The Peak District National Park's 63rd birthday

The Peak District's family-friendly attractions

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Beth Pipe

Beth Pipe
HomeAway travel expert

Bakewell Livestock MarketThe Peak District was Britain’s first National Park and 17th April 2014 marks its 63rd anniversary, even celebrated in the Google doodle. Going on a holiday with the kids can be expensive and challenging with wet and dry weather options essential; fortunately the Peak District gives you plenty to choose from whatever the weather. There are also excellent public transport routes with buses and trains criss-crossing the area, meaning you can leave the car behind, and sit back and enjoy the views along the way together.

The beauty of the Peak District is that many of the walks are family friendly, well within the capabilities of most, and all of them come with the guarantee of beautiful views and an excellent chance of a top-notch pub or tearoom at the end. That said, there is far more to do than just walk, with cycling trails, cave exploration and high-adrenaline cablecar rides all on the agenda.


Beth Pipe's guide to the Peak District's family-friendly side


Monsal Trail - Cycling Monsal Trail - Cycling

The Monsal Trail is a beautiful 8.5-mile trail along a disused railway track. It runs from Bakewell to just outside Buxton and though there is a gentle gradient on the way there, it does mean you can coast a little more when your legs are tired on the way back.

It’s perfect for kids as it has the added adventure of several long tunnels with plenty of opportunities to get dripped on and test out how well they echo as you race through pretending to be a train! Information boards are dotted along the route allowing you to delve into the past and there is a small café with toilets and picnic area around the halfway mark.

There are also a number of spectacular bridges where you can pause to admire the views into the river valleys far below before steaming off again to the next viewpoint.

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Wye Valley – Walks Wye Valley – Walks

There are dozens of beautiful routes along the Wye Valley, though perhaps the most dramatic is the one that takes in Monsal Head. There are paths to suit walkers of every ability and the tourist information office in Bakewell has a number of leaflets and books of guided walks to help you make your choice.

If you’ve taken the bus into Bakewell there’s a very pretty walk which winds up onto the tail end of the Monsal Trail before dropping back down into the Wye Valley, only about 2.5 miles in total and plenty of Bakewell Puddings on offer at the finish – two shops claim to offer the original puddings so conduct your own taste test to pick your favourite!

Bakewell is still very much a market town and, if you visit on a Monday, you’ll get to see the livestock market – an exciting hive of activity and free to wander around so long as you’re well behaved.

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Heights of Abraham – Cablecar/Adventure Heights of Abraham – Cablecar/Adventure

If it’s anything like the cablecar we travelled in, the Heights of Abraham will delight the kids and terrify the parents – with spectacular views if you’re not too scared to open your eyes.

The prices, like the cablecar ride, seemed pretty steep at first – but once you're up the top your ticket gets you into a variety of attractions and it’s easy to make a day of it. There are two different cave tours – one rather more challenging than the other – plus a number of exhibitions of photographs and local history as well as an information video.

There’s also a café, a restaurant and two different adventure playground areas where the kids can burn off any energy they have left before making the cablecar ride back down to Matlock.

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Castleton - Caves Castleton - Caves

There are several cave and cavern tours on offer in Castleton and they each have something different to offer. Speedwell and Peak Caverns offer a joint ticket and if you’ve taken the car, it’s best to park at Peak Caverns as there’s more space and it’s cheaper. Peak Caverns offer an excellent guided walk and a background on rope-making in the area whereas Speedwell Caverns has an entertaining subterranean boat ride to an underground cavern.

Family tickets to the caverns can soon add up so if you can only run to one cavern tour the Blue John Caverns are the ones to do. Don’t be fooled by the small collection of old buildings at the head of the mines – this tour takes you deep into the very heart of the Peak District with soaring caverns high above your head and a chance to see the infamous Blue John veins up close.

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Cromford & Buxton - Museums Cromford & Buxton - Museums


With so many expensive things to do it’s great that these fantastic little museums are both free to enter, and there's only a modest charge at Cromford for a guided tour.

Cromford is one of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution being the first cotton mill to be powered by water. There are interactive displays and the guided tour gives you the chance to explore the mill and the village in greater detail – you also get the chance to view a Grade II-listed pigsty, which isn’t something that happens every day!

Whilst Buxton has much to offer in terms of its glorious Victorian Pavillion, its hidden gem is most definitely the museum and art gallery. They are an absolute delight – imaginatively put together, interactive, informative and fun. The lively displays and activities guide you through the history and the geology of the local area and are well worth a visit even if it isn't raining outside.


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All images - Beth Pipe


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