The Most Beautiful Villages in England's Peak District

Castleton is one of the most picturesque villages in the Peak District
Castleton is one of the most picturesque villages in the Peak District | © Martyn Williams / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Emma Lavelle
26 August 2020

The Peak District is one of the most beautiful areas in the UK, boasting dramatic hills, brooding moors and misty forests. But these landscapes aren’t all the district has to offer – it’s also home to many charming towns and villages. Here we round up the most picturesque ones, along with an Airbnb recommendation for each.

Ashford-in-the-Water

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Map View
© Matthew Taylor / Alamy Stock Photo
Ask any local to name the most beautiful villages in the Peaks, and chances are that Ashford-in-the-Water will be on their list. It may not be one of the most well-known villages, but its stone houses, 13th-century church and ancient bridge over the River Wye are all reasons enough to visit this charming little town.

Groom's Cottage

Cottages
Courtesy of Caroline / Airbnb

This recently converted barn is set in an idyllic location with countryside views and direct access to a footpath, which leads either down to the village of Ashford-in-the-Water or uphill to Monsal Head. Guests can cook up a storm in the modern, newly-fitted kitchen and enjoy a glass of wine while looking out over the fields. Accommodating two people, Groom’s Cottage is even stocked with books about local attractions for your reading pleasure.

Eyam

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Map View
© travelib / Alamy Stock Photo
The small town of Eyam is steeped in history. For example, when the bubonic plague was brought into the town, the villagers decided to quarantine themselves rather than risk spreading the disease elsewhere in the region. Nowadays, the town is far from macabre, with rows of stone cottages displaying colourful gardens filled with flowers and ornaments that captivate visitors’ attention.

Rowan Cottage

Cottages
Courtesy of Cheryl / Airbnb

A perfect base for those wishing to explore the Peak District, this cottage in the heart of Eyam is full of character. With views of the surrounding countryside, an open fire and low ceilings, Rowan Cottage has certainly got the charm factor. It’s got the history factor too, as it used to be a mill, with parts dating back to the 1700s. Don’t worry, though; the cottage is fully equipped with a kitchen and offers a comfortable living space for up to four guests in both summer and winter.

Castleton

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Map View
© Roger Cracknell 01/classic / Alamy Stock Photo
Castleton is set in the Hope Valley among spectacular surroundings. Mam Tor and Winnat’s Pass provide spectacular vistas, and the village itself is lined with quaint old stone houses and numerous traditional pubs. Many of these are set back from the main road that snakes through the centre of town, perched on the hillside or with back doors opening up to a tranquil little stream that trickles downhill.

Riverbank Cottage

Cottages
Courtesy of Nicola / Airbnb

In the heart of Castleton, this traditional 17th-century cottage sits right next to a stream, so you can listen to the relaxing sound of the water from your bedroom window before stepping out to enjoy the scenery or any of the nearby pubs and cafes. With one double room and an en-suite shower room, this is the perfect romantic getaway for two.

Bakewell

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© Roy Childs / Alamy Stock Photo
Known as the heart of the Peak District, Bakewell is another picturesque town set on the banks of the River Wye. Take a walk along the river to admire the views of the town from the water’s edge, delighting in the array of greenery that covers the banks. The grand old stone buildings throughout the town are home to many independent shops and cafes.

Priory Cottage

Cottages
Courtesy of Veronika / Airbnb

Great for families, this luxurious cottage in the heart of Bakewell is just a two-minute walk from the town centre. Spacious and well decorated, the cottage has recently been refurbished and includes a fully equipped kitchen, reception room, entry hall and patio area. Its three large bedrooms can accommodate up to six guests.

Edale

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© shoults / Alamy Stock Photo
If you decide to walk the Pennine Way, Edale will be your first glimpse of the Peak District. This charming little village with a population of just over 300 is also the start of the walk up Kinder Scout, so you are likely to see hordes of hikers warming up by the fire in the Old Nag’s Head, a quaint pub located just after the church. Take the time to stroll through the small settlement to admire the pretty houses before setting off on your hike.

Edale Moor Keeper's Cottage

Cottages
Courtesy of Tommy / Airbnb

In a Victorian shooting lodge on a private working farm, this dreamy two-bedroom cottage is surrounded by open-access moorland and meadows. Refurbished in 2016 with Hypnos beds and Egyptian cotton linen, the cottage accommodates four guests and boasts an open-plan lounge with a kitchen and a log burner. If you want to splurge, breakfast hampers with local meats, free-range eggs and home-baked bread can be ordered in advance.

Tissington

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© Dave Porter / Alamy Stock Photo
The entrance to the charming village of Tissington is lined with ancient lime trees, giving way to quaint limestone cottages with perfectly manicured gardens. Throughout the town, visitors will find beauty and charm, but if you visit on or shortly after Ascension Day, take the time to seek out the village wells, which are dressed with beautiful displays of flower petals for a local tradition.

Butler's Retreat, Tissington Hall

Apartment
Courtesy of Sir Richard / Airbnb

Perfect for couples and solo adventurers, this flat at Tissington Hall is spacious and superbly decorated, with a lovely breakfast too. The location is great for exploring the Peaks, but it’s also good if you just want to explore the Tissington area. The host, Sir Richard, is welcoming and knowledgeable about great places to dine locally.

Youlgrave

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© David Grimwade / Alamy Stock Photo
Youlgrave is another little-known village that’s a great option for anyone looking to avoid the crowds that fill Castleton and Bakewell on fine days. Located between two scenic rivers, the town boasts many rows of traditional cottages, a couple of quaint pubs and a particularly beautiful church.

Old Vicarage Barn

Cottages
Courtesy of Penny / Airbnb

This converted barn in the middle of Youlgrave village is an ideal place to stay if you love walks or wish to explore what the area has to offer, with Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall and the town of Bakewell all close by. Alternatively, you might just want to sit with your feet up and enjoy the scenery from the garden (depending on the weather, of course). Accommodating two guests, the barn includes an open-plan sitting room and kitchen with a mezzanine bedroom.

Christina Collins contributed additional reporting to this article.

These recommendations were updated on August 26, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.