I don’t like to push and promote destinations to go camping without at least giving some ideas on why a certain place is worth a visit. And promoting camping in the Peak District is easy. I have been coming to the national park, since a school trip to Dovedale when I was 11 and have managed to get around most of the well-known and not so well-known places.
Here are my 5 top places to see in the Peak District:
1. Arbor Low
‘The Stonehenge of the North’ as it is often referred to, stands at 400m above sea level and with views in all directions across the beautiful Peak District landscape. Unlike its cousin in the south, Arbor Low does not have visitor figures in the millions and has managed keep its mystery. Whilst the stones lie on the ground, mostly broken, and it is easy to imagine how it looked in its prime, historians can only assume that Neolithic tribes gathered around Arbor Low for ceremonies/rituals, or as a market place. Well worth a visit for the views and mystery.
2. Buxton Opera House and the Buxton Festival of the Arts
Opened in the early 1900s, Frank Matcham’s beautifully designed Opera House is now host to the Buxton Festival of the Arts, a festival that takes place in the Peak District’s most famous town each July. The festival programme offers opera, music and literature; from Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera to Roy Hattersley reading The Devonshires to Claire Jones playing the Harp. The Opera house also hosts other events during the year. For more information please visit http://www.buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/2013-festival/
3. Tissington Hall
Tissington Hall, situated near Ashbourne, has been in the Fitzherbert family for over 400 years. Now also a hotel, guests can stay for a long weekend to take in the estate, the surrounding countryside and the wider Peak District. However, if the £2,000+ price tag is too much, you’ll be pleased to know the hall and gardens are open to the public on certain dates through the year – adults pay £9 and children £4. Please see www.tissingtonhall.co.uk for more information
4. Derwent Dams
The Derwent is where the Peak District meets the Lake District. The 3 reservoirs of the Derwent, Howden and Ladybower flooded the upper Derwent valley to serve the thirsty industrial cities in the midlands at the turn of 20th century.
The Howden and Derwent dams which feature heavily in this watery landscape were used (and later famously depicted in the film) as training for 617 Squadron before their epic raid on the Ruhr dams in Germany in the second world war.
Today the area is hugely popular with families attracted by the beautiful landscape. (pictured above)
5. Snake Pass
Not far from the Derwent Dams is the A57. The road engineered by Thomas Telford as a thoroughfare between Sheffield and Glossop in the 1820s and at its highest point it reaches a height of 512m above sea-level.
Known as ‘Snake Pass’ for its meandering path through this part of the Peak District, takes travellers under Kinder Scout, the highest peak in the national park. The areas off this road is perfect for family walks and picnics.
Please bear in mind that the road in winter can be dangerous and often shut for long periods during snow.
Please use this link for our full guide to holidays in the Peak District.
Autumn is well and truly here and whilst camping may not be to everyone’s taste this time of year, there are plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the changing of the seasons. This weekend we ventured out to Salcey Forest .
Here are my top 10 tried and tested family walks for Autumn in the UK :
1. Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire
My personal favourite! The six-mile circular trail follows the edge of the Salcey forest, a medieval hunting forest known for its ancient oaks and beeches. A series of trailside art sculptures have been installed and a short cut that takes walkers to the Treetop Walk, a skywalk that elevates to 70ft in the air and gives views across the forest and surrounding Northamptonshire countryside. They are also in the middle of creating a super Tree Ninja Adventure playground for kids and adults alike.
2. Kings Wood, Cornwall
Near St Austell is a richly varied spread of oak, beech, ash, birch and spruce on the slopes of the Pentewan valley – popular with walkers and riders. A primary path runs through the middle of the wood, with less formal paths branching off either towards the valley top, for views over the area, or down to the wet woodlands – wear your wellies along the banks of the St Austell river!
3. Sea Palling, Norfolk
A family-friendly walk that takes walkers along the beach from Sea Palling along to Winterton on Sea. It is not a circular walk, so not ideal in that respect, however, if you have young children it is worth following the beach south towards the Great Barn at Waxham and turn back. Those that want to carry on will get a real opportunity to really let the wind blow the cobwebs and enjoy spectacular views across the North Sea.
4. Derwent Valley Walk, Derbyshire
Starting from Fairholmes, this 11-mile circular walk follows a marked route round the famous ‘Dambuster’ reservoirs. The walk is set in heather moorland peppered with beech, rowan, silver birch, spruce and oak trees, which amongst other factors attract a large array of birds, including ravens, crossbills and ospreys.
5. Pepper Wood, West Midlands
There’s an excellent network of walks, ranging from 20 minutes up to 2 hours with young children. Pepper Wood, is the remant of the ancient Forest of Feckenham, and lies close to Wyre Forest near Bromsgrove. The 150 acre site offers a woodland setting in the midst of great oaks, birch and lime. Alders line the valley floor.
