A Perfect Peak District Weekend Itinerary

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I recently moved to West Sheffield on the cusp of the Peak District National Park. It’s only been a few months, but it has superseded my expectations by an absolute mile. With every bit of free time I’ve had, I’ve jammed in exploring this postcard-perfect part of England.

In 15 minutes I’m out of the city and cruising around doing some epic Peak District weekend road trips, exploring the area’s iconic landscapes, historic villages and tourist attractions.

The Peak District was actually the UK’s first-ever national park and is one of the country’s most popular parks to visit, probably due to the ease of access being close to major cities like Manchester and Sheffield. But there’s absolutely no denying it’s impossibly beautiful and interesting too! It really has an abundance of varied attractions, no matter what you’re into – whether that’s walking or biking through iconic landscapes, uncovering fascinating history, visiting pretty villages or simply eating local delicacies!

Is two days enough time to visit the Peak District? Honestly, for a 1,438sq km national park, no it’s not. Ideally you need five days to a week. However, two days will allow you to speed visit a few of the Peak’s highlights.

So, having done many trips across the national park, I thought I’d share my favourite Peak District weekend road trip itinerary, which suggests where to go and what to see within two days and two nights.

So, be prepared to wake up early and wear a comfy pair of shoes. Let’s dive in!

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Don’t own a car?

Don’t worry – you can still do a Peak District road trip! 

There are lots of car rental options in the area as hiring a car to explore the Peaks is quite common. Compare local car hire here.

Remember many roads in England, and especially in the Peak District, are very narrow and windy. Sometimes the roads only fit a single car, so you should always drive with caution and be prepared to pull over or reverse to a passing place with more space to allow you both through.

If you don’t have a driver’s licence then your next best bet is joining a group tour which will drive you to the highlights in a mini bus. 

How to spend a weekend in the Peak District:

The suggested Peak District weekend itinerary map, displayed as a circular route from and to Sheffield

As with any weekend trip, I would suggest shooting off on a Friday evening to make your weekend feel longer (in fact, it’s one of my go-to tips if you’re looking to make more time for adventure when you work).

That being said, this itinerary is based on exactly that: driving to your first destination in the evening and spending the night there initially.

This two day Peak District itinerary allows for two full days of exploring where I think are two of the best places to visit in the Peaks if you have limited time.

Although I’ve based this itinerary on spending one night in two different places, it’s absolutely possible to spend two nights in the same place to use it as your ‘base’ to explore the Peaks. Everything in the Peak District is fairly close and can be easily accessed by car in typically under an hour. 

Stop 1: Castleton

1 night, 1 day
A stone house beside the river and in front of Peak Cavern

In my opinion, Castleton is one of the highlights of the Peak District. It’s somewhere I suggest everyone should visit at least once if you’re new to the area. You can easily spend the whole weekend just in Castleton alone, but if you’re looking to explore more of the Peaks, then you can just about squeeze in the highlights in one day.

About Castleton

Castleton is a small village located in the beautiful Hope Valley of the High Peak district in Derbyshire. It’s almost smack-bang in the middle of the national park, and only a 30-40 minute drive west from Sheffield.

The Hope Valley is a large and wide valley with gritstone moors to the north known as ‘Dark Peak’ and limestone outcrops and dales of the ‘White Peak’ to the south.

This fascinating varied geography means that Castleton is a haven for walkers and outdoor sport enthusiasts who use it as a base to explore the incredible hills, caves and epic gorges of the surrounding Hope Valley.

The village of Castleton itself was founded in the 12th century (in 1086) 100 years after the iconic Norman fortress Peveril Castle was built, which now lies in ruins on the hill above the town. So not only is it an extremely attractive village, but it’s full of history to learn and absorb through the atmosphere as well.

What to do in Castleton

I’ve outlined the best things to do in Castleton here which is where I’ve gone into much more detail, but here are the highlights for only a day in Castleton:

– Visit a cavern

Entrance to Peak Cavern in Castleton

Due to the interesting geography of the area, Castleton is home to many caves and former mines. There are four show caves/caverns you can visit, and each offers something quite different. 

Peak cavern is naturally formed and has the largest cave entrance in Britain. Speedwell is a former lead mine, now flooded and accessed only on a boat tour. Blue John and Treak Cliff Cavern are both famous active mines, where the rare fluorite Blue John Stone can be found, used for making into jewellery and ornaments.

It’s really hard to choose which is the best show cave to visit in Castleton, but I would probably recommend Treak Cliff Cavern. It’s the only cave where you can do a self-guided tour (or guided tours are available) and it has a small museum, interesting rock formations and you’ll get to see and learn all about the area’s famous Blue John Stone.

