At a glance:

  • Snake Pass, Buxton, and Cat and Fiddle make for some of the best driving routes in the Peak District
  • Make sure you’ve prepared your car and kit for these road trips, especially if driving during the winter months
  • Don’t miss our list of top activities and sights to see while on a road trip in the Peak District
  • Find out where exactly these spots are, and how long it takes if you’re driving from London


The Peak District is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions of Britain and a fantastic place to take a road trip. The landscape curves and the roads cut through it in a different way to what you might expect in the Yorkshire Dales or Welsh valleys, so get ready to explore it with us…

Best drives in the Peak District

Whether you’re headed to the Peak District with friends, family, or your other half, rest assured it’s a great spot with plenty of incredible views to take in from the car – making it the perfect place for a road trip. 

The Peak District is a national park – the UK’s first, in fact. When driving on high roads you’ll find panoramic views across the landscape, but when you head downhill into limestone gorges, it’s a very different vista. The Peak District towns,  however, have their own unique look, with buildings made from local stone and lots of water-based activities from the lakes and rivers that run through the area.

If you’re spending time in the area and looking for some of the best routes to take in the Peak District, check out our list below. Lots of these make for some of the very best driving routes in the whole of the UK! You’ve got a variety to choose from – from valleys to gorges, high roads to lakeside views – there’s plenty to discover whilst driving through the Peak District. Some are so beautiful you may even want to do them twice.

If you’re wondering what else you can do in the Peak District while you’re there, we’ve also covered our recommended activities to help make your trip a memorable one.

Where is the Peak District?

First things first, where actually is the Peak District? The Peak District is situated in central England at the southern end of the Pennines. Spanning 555 sq miles, it reaches into five key counties: Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester. Hope Valley is said to be one of the most scenic parts of the Peak District National Park, renowned for its breathtaking views and picturesque villages.

The best routes to take in the Peak District

Without further ado, here’s our list of the best drives in the Peak District:

Cat & Fiddle

If you’re looking for a scenic drive in the Peak District, the Cat & Fiddle is a great place to start as it runs through the heart of the peaks between Buxton and Macclesfield. The road itself is actually the A537 but the driving road got its name from the pub on the road. Although the pub closed its doors a couple of years ago, it’s now been transformed into a distillery where you can visit for a tour and tasting (although, we don’t advise the drinking part if you plan to be on the road all day…). 

This route is renowned for its hairpin bends and sudden twists, with the road climbing up above the reservoirs. It can be dangerous, so make sure you take your time and stay alert. You can always pull over to take in the breathtaking views fully!


From the Cat and Fiddle, the road takes you into Buxton, another great Peak District road trip spot. Buxton is a spa town (where that water you might have heard of comes from), and also England’s highest market town at 300m above sea level. It’s clear the town has been a popular tourist location for hundreds of years when you see the impressive Georgian and Victorian buildings that cover it. There’s lots to do here from simply enjoying great cafes or restaurants to visiting museums or even natural limestone caves.

Chatsworth House

While you’re in the area, you might as well follow the A6 out of Buxton and check out the majestic Chatsworth House.

The beautiful house and its grounds are well worth a visit – it’s the sort of place you could spend hours wandering around on a sunny day. However, if you just want somewhere nice to stop for lunch, then this is definitely a great spot to choose.

Winnats Pass

The drive from Chatsworth House to Winnats Pass on its own is a beautiful one, but the drive through the limestone gorge of Winnats Pass itself is something completely different – affording you easily one of the best views in the Peak District by car. If you don’t make the most of it though, it’ll be over in a flash.

The valley is officially a Site of Special Scientific Interest since it used to be under a tropical sea, with the limestone that exists today full of the fossils of sea creatures that lived there over 350 years ago.

In our opinion, the best route is going downhill from Sparrowpit to Castleton. This means as you drive through it the view will reveal itself from behind the high rock faces – and it’s a pretty spectacular one.

From here you can continue to the town of Hope. You can choose to turn left onto Edale Road in the town and do a loop back to where you started – and even drive Winnats Pass again – or continue down to A6013 in Hope Valley.

