Wanderer at Large: Peak District

A tour guide’s all-time favourite UK places.

Sponsored by Your London Tours.

This autumn, Visit Britain, the marketing arm of the British tourist industry, is launching its ‘Great British Staycation Campaign’ to encourage people to holiday in the UK.

Soul City Wanderer (aka Frank Molloy) is one of the UK’s most accredited and experienced tour guides. Over three decades he has visited nearly every part of the country, touring many of the places that Great Britain and Ireland has to offer.

In a new blog series, he will list his all-time favourite five places by area (spiralling out from London*). These are personal choices, some obvious, some obscure.

This week, the Northern Midlands including Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.


Peak District National Park rocks Daily Shoot 2011 by Leshaines123 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Peak District  

The Peak District is an upland area in central and northern England up to 1,000 feet above sea level, lying mainly across north Derbyshire but also across parts of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. The park boundaries are drawn to exclude large built-up and industrial areas.

There is fairly easy access by road and rail, thus it receives an estimated 22 million visitors per year. This makes it the second-most visited national park in the world after Mount Fuji Park in Japan. The Peak District has been a tourist area for centuries. Thomas Hobbes and Daniel Defoe are among those who documented their leisure visits as long ago as the 17th century. In 1951, it became the first district in the UK to be designated a national park. It is now the fourth largest in England and Wales, covering 555 square miles.

The Peak District forms the southern end of the Pennines and is based on largely gritstone sedimentary rock from the Carboniferous period (350million years ago) which is today quarried for building materials. The Northern Dark Peak is a moorland plateau with a high point at Kinder Scout (2,087ft). The Southern White Peak, with its high ridges, is where most locals live. The Peak District is the source of many rivers, the most dominant one of which is the River Derwent. It receives a relatively high amount of rainfall each year compared to the rest of England and Wales.

A well-known scenic driving route takes in much of the National Park: this is the A6 from Buxton to Rowsley via Bakewell; B6012 to Baslow; A623 to Dove Holes; A6 return to Buxton.

Highlights to look out for in the Peak District include: Arbor Low, the ‘Northern Stonehenge’, 46 stones in a ditch around 4,000-years-old; Ashbourne, famous for its Shrovetide football game; Bakewell, renowned for its Bakewell Pudding, a jam tart with egg and butter topping; Castleton, which holds a memorable Garland Day at the end of May; Crich, a village filled with tramways; Dovedale, an outstanding beauty spot; Eyam, a village that famously quarantined itself during the 1665 plague; Matlock Bath, a spa town almost like a seaside resort; Rowsley, near Stanton Moor, famous for its local stone used for robust construction work such as Nelson’s Column; Stanton-in-Peak, with its prehistoric landscape; and Tideswell.

Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall are covered separately.

Peak District – hit the heights with a grand day out.


Note: All sites mentioned were operating pre-lockdown. Please check relevant websites before embarking on any potential visit. More recommendations will appear next week.

For the very best in guided private tours of the UK visit www.yourlondontours.com


*Operators in the UK tour industry often separate the areas of the country according to what touring can be achieved in a region in one day. As a London-based operator, my ‘map’ spirals outwards from the capital and is separated thus:

  1. London
  2. Northern Home Counties (Beds/Herts/Cambs)
  3. Eastern Home Counties (Essex/Suffolk)
  4. Southern Home Counties (Kent, Surrey, Sussex)
  5. Western Home Counties (Ox/Berks/Bucks)
  6. South coast (Hants/Dorset)
  7. Western England (Somerset/Gloucs/Wilts)
  8. South West England (Devon & Cornwall)
  9. Wales (north & south)
  10. Welsh Borders (Worcestershire/Herefordshire/Shropshire/Cheshire)
  11. Western Midlands (Brum/Warks/Staffs)
  12. Eastern Midlands (Northants/Leics/Rutland)
  13. Northern Midlands (Notts/Derbys)
  14. East coast (Norfolk/Lincs)
  15. Yorks (all ridings)
  16. North West (Manchester/Merseyside/Lancs/Lakes/Cumbria)
  17. North East (Durham/Tyne & Wear/Northumberland)
  18. Southern Scotland (Borders/Lowlands)
  19. Northern Scotland (Highlands/Islands)
  20. Ireland (Northern/Southern)

Published by Soul City Wanderer

Soul City Wanderer is the alias of London journalist and author Frank Molloy, a writer on the city’s history and culture. Born south of the river, he has an MA in London history (Birkbeck) and lectures at various institutions including the Museum of London and the National Portrait Gallery. He is also a fully-qualified Blue Badge Guide (MITG), Westminster Guide and City of London Guide.

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