The Peak District is one of those places I always think is so different from anywhere else in Britain. 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.
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 have their own unique look, with buildings built from local stone and lots of water based activities from the lakes and rivers that run through the area.
The Peak District is a national park – the first, in fact. It’s full of history, and if you like finding out about local history and seeing some of it for yourself then this could be an ideal day trip. This route will see you spending around two hours on the road throughout the day – although you might want to drive some sections more than once!
There are three top driving roads in the Peak District National Park and this route takes you on all of them, starting with the Cat and Fiddle. The road 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 that’s not really advisable if you plan to be on the road all day).
The Cat and Fiddle runs between Macclesfield and Buxton, taking us neatly to our next destination. 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, visiting museums or even natural limestone caves.
Follow the A6 out of Buxton and you’ll soon find yourself at Chatsworth House, a few miles north of Bakewell. Slightly confusingly, the stately home is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire and the Cavendish family. If you do visit the Peak District you will notice both of these names used quite a lot.
The beautiful house and grounds are well worth a visit, and 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!
The drive from Chatsworth House to Winnats Pass on its own is a beautiful one but this drive through the limestone gorge is something completely different. If you don’t make the most of it, it’ll be over in a flash though.
In my 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 either 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.
If walking is more your thing then visiting stately homes or museums, Bamford Edge is a must-do 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 a road trip then there’s a 2km walk from the car park to the top. Here you’ll be able to sit on the edge of this gritstone rock face, and it’s a great place for photos if you’re into that. There’s a spectacular view from the walk and you’ll be able to see Ladybower Reservoir and Win Hill along the way.
If you’re only here for the driving though, then continue north on the A6013 towards Snake Pass – also known as the A57 – that is known for being one of the best driving roads in England. 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.
It’s got tricky bends, blind summits and at points the camber changes. The road itself is at 510m above sea level and you’ll find yourself climbing some steep sections as you drive towards the highest point.
This route ends in 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 a picturesque place to spend some time.
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August 27, 2021