Bamford Edge

If you’re looking to do some hiking during your Peak District road trip, Bamford Edge is a must-try for walkers of pretty much any level. From the A6013, look out for signs for Bamford Edge and turn right onto New Road.

If you’ve only got a couple of hours to spare on your Peak District drive,  then there’s a 2km walk from the car park to the top. Here, you’ll be able to sit on the edge of the gritstone rock face, and it’s a great place for photos too. There’s a spectacular view from the walk, and you’ll be able to see Ladybower Reservoir and Win Hill along the way.

Snake Pass

If you’re only here for the driving, then head north on the A6013 towards Snake Pass – also known as the A57 – renowned for being one of the best driving roads in England. Crossing the Pennines, this road is dangerous to drive (particularly when it’s wet and slippery) and during the winter you’ll find it closed for this reason. In fact, it’s worth mentioning here that if you are planning to drive this road when the weather is less than desirable, it pays to be prepared and make sure your car is ready for it.

As its name suggests, expect tricky bends and blind summits, as the road itself is at 510m above sea level so you’ll find yourself climbing some steep sections as you drive towards the highest point. Due to the nature of it though, it easily makes the shortlist as one of the most scenic drives in the Peak District.

The road runs from Glossop to the Ladybower Reservoir at Ashopton, stretches for a total of 20 miles and takes about 25 minutes to complete – be sure to take your time and watch out for passing sheep and cyclists!


Finally, we have Glossop – another market town in the Borough of High Peak. It’s a great location to base yourself if you’re interested in more Peak District hikes but the town itself, particularly Old Glossop, is certainly a picturesque place to spend some time.

What things can you do in the Peak District?

During your getaway to the Peak District, there’s plenty to see and do – particularly if you love the great outdoors – so why not take the time to explore some of these unique attractions?

Haddon Hall

You might recognise this majestic manor house thanks to its starring role in various films and period dramas, including Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. Set in the valley of the River Wye, the house is the private residence of Lord and Lady Edward Mann, and is one of the oldest houses in the country. Spend the day exploring the medieval house and its beautiful gardens before stopping for afternoon tea in the house’s 17th Century stable block restaurant. 


Likely to conjure up images of the delicious iced cakes with a cherry on top, the town of Bakewell is – you guessed it – the home of the famous Bakewell tart, so we’d be remiss not to recommend you try one here.

Situated on the banks of the River Wye, Bakewell is the largest town in the Peak District and makes for a scenic pit stop thanks to its medieval arched bridge, quaint stone buildings and a handful of quirky independent shops. Be sure to enjoy a browse along the high street and a spot of tea and tart before you hit the road again.

Monsal Head

If you’re looking for a great photography spot somewhere super scenic, Monsal Head is the place to be – it’s actually one of the most photographed viewpoints in Derbyshire. Monsal Head looks out over the winding River Wye, while the view also spans across Headstone viaduct and Hob’s House Cave.

If you have time, it’s worth exploring the dale itself on foot along the Monsal Trail which crosses the old Midland Railway line. 

Derwent Dams

Another spot to check out during a scenic drive in the Peak District – particularly if you love getting close to the water – is the Derwent Dams. These impressive dams slope around the Ladybower Reservoir and Howden Reservoir for almost eight miles, while the drive features plenty of woodlands and water making for lovely views. Fun fact: the Dams themselves were built in 1916, are neo-gothic in design and filter three reservoirs. 

If you’re here to hike, there’s a circular route you can do which takes in the Dams and the reservoir – said to be one of the most spectacular landscapes in the Peak District.

Castleton Caves and Peveril Castle

For the adventurous among you, don’t miss the beautiful village of Castleton and its cave systems – great for exploring with the kids. Nearby there are also the ruins of Peveril Castle to explore, offering panoramic views from the top over the Hope Valley. Meanwhile, after all that adventuring, Castleton itself is worth a wander, home to many tea rooms, pubs, and independent shops.