Have a look around Castleton Village Museum

Located in the visitor centre, Castle Village Museum is a free activity giving an overview of the village’s fascinating geography and history over the centuries. The interactive boards and exhibits will help paint the picture of the area and what makes it so incredibly special.

Visit Peveril Castle

Exterior of Peveril Castle Keep in Castleton, Derbyshire

If you love history, then visiting the ruins of Peveril Castle perched on the hill above the village is for you. It’s one of the UK’s earliest Norman fortresses built for its spectacular vantage point, and was even mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. 

However, considering only the keep remains, if you’re the kind of person who won’t take much enjoyment from reading information boards and having to use your imagination, then you likely won’t get much out of a visit to Peveril Castle, aside from the stunning views over towards the village and down along the valley of Cave Dale.  

If the chance arises, I would highly recommend joining a free tour led by a volunteer to make the ruins and history of this majestic castle come to life.

Peveril Castle is managed by the English Heritage and entrance tickets can be bought from the castle visitor centre.

Walk through epic Cave Dale

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Cave Dale, just next to Peveril Castle, is a true sight to behold. It’s a dry limestone valley formed by melting glacial water. The melted water became a river which found a path underground causing the formation of caves and caverns which subsequently collapsed, making the valley even deeper and gorge-like.

The perpendicular banks of the valley are rocky and carpeted in grass. From the village of Castleton, you can walk or cycle as far as you like along Cave Dale as it’s a public bridleway called the Limestone Way.

The Limestone Way begins in Castleton and through Cave Dale, so you can walk as far along the 46 mile route as you like, before walking back the way you came or looping over to Winnats Pass and back into Castleton.

Wander through the town (visiting the church, shops & more)

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Castleton is an extremely attractive village aesthetically, and there’s lots of scenic nooks and crannies to explore. A highlight is walking along the river to Peak Cavern, looking around all the jewellery shops selling the iconic Blue John Stone, and also paying a visit to the Carlton Emporium vintage shop. 

St Edmund’s Church is a grade II listed building and well worth having a look at before having lunch or a cream tea at one of the many tea rooms.

Just be respectful to the residents who live there and don’t go onto any private property or park in front of their houses.

Where to stay in Castleton

Castleton Village centre with war memorial

If you’re on a backpacker budget then one of the best hostels is by far Loosehill Hall YHA, which is a stunning Victorian gothic mansion with both dorm rooms and private rooms. 

If you’re looking for something a little more special and a whole private property for a family or a small group, then the beautifully finished three bedroom Grange Cottage may do the trick.

For simply a peaceful room in a country B&B close to Castleton, then there’s Dunscar Farm Bed & Breakfast

Where to park in Castleton

The main car parking in Castleton is a 24 hours pay and display carpark next to the visitor centre and toilets. It’s around £4 for 2-4 hours. If that’s full, there is also roadside pay and display parking, just across the roundabout to the west of the town (turning right coming out of the carpark).

Free car parking in Castleton can be found further along Old Mam Tor Road past the roadside pay and display, beyond the entrance to Peak Cliff Cavern. It requires a couple of minutes walk to get back into the village, but saves you a few pounds.

Stop 2: Castleton to Bakewell (via Winnats Pass)

1 day, 1 night

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When you leave Castleton you absolutely must drive through Winnats Pass to the west of Castleton, heading towards Sparrowpit.

Winnats Pass is one of the Peak District’s most famous roads, a snaking hill pass taking you through a stunning gorge. However it’s unsuitable for large/heavy vehicles as there’s a 28% incline in parts!

The scenery can be admired simply from the car by driving through, or you could pull over and take a steep scramble to the top of one of the banks to enjoy it all from a viewpoint.

Once you’ve driven through Winnats Pass, it’s time to head to the next destination on your Peak District weekend itinerary, Bakewell, just a 25 minute drive away.

About Bakewell

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Image credit: Mike Dabell via Canva

Bakewell is located 13 miles south of Castleton on the banks of the Wye River in the Derbyshire Dales. It’s the largest town in the Peak District National Park.

You may already know what the town’s most famous for – the birthplace of the Bakewell pudding. Legend has it, it was created by mistake by a local cook in the mid-19th century (and it was a hit!)

Bakewell is widely regarded as a ‘foodie’ destination. There’s a produce market every week which dates back to the 13th century, and wandering around you’ll find shops, restaurants and cafes selling all manner of tasty treats – handmade fudge, pasties, puddings, specialist whiskey and much more.

The market town was supposedly disguised as the fictional ‘Lambton’ in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, (the author stayed at Bakewell’s Rutland Arms Hotel in 1811 when she was writing it). She also took inspiration from nearby Chatsworth House as Pemberley, the residence of handsome and proud Mr Darcy. Chatsworth was aptly used as a filming location for the 2005 film starring Keira Knightley.

