a lot of rock climbers doing their thing. The scouts were also using the hill for a bit of orienteering practice. Providing Nik with some great photo opportunities.
We had a great day, with an easy relaxed climb to the trig point before walking down the other side. I only had a couple of very small moments where I felt I was too near the edge. And, although this hill was a little higher than Cat Bells in the Lake District, I was much more at ease with this climb.
Nik and I have made a deal, to avoid overloading my fear of heights. If we climb a large hill (mini mountain), the next day will be a flat walk. So on Sunday, we walked to Tittesworth Reservoir. Which was about 1½ miles from the site.
Tittesworth Reservoir was created in 1963 by building a dam across the River Churnet valley. The reservoir is the second largest in Staffordshire and pumps on average 28 million litres of water a day. With the capacity to provide up to 45 million litres a day.
The sun was out when we left so we had high hopes for a fantastic day. Unfortunately, the sun soon hid its self behind the clouds again. There is a watersports centre at the lake and as it was Sunday we were looking forward to seeing little boats floating across the water. The main aim of the day was to enjoy a lovely walk to the dam. Taking pictures and have a picnic along the route. We didn’t think we’d manage to walk the 5 miles all the way around the outside. We do stop a lot to take pictures, and it would probably have been dark before we got back. As a bonus to the day, we found lots of lovely fungi along the track. Fungi hunting is one of our favourite autumn past times.
We then moved to Buxton, Derbyshire. Our campsite was in an old quarry, in Grin Low & Buxton Country Park. Sounds posh and expensive, but not really.
Grin Low & Buxton Country Park combines important wildlife and landscape features with an abundance of history. There is a beautiful 100 acre wood on the slopes of Grin Low. Planted by the 6th Duke of Devonshire in the 1800s to hide the quarry and lime burning. The area is now a site of Special Scientific Interest due to its high variety of plant life, animals and birds.
It didn’t take us long to move campsites, as it was only 8½ miles away. Which meant we had plenty of time once we’d settled in for a full afternoons walk.
We started with Solomon’s temple at the top of Grin Low, 439 metres. Set in the area where the lime kilns were, which has left a very interesting landscape. Solomon’s Temple is a viewing tower that was built in 1896 on the site of a Neolithic burial mound. With fantastic views from the top on a clear day.
We then moved on to explore the wood. It is on the side of Grin Low, and quite steep in places, but well worth an explore. There were stunning examples of Fungi everywhere we looked. It also seemed that there was a squirrel up every other tree, which kept the dogs occupied. Autumn is in full bloom here with stunningly beautiful displays from the trees. To add to our enjoyment, the wood is scattered with some stunning wooden sculptures.
At the bottom of the wood is a Go Ape centre, carpark and Poole’s Cavern which runs beneath the High Peak hills of Buxton. We had the dogs with us so couldn’t take the guided tour through the cavern. However, we did stop at the visitor centre and enjoyed a very nice cup of coffee and delicious cake. Not only were the staff super friendly and helpful, the prices were very reasonable.
Nik was determined that whilst in the area we would be climbing at least one hill. Not taking into account that during our stay, we climbed Grin Low three times to get back to our campsite.
So on our first full day, we went on a 5½ hour walk up-hill and down-dale. In an attempt to climb to the top of a lovely looking hill that we could see from our site. Unfortunately, the area we were trying to climb is under conservation with grouse living in the heather. Meaning that even on leads, we couldn’t walk the dogs off the main public footpaths.
Not to be put off. We followed the path around the base of the hill, where we were lucky enough to see quite a few grouse. We then continued on in a large circular route through farmland, several areas of woodland and past the Health and Saftey Laboratories, which was strangely interesting. Until we eventually found our selves back at the base of Grin Low hill, which we had to walk up to get home.
It was lightly raining on and off with poor visibility most of the day, so not many photos. Although it wasn’t the day we’d planned, we had a thoroughly enjoyable and somewhat exhausting day.
The dogs were showing signs of tiredness the next morning. So we left them behind for a day of rest while we explored Buxton.
Buxton is roughly fifteen minutes walk from Poole’s Cavern. Taking a route through Buxton Gardens or the Pavillion Gardens depending who you ask. Designed by Sir Joseph Paxton and Edward Milner and opened in August 1871. The gardens are considered a fine example of Victorian pleasure gardens.
The gardens had a wonderful autumnal feel when we walked through it. The park has old townhouses along one edge. This really helps to give the feel of what it must have been like in 1871 with ladies promenading in their finest clothes.
Buxton is a spa town built on the River Wye and overlooked by Axe Edge Moor. There are so many old and beautiful buildings in Buxton to see including Old Hall Hotel dating from 1670, The Crescent built between 1780 and 1784, The Devonshire Dome which was the world’s largest unsupported dome and Turners Memorial to name a few. At the time of visiting, the Crescent was undergoing massive renovation along with the Dome which was such a shame. Missed photo opportunities.
One of the things we particularly notice about Buxton is the friendliness of everyone. Neither of us can remember visiting an area that is quite so friendly and open as the people of Buxton.
Whilst we did thoroughly enjoy our time in the Peak District, we were slightly disappointed as well. This disappointment has nothing to do with the National Park, however. The weather played a large part in our disappointment. We missed out on so many spectacular views due to fog. Also, because we were making last-minute decisions with little research beforehand we didn’t quite get what we expected out of our week. We will go back. Probably in early summer and do our research before arriving so we get the best out of the area.
We’re off to Snowdonia National Park Next.
Pictures of our time in the Peak District
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