Walking in the Peak District
The Peak District has around 550 square miles of countryside to explore, with most of the Peak District National Park residing in Derbyshire; parts also overlapping into Staffordshire and Cheshire. It attracts many keen walkers from all over the country; offering fantastic views and walks of all difficulties, from novices to the most experienced of hikers. With around 17 million people (30% of the UK's population) in at least an hour's reach of parts of the Peak District, it is considered the second most visited national park in the world.
The Peak District is divided into two main parts – the 'White Peak', consisting of gentler, limestone countryside (mainly in the South and the West), and the 'Dark Peak', the uplands and moors located more towards the North of the national park.
In the White Peak, there was a fairly heavy industrial past – railways and mills being commonplace through this part of Derbyshire, and also lead mines. Many of these are now abandoned, and the once busy railways have now been converted into walking trails – for example, the Tissington Trail, Monsal Head trails and the Wolfscote Dale. There are no large towns in the White Peak; although there are towns that many walkers choose to stop in, for example Ashbourne, Matlock and Buxton. There are walks that also start off from such towns, such as the Froggatt and White Edges walk from Baslow. In the area there are historical points of interest that attracts walkers as well – such as Chatsworth Hall and Haddon Hall, and Eyam, which is a less well-known destination but is full of history and is a picturesque village to pass through.
The Dark Peak offers a different type of experience; based on hard gritstone, it contains wild heather moors such as Bleaklow and Kinder Scout and also more turbulent rivers than that in the White Peak – so careful navigation is advised. One main area for walks in this part of the Peak District is the upper Derwent Valley, between Bamford and Glossop. Dams have been put in place around this area to form three main reservoirs; Derwent, Ladybower and Howden, which all supply water to the Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham areas. The area around these reservoirs is extensive and mainly open to public access, which means walkers are seen here throughout most of the year; especially in the Summer months where water sports on the reservoirs is commonly seen. Small villages and towns in the Dark Peak include Grindleford and Hathersage, and Castleton. Castleton is home to many caverns, most namely the Blue John Cavern, Peak Cavern and Speedwell Cavern; which attracts many visitors and has many activities to enjoy and take part in.
Overall, the Peak District boasts many trails for any walker, and is one of the most beautiful areas of the United Kingdom. Along with its rich history and abundant wildlife, there is much for walkers to do and see, and enjoy the best the North of the country has to offer.
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