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May is National Walking Month, four weeks dedicated to encouraging people all over the UK to get out and about and experience the benefits of walking, no matter their fitness level or ability. It is not a new idea that walking is good for us, over 2,000 years ago Hippocrates claimed that “Walking is man’s best medicine” and over the consequent centuries, scientists have been able to add weight to this claim, with studies proving that walking improves our mental and cardiovascular health, as well as aiding weight loss, regulating blood pressure and improving circulation.
To celebrate National Walking Month, we have decided to list our top tips for the perfect walk in the Peak District, as well as our favourite walks in Derbyshire. We have chosen the Peak District National Park due to its important place in British political history; the area was the scene of the Kinder Scout Mass Protest of 1932, in which hundreds of ramblers from Manchester and Sheffield set off for the highest point to call for the ‘right to roam’, as at this point most of Britain’s fantastic countryside was owned by wealthy landowners. Under the post-war Labour government, the National Parks Commission was established and in 1951, the Peak District became the UK’s first National Park.
If you are thinking of bringing the little ones along, to avoid any shouts of “We’re bored!” or “How much longer?” we have also created a printable Wildlife Challenge checklist to keep them occupied while walking and to get them learning all about the beautiful landscape around them.
Download your printable Wildlife Challenge and say goodbye to weary walkers.
Whether its your first time to the Peaks or not, its always important to plan which route you will be taking, checking the distance to required rest stops – especially when accompanied by small children. Take a map, or download one of the free route plans available from the Visit the Peak District website to make sure you don’t lose your way.
If you are bringing along a four-legged friend, check whether dogs are allowed on your chosen route, or if they have to remain on a lead for certain sections. It is also worth checking which establishments are dog-friendly if you are stopping for food or drink on the way; take a look at our selection of dog-friendly pubs in Derbyshire and the Peak District for inspiration, or our Guide to the Perfect Dog-Friendly Holiday for more advice on taking your dog away with you.
By planning your route in advance, you can also ensure that you pass by some of the Peak District’s best tea rooms and cafes, or if a pint after a long walk is more your thing, take a look at our roundup of 7 of the best pub walks in the Peak District.
If you are thinking of walking part of the way and returning by public transport – or vice versa – make sure to take a look at the route maps and time tables as they can change depending on the season, day of the week and weather.
If you are travelling by train, there are four major lines that pass through the Peak District; the Hope Valley, Derwent Valley, Manchester to Buxton and Manchester to Glossop lines. Information for these routes can be found at nationalrail.co.uk.
If you are traveling by bus, you can catch the TransPeak bus service, which begins in either Manchester or Derby and passes through the heart of the Peak District, including destinations such as Chelmorton, Rowlsey, Haddon Hall, Ashford in the Water, Bakewell and Taddington. For other bus routes and time tables around the Peak District, visit derbybus.info.
The right clothing and footwear can be very large factors in whether a walk is successful or not, with the wrong shoes, too little or too many clothes all being highly detrimental to not only your enjoyment but potentially your life. The previous sentence sounds dramatic, but in certain cases the wrong attire can lead to accidents or cases of hypothermia. We’re not saying that you will need expensive walking gear for a leisurely stroll, but as the weather in the Peak District can change very quickly it is worthwhile being prepared.
When it comes to clothing, layering is key. What may be a warm, sunny day in the lowlands can be very different the higher you climb, with the tops often being a lot cooler. The same can be said for changes in weather, a pleasant morning can easily transform into a rainy afternoon and vice-versa. Light layers can be removed or added at different points when needed, with items such as waterproof jackets and fleeces being most useful.
It may sound boring but appropriate footwear is imperative to enjoying a walk in the Peaks. Suitable footwear should be comfortable, supportive and waterproof, anything else could lead to blisters, sore feet, or chance of slipping and injury. Make sure to size up with walking boots as feet often swell one or two shoe sizes larger when walking or running. Another important point is to make sure socks lay completely flat and are not ruched or folded, as this will cause blisters on longer walks.
Taking a rucksack with plenty of snacks and fluids is a must, especially when walking with kids. Take a selection of energy boosting foods, eat little but often and ensure you take water to remain hydrated. Popular snacks would include: Sandwiches, nuts and seeds, bananas and other fruits, oat cakes, cereal bars, chocolate bars, dried fruit and for the end of the walk when energy levels are flagging, jelly sweets like midget gems, jelly babies and wine gums are ideal.
Make sure to bring along your camera or smart phone and capture as many photographs of the spectacular views of the dramatic Peak District landscape. Some of our favourites are Mam Tor’s Great Ridge, the Ladybower Reservoir at Bamford and Kinder Resevoir from the Dark Peaks.
This circular walk takes you along part of the Pennine Way, a National Trail that stretches 268 miles from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. It takes you from Hope Village, through the Vale of Edale to the Kinder Plateau, where you will join the Pennine Way. There are some fantastic views from this vantage point that only get better as you continue to Kinder Downfall. This 10.75-mile walk is somewhat challenging and requires hikers to scramble in some areas, however the superb views are definitely worth it!
This route is one of the most popular walks in the Peak District, with the panoramic views from Mam Tor, also known as the ‘Shivering Mountain’, being some of the most photographed in the National Park. A 6.5-mile route, this walk takes you from the village of Castleton to the summit of Mam Tor, continuing on to the Black Tor and Loose Hill Pike, all offering fantastic views of the Peak District. It is possible to take a slightly longer route along the riverside, returning to Castleton via Hope Village – which is 8 miles in total.
Explore the southern Peak District and its limestone landscapes on this 1.5-mile walk. Perfect for families and dog walkers, this moderate walk begins at the picturesque Ilam Park, a 158-acre country park owned by the National Trust, and passes through the village of Ilam, a number of fields and on to Dovedale. A National Nature Reserve since 2006, Dovedale is an idyllic part of the Peak District, with the River Dove acting as home to many species of fish, birds and invertebrates. The surrounding valley is a mixture of woodland and grassland meadows offering many photo opportunities, as well as the famous Stepping Stones.
Stanage Edge is one of the most well-known landscapes in the Peak District, having featured in a number of film and television productions, such as the most recent adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. It is no surprise that these spectacular cliffs are so popular when taking into account the fantastic views provided their summit. This 9-mile walk begins and ends in the quaint village of Hathersage, passing North Lees Hall on its route to Stanage Edge. The 16th century manor house is believed to have been the inspiration behind Thornfield Hall, the home of Mr Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre.
If you’re thinking of taking a trip to the Peak District then why not enter our May monthly prize draw for a chance to win £800 worth of Sykes holiday vouchers PLUS £200 to spend on walking gear?
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