6. Pass of Killiecrankie, Perthshire, Scotland
Perthshire is believed to be the area where you will find some of Scotland’s finest woodlands. The Pass of Killiecrankie walk, a four mile walk set in oak woodland along the River Garry, is possible one of the finest. The riverside trail, which starts at the visitor centre leads to the shores of Loch Faskally. You can end your walk at Pitlochry, or continue along the circular Bealach walk, which brings you back to Killiecrankie. The birch, rowan, aspen and ash trees that adorn the walk will certainly give you a taste of autumn.
7. Ullswater, Lake District
This is one for the families with children aged 11 and upwards, it is easier than the walk at Scafell Pike, but still offers a challenge. Starting at church near Howton, this 10-mile circular walk takes you along the shores of Ullswater for part of the way and up in woodland sorrounding the 657m, Place Fell peak. Follow paths and narrow roads to Martindale, then bear right towards Patterdale, before heading towards the shores of Ullswater and following the twisting path to Sandwick and then back to Martindale.
8. Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire
Another family-friendly nature reserve near Nottingham was opened in the 1960′s by Sir David Attenborough. The walk is nearly 4 miles long, has wide paths and can even accommodate pushchairs. It takes visitors from pond to pond for nearly two hours and is perfect for bird watching in Autumn and Winter, including, according to the visitor centre, two fish-eating birds, the goosander and the merganser.
9. Ystwyth Valley, near Aberystwyth
This walk is set in the grounds of Hafod Uchtryd and occupies 500 acres of the Ystwyth valley. There are many huge beeches, red oaks and larches (the only ‘conifer’ to change colour) that line the walks. My favourite is the short(ish) Gentleman’s walk, which climbs to offer great views over the valley. Much work has been carried out in recent years to restore the many of original walks, which date back to the 18th century. Start your walk at the Church car park.
10. Dove Crag walk, Northumberland
Another 4-mile circular walk at Holystone that will take you through stunning Autumn scenery. The walk is set in the Northumberland National Park and follows a path through oak woodland before climbing to moorland. Here you will find oak, birchwoods and larches. Also look out for birds of prey and red squirrels.
Those who looked at the night sky yesterday were treated to a ‘brilliant’ show of stars and I was in the perfect place to take advantage of the clear night – I was camping near Ashbourne in the Peak District.
As the temperatures fell to close to 3 degrees, I should have been in my tent making use of the everything I bought with me to keep warm, but instead I was out on my tent’s small porch looking up – I am sure I am not the only one to stare up at the night’s sky in utter amazement.
Of course you don’t have to go camping to enjoy the night sky, but it helps! I remember discovering, through a friend, the Carre d’Etoile – accommodation specifically designed for its dwellers to enjoy the sky at night. The Carre d’etoile was designed by french couple, Louis and Nathalie Blanco and features a circular window above the bed that opens up the sky to those lying down.
The carre d’etoile, which would come under the umbrella of ‘glamping’, is offered in a number of locations across France and is perfect for a short break. For more information, please visit the Carre d’etoile website.
Nestled between two peaks to the east of Buxton town centre is Limetree Holiday Park, offering camping, touring and static caravans. Their camping ground will be my home for tonight.
The site is set on the banks of one the hills that feature in the landscape as you leave Buxton heading towards Bakewell. The site is hidden from the main road, and only accessible by a meandering road that leads part way up the hill and under the Buxton viaduct.
As you enter the site you are presented with their range of static caravans and lodges, some are available for rent, others are owned as a second home. To the right leading up the hill is the tent with electric hook up area and behind and above the reception is the general camping area. Here is where I will pitch up, and at this late in the season, apart from one other couple in a tent a little further below the hill, I am free to choose my perfect location.
The first thing that strikes you is how well run and structured the site is, something perhaps down to Gilly the office manager. There are distinct areas for each type of accommodation and, as an example, areas that only backpackers and cyclists can pitch up – that is no cars allowed.
Good facilities are available for those camping; although in high season I can imagine there would be a queue for the couple of sinks available for washing up after a dinner al fresco.
The Peak District has plenty to offer and this holiday park is perfect for families with young children, as it is for couples and groups of friends out enjoying this part of the English countryside at its best. The rain sets in as close my eyes.
Waking up this morning, I was half expecting to find myself surrounded by an immense wave of other tents, but alas no, it seems the weather has deterred many. Instead coming out of my tent was like a scene from a Disney film; rabbits and squirrels darting every which way as soon as I stepped out [that’s the real woodland animals, not the cartoon versions!].
For more information, please call 01298 22988 or visit www.limetreeparkbuxton.com