If you are looking for a Campervan trip with beautiful hills, cosy country pubs, and social history, try The Peak District. But before you read this article, I have a confession to make. The Peak District is one of my favorite places to go walking. It is also a regular destination for our campervans when they are on hire. I have camped in The Peak District with my Mum & Dad as a child and when I was at school. I have camped there with my kids, as well as youth groups and DofE expeditions. It’s also the start of the Pennine Way, but that’s another story.
Description of trip
One of my favorite trips to the Peak District was with my kids on a campervan walking weekend near Edale. We camped at Upper Booth Farm at the top of the Edale Valley as it has good access to the surrounding hills. Our plan for this trip was to walk up onto Kinder Scout, across to Grindslow Knoll, down to Edale, and home.
Once you reach Edale there are some lovely pubs to eat and drink in. The Old Nags Head is at the foot of the hill and is the start of the Pennine Way. The Ramblers Inn is further down the hill near the railway station. We stopped for one or two pints and then strolled home. Our path home skirted around the base of Grindslow all the way to Upper Booth.
Back at camp, we cooked stew on the stove and played cards by the light of a paraffin storm lantern. I love the light of a paraffin lantern, as it gives off a lovely warm and yellow glow. It’s just a shame it’s not bright enough to see your cards!
We set out late that morning as it takes time to get kids out of bed, fed, dressed, walking boot on, and rucksacks packed. We walked out of the back of the campsite and followed a well-trodden path up onto Kinder. From Kinder, we strode to Grinddslow covering a mixture of path, heather, and peat bogs. On the walk, we stumbled across wreckage from one of the aircraft that have crashed on the mountain. It’s an odd experience walking on the soft peat and heather and finding a cold metal aircraft engine rusting quietly. Sadly 4 aircraft have crashed into the mountain over the years. The weathered engines mark their final resting place.
The walk on and off Kinder from Edale is a well-made flagstone path, so it’s very accessible and worth the effort. If you park in the Station car park at the bottom of the hill, you will find the footpath just past the Old Nags Head.
When did you go to the Peak District?
We went in October which is a great time of year as most of the tourists have gone home. It’s also still warm and dry enough to go exploring. If you do decide to go in the summer you will need to book your campsite in advance. It gets busy and the small roads can get congested. If you book ahead and leave early there are loads of things to enjoy.
Recommendation of what to see/do when you are there
On the southeast of Derbyshire is Matlock, a beautiful market town with cobbled streets and brightly colored shops. I highly recommend an afternoon stroll eating and drinking in various establishments.
If you want to go further south, Dovedale is another beautiful place to camp and explore. The walk along the limestone Valley of the River Dover is something else. The campsite near the top of the Valley is called Common End Farm. I haven’t stayed there myself, but others have recommended it.
For those looking for a more refined stroll in the country, there is Lyme House and its 1,400-acre estate. You can explore the Rose Gardens and grounds where Mr. Darcy met Miss Bennet in the BBC’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’. And for those wanting a bit more Pride and Prejudice take a day trip to Chatsworth House. The house is a stunning 17th-century Grade 1 listed building on the bank of the river Derwent. It has been owned by the Chatsworth family since 1549 and holds a large collection of paintings and furniture. It is also the seat of the Duke of Devonshire.
Bolsover Castle in the south of Derbyshire is a Stuart mansion owned by English Heritage and is well worth a visit. It is described as a “fantasy hilltop pleasure palace of a horse-mad Cavalier playboy”! You get a sense of the lavish lifestyle from the decor, the enormous riding school, and the grounds. We visited on the way back home as a way to break up the journey. We enjoyed the interactive exhibits, the castle-themed play area, and had lunch in the cafe.
About the Peak District National Park
So why is the Peak District so popular with walkers, cyclists, and tourists in general? Is it the natural beauty of the hills in the Edale Valley or the lovely country pubs with open fires? Could it be the cake from Bakewell or the fresh spring water of Buxton? Or, the fact it’s only a couple of hours from London or an hour from Birmingham and Manchester. The truth is, it has something to do with all of that and more.
The Peak District was our first National Park created in 1951, so is an important part of outdoor heritage. It was created due to the increasing popularity of hill walking during the 1930s. People from Manchester started walking in the Peak District at weekends as it was free, and good for you. But access to land was restricted at the time by landowners for game shooting. This led to what is called The Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout in April 1932 by walkers from Manchester and Sheffield.
It is estimated that 400 walkers left Bowden Bridge quarry to walk onto Kinder Scout. Once on Kinder, they were confronted by Police and the Duke of Devonshire’s gamekeepers. Five walkers were arrested for their efforts & jailed for six months. Eventually, this led to the Right to Roam freely in the hills, for which we owe them a great debt. So if you like walking, cycling, or just getting out into the countryside, go to the Peak District and enjoy the freedom.
How to get there
The easiest way to get to The Peak District from our campervan hire center is straight up the M1. We come off at J29 for Chesterfield. Keep an eye out for the crooked spire on the church in Chesterfield as you drive past. It is said to have the greatest lean and twist of any spire in England. We then tend to follow the B roads through Crowhole and Hathersage to Hope.
Places to stay
There are several good places to camp in the Edale Valley, such as New Fold Farm and Field Head Campsite. If you want to stay somewhere with more pubs and a coffee shop, you should camp in Hope. The main campsite in Hope is called Laneside Caravan Park and the facilities are very good, clean and warm. We have stayed there several times, but I have to confess it’s not quite rural enough for me.
Derbyshire is a great place to explore with a Roof Tent as there are plenty of green lanes and campsites to pitch up at. I have taken my TentBox adventuring on the hills surrounding Derwent Water as well as camped in the woods near Macclesfield Forest. But remember, it’s important to check with the landowner before getting pitched for the night.
If you would like to know what campervans we have available to hire for a trip to Derbyshire, click on this link.