Stretching our legs in the Peak District

In one final look back at 2021 highlights (after the Scotland road trip blog bombardment), I wanted to share some photographs from probably my favourite week of the year. Back in late May, we escaped London for a week in the Peak District. We spent almost every waking hour outside enjoying the most glorious weather and beautiful landscapes, and the week cemented my love of the region (and initiated a continual refresh of RightMove as I imagine leaving the city for the Peaks!).

We based ourselves in the gorgeous village of Tideswell which was an ideal location for the week – close to lots of sites and with some rather lovely cafes (as shown below with Sophie’s brilliant breakfast on our first day!)

We were joined for part of the week by our good friend Jo which was a bonus as we had a chance to properly catch up during our lovely long hikes.

Here’s what we packed into seven days in Derbyshire.

Day 1: Circular walk from Tideswell

We started out staying local to our village, doing an 11km circular walk from Tideswell (very similar to this route, but starting and finishing in Tideswell, not Litton). We passed through gorgeous villages, one complete with stocks where we were tempted to leave the children!!

But mostly we were away from buildings and people, following pretty footpaths across fields:

We walked through rocky dales.

And we followed pristine rivers.

I loved the route so much, I got up early the next morning and ran it by myself – over the hour, I only saw a handful of people and dogs. Just perfect.

Day 2: Stanage Edge from Hathersage

We were joined by Jo for our second walk, along Stanage Edge from the larger village of Hathersage. Clearly a popular tourist hot spot, it was tricky to park and there were so many people exploring the little shops and cafes along the main street – but it only took a few minutes to escape the crowds and get back out into the stunning landscape.

It was surprisingly hot, and the kids dragged their feet a bit as the path climbed upwards – but as soon as they hit the rocks, they were off running and scrambling (and doing the dab!)

We enjoyed the views along the Edge, while the children climbed and jumped. Look at those blue skies!

Poor Sophie had a bit of a mishap when she slipped and fell headfirst into a peat bog! She had to spend much of the rest of the day with mud matted in her hair as we had limited water/tissues to clean her up – but she didn’t seem to mind. It was hard not to laugh!

It was a welcome relief to get into the shade of the bluebell woods after so long walking in the blazing sun.

Day 3: Cycling the Monsal Trail

We opted to hire bikes on our third day and tackle the famous Monsal Trail, an 8.5 mile traffic free route following a former railway line.

It was easy, family friendly cycling and the miles sped by.

It was particularly fun cycling through railway tunnels, some of which were really quite long!

We locked up the bikes to climb up to get a good view of the viaduct at Monsal Head – an iconic Peak District view.

We enjoyed lunch at Hassop Station, before cycling back along the trail to return our bikes.

We were all hot after the bike ride, so we headed back to Tideswell Dale to let the kids have a paddle. They took it a bit further, stripping off and braving the freezing water!

Day 4: The Roaches

On Jo’s last day with us, we headed into Staffordshire to walk on The Roaches, a gritstone ridge. It was another long climb up to the ridge, but we loved the rock formations (and the kids, of course, got in as much scrambling as they could along the way!)

As we got higher up onto the ridge, we could see views for miles. Here’s family Agar having made it to the top!

And here’s me, Jo and the kids in remarkably well coordinated outfits!

I never tire of the bizarre rock formations in this region – you can see why the Peak District is so popular for climbers and scramblers!

Here’s Alex surveying the incredible views. It was so hot – hard to imagine as I write this on a frosty January morning!

Alex snapped us at the trig point – loving Sophie’s pose:

After the long ridge walk, we descended into Lud’s Church – a welcome relief from the heat! A mossy chasm in the rock, Lud’s Church is fascinating because in the 15th century people worshipped here in secret to avoid persecution. There’s also a story that Robin Hood and Friar Tuck hid here!

It certainly has the scale and drama of a cathedral!

Day 5: Burbage Rocks

After our long, hot hike on the Roaches, we took it slightly easier on day 5, revisiting one of our favourite spots in the Peaks – Burbage Rocks (we visited a couple of times back in 2020). The kids adore the scrambling and jumping, so we easily whiled away some time in the sunshine.

After a healthy amount of scrambling, we walked down towards the National Trust Longshaw Estate for a pub lunch.

And more paddling in freezing cold streams (them not us, although I did dabble my toes in!)

Day 6: Cycling the Tissington Trail

We chose to spend our last full day in the Peaks back on bikes, this time cycling part of the Tissington Trail, another former railway line turned traffic free route. For the first time in the week, the weather was cloudy, but it was still warm and dry. This route was quite a bit quieter than the more famous Monsal Trail so we were able to cycle without dodging dogs and pedestrians!

We did, of course, have to stop and greet the locals whenever we had an opportunity!

We found a brilliant picnic spot (with one final scrambling opportunity for the children – they both made light work of climbing up these cliffs!)

After lunch, we headed back to return our bikes, cycling back along a section of the High Peak Trail. The network of traffic free routes in the Peak District is just excellent – so family friendly and well maintained (and the quality of the bike hire was also great!).

After all the week’s exercise we treated ourselves to a curry meal out – the kids were impressed!! If you’re in the area, the Curry Cottage at Lovers’ Leap was delicious!

Day 7: Heights of Abraham

We made one more stop before we started the route south – visiting our first tourist attraction of our trips to the region – the brilliantly named ‘Heights of Abraham‘. Alex and Sophie enjoyed having a cable car to ourselves as we took the easy route to the hill top park!

A Victorian attraction, we loved the tours of the show caves learning both about the geology of the area, but also how the area developed first by the mining industry and then by the Victorians looking for holiday escapes from the cities.

There were a series of excellent playgrounds where the children ran wild before we cooped them up in the car! And then, all too soon it was time to head home.

I think you’ll have gathered from the photos that we had a truly epic week. I’m already planning another visit to the Peak District as there are so many walks and rides to tackle!

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