The Peak District (reaching into Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester) and Derbyshire as a whole are a paradise for families who love walking, cycling and mountain biking and/or adventure sports for all ages – lots of the fantastic trails here are geared for younger walkers and riders.
But it's not all about exercise and adrenaline: stunning scenery and natural wonders abound here, in the form of caves, wildlife and nature reserves, while you can also a trip back in time with rides on trams, carriages or steam trains or by visiting one of several historic houses.
Things to do with kids in The Peak District and Derbyshire
Explore the Peak District National Park with its endless opportunities for cycling, hiking and horse-riding on dedicated routes including the Tissington Trail and the Monsal Trail and at famous sites such as Kinder Scout, Mam Tor and Lud's Church. For other adrenaline rushes, head to a treetop adventure course, plumb the depths as you explore subterranean caverns or take a cable-car ride.
Roam the area's sweeping estates; Chatsworth House (see our feature on a family break on the Chatsworth Estate), Hardwick Hall and Haddon Hall are great places to spend a day, with cafés, playgrounds, landscaped gardens and fabulous rooms to explore. For romantic ruins head to Bolsover Castle, offering great views and even better battlements perfect for scampering around. The grounds are huge and there’s a café for teatime treats.
For more nostalgic trips into the past check out the National Tramway Museum, with a period village and mile-long track that you can ride up and down to your heart’s content.
Discover the Heights of Abraham, a unique park on top of a dramatic limestone gorge ('Little Switzerland') at Matlock Bath, accessed by cable-car and including two show caverns and play and picnic areas. Matlock Baths also has a small aquarium and a small theme-park.
Discover the pretty villages and towns. Buxton, famous for its water (help yourself from St Anne’s Well) and Georgian architecture, makes for a fine day out. Its Pavilion Gardens are a pleasant way to spend a day - 23 acres of ornamental grounds with a playground, lake, café and miniature railway. Venture into its Poole’s Cavern, Derbyshire's most spectacular natural showcave, described as 'The First Wonder of the Peak'. Guided tours take you through spacious illuminated chambers with unique crystal formations. There are also woodland trails with panoramic Peak District views plus a Go Ape tree-top forest adventure course.
Have a wander around Bakewell, famous for its pudding (not tart!) is picturesque and packed with visitors in the summer months, flocking to the farmers’ markets and festivals that often take place.
Explore award-winning Carsington Water, a haven for watersports enthusiasts, with canoeing, windsurfing and sailing. You can also stroll around the lakeside and enjoy the play areas around the visitor centre.
Roam the Derbyshire section of the National Forest.
Art installation, Chatsworth House
The Peak District and Derbyshire are full of wonderful country pubs, restaurants and tea-rooms serving local specialities including Bakewell Pudding. Locally grown farm produce, available from the many farmers' markets and shops dotting the area, is great for self-catering family holidays or breaks.
When to go to The Peak District and Derbyshire
The Peak District and Derbyshire have a changing appeal through the seasons, from warm summer evenings spent outside to autumnal walks through ancient woods and cosy winter evenings in front of a roaring log fire. In spring, there can be few greater pleasures than striking out across the moors or the stepping stones of Dovedale. There's plenty to do indoors too, but in winter many attractions do close for a few months.
Pavilion Gardens, Buxton
You're most likely to camp or stay in a self-catering cottage or lodge in the Peak District and Derbyshire, making it a great-value destination for family holidays.
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