The Peak District is vast, spreading into five counties (mainly Derbyshire but also Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire). History buffs will also know that it was the very first National Park, and it is favoured by walkers, because the Pennine Way starts in the north Peaks. It’s impossible to explore the entire Peak District in just 24 hours, but here is a short guide to one way that you can explore the area in a day.
Our itinerary is based around the White Peak, the southern part of the National Park where there is a lot of limestone (the area to the north is known as the Dark Peak and is predominantly moorland). For a day exploring the White Peak, we recommend basing yourself in Buxton, a bustling spa town that isn’t too far away from some of the more interesting sights in the area.
To start your day with a full stomach, head to No. 6 The Square for a delicious breakfast in a beautiful Regency building. Their full English breakfast is guaranteed to satisfy your hunger, but our personal choice is the special avocado toast served on sour dough with a pomegranate garnish.
After breakfast, allow some time to wander around Buxton, admiring the Pavilion gardens and perhaps popping into a couple of shops.
When you’re ready to leave, hop in the car for a short drive to Pool’s Cavern. It’s one of the most impressive show caves in the country. Visitors can take a short tour beneath the earth to explore the caves and witness the impressive crystal structures and stalactites for themselves.
No. 6 The Square, 6 The Square, Buxton +44 1298 213541
Pavilion Gardens, St John’s Rd, Buxton +44 1298 23114
Pool’s Cavern, Green Ln, Buxton +44 1298 26978
After leaving Pool Cavern’s, take the A53 south to find The Knight’s Table, a traditional pub with roaring open fires, exposed beams and a stone floor. Here, you’ll find a menu filled with pub favourites, like bangers and mash, steaks, scampi and pies (alongside several vegetarian options) – perfect for washing down with a half of local ale.
Following lunch, head further south before turning off to the right in the direction of Lud’s Church. This unique natural landmark is one of the most interesting places in the whole of the Peaks, reached from a short walk uphill through the forest after parking at Gradbach car park. The huge cleft in the rock is descending into via a series of stone stairs, leading through several tight passages to discover secret hiding places and a huge chasm, all with its own microclimate. The walls of the cleft are covered in vivid green moss and ferns, providing an otherworldly ambiance.
Following your hike, head back to Buxton to spend the late afternoon lounging in the Devonshire spa. Spend your time indulging in specialist treatments, including massages, salt scrubs or facials, or simply enjoy the hydrotherapy pool, steam rooms and saunas.
The Knight’s Table, Quarnford, Buxton +44 1298 23695
Lud’s Church, Leek ST13 8TA
Devonshire Spa, Devonshire Royal Campus, Devonshire Rd, Buxton +44 1298 338408
After a pub lunch, chances are that you’ll prefer something a little lighter for dinner, so we recommend local favourite, Simply Thai. Not only is the food beautifully presented, it’s full of authentic Thai flavours and features an array of nutritious ingredients. Choose from a variety of main meals, including steamed dishes, stir fries, curries and their speciality seafood dishes, or opt for one of the set menus to sample several dishes off the menu.
Following dinner, perhaps check out what’s on at the Buxton Opera House. Alongside the annual Buxton Festival, a variety of musical, theatrical and comedy performances are regularly held here with big names frequently taking to the stage. Alternatively, head down to the Buxton Tap House to sample a few pints of beer brewed close by at the Buxton Brewery. With 18 beers on draft, 16 on keg and fridges stacked full of bottles, beer lovers will be happy staying here all night, working their way through the list and perhaps even buying a few bottles to take home as a memento. If you’re not a beer drinker, Tap House also has an impressive collection of whisky and gin.
Simply Thai, 2-3 Cavendish Circus, Buxton +44 1298 24471
Buxton Tap House, Old Court House, George St, Buxton +44 1298 214085