Things to do in Bakewell

Bakewell is a busy and bustling town that I think can be explored with a good half day (probably an afternoon). The morning could be spent paying a visit to the nearby historic tourist attractions of Chatsworth House or Haddon Hall.

– Visit Chatsworth House

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Chatsworth House is a stunning Grade I listed 17th century stately home and estate owned by the Devonshire family which has been passed down the family for 16 generations. 

Chatsworth is a 15 minute drive from Bakewell and is well and truly on the tourist radar – both international and local. It’s been chosen several times as Britain’s favourite country house. As a result, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, so expect it to be busy all year round.

Regardless of its popularity, Chatsworth is an absolutely mesmerising property with the original part of the building having been built in the Tudor times by Bess of Hardwick, and additional extensions added over the subsequent centuries.

There are over 25 rooms open to visit, including the State Rooms, the Painted Hall, Sculpture Gallery, a chapel and over 100 acres of varied gardens and grounds. There are also many shops throughout the estate including the beautiful Orangery selling gifts and homewares, home living shops in the old stables and the Estate Farm Shop selling local produce which is a short drive from the house. 

– Take a riverside stroll and admire the bridges

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Arched over the river Wye to the west of the town is a Grade I 13th century five arch stone bridge, an iconic landmark of the Peak District and one of the last few remaining from that era.

Along this section of the river Wye towards the town, is a wide tarmac footpath suitable for anyone, including prams and wheelchairs, to take a stroll along the charming riverbank or perhaps feed the ducks. 

Along this route you’ll come across another interesting bridge – the Bakewell Love Lock Bridge. 

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Since 2012, lovers and families all over the world have been publicly declaring their love by adding a lock to the bridge and flinging the key into the Wye river. Adorned with thousands of metal locks in all shapes and sizes, the bridge really has become a symbolic and eye-catching attraction in Bakewell.

– Try a tasty Bakewell pudding (or tart)

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Sweet and sticky, the Bakewell pudding will delight the taste buds of anyone who likes almond and marzipan flavours.

The Bakewell pudding has a flaky pastry case, a layer of sieved smooth jam at the bottom, and filled with a filling made of egg and almonds. It’s often topped with flaked almonds and then baked.

The Bakewell tart is very similar to the Bakewell pudding, however the tart is made from shortcrust pastry instead of flaky pastry and is often topped with a white icing and a glacé cherry. 

The original home of the Bakewell pudding, where it was first commercialised after its accidental inception, is apparently the ‘Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop’ in The Square. They also have a deli and restaurant serving lunches and cream teas.

However there are also many other places to buy and taste the famous dessert, including my favourite place, the smaller Bloomers of Bakewell bakery.

– Browse the independent shops

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As mentioned, Bakewell is a foodie paradise, so bring your tote bags and go hungry so you can eat your way around the market town! 

As well as the farmers market which is generally held on the last Saturday of the month, there are many permanent food shops in Bakewell to visit (and try a free sample or two!). There’s the Bakewell Cheese shop, Roly’s Fudge Pantry, the Wee Dram whiskey shop and more.

There are also many other cool shops such as the British Emporium which sells British-made homewares and gifts and the Rutland Arms Antiques Centre.

After a day of stocking up on some local goods to take a bit of Bakewell home with you, it would be ideal during your two night stay in the Peak District to spend the evening or afternoon here, to have a traditional Sunday lunch or pub meal at The Manners or the Joiners Arms.

– Visit the Old House Museum 

Although you may be a bit tight on time, if you do manage to find yourself with a spare hour and want to learn more history about the area, it’s well worth considering a visit to the Old House Museum.

The museum is housed in an old 16th century Yeomans home (meaning either a servant in a royal or noble household, or someone who owned or cultivated land). As well as exploring the building (complete with a Tudor toilet!), there are various artefacts and exhibits of local life.

Note that the museum costs around £6 per person and is only open 25 March – 5 November.

Where to stay in Bakewell

If you’re travelling on a budget, the Castle Inn, bang in the town centre have basic but comfortable double rooms available from £63 per night.

A highly rated accommodation option in Bakewell is Gardeners Cottage Bed & Breakfast set in secluded leafy grounds a short walk away from the town. As well as double rooms with shower ensuites, the price includes a full English, Irish or vegetarian cooked breakfast.

For a luxury whole traditional cottage with every detail thought about, the fantastic Ash Cottage will suit a couple celebrating a special occasion.

Where to park in Bakewell

Bakewell has multiple paid pay & display car parks, the most central is probably the Market Place Car Park. There is also Coombs Road Car Parking which can often be a little quieter as it requires a short walk across the Love Lock Bridge. 

Free short stay car parking in Bakewell can sometimes be found along Station Road (which is the first left just before the five arch bridge, if you’re coming from Sheffield). However, there are probably only about 5-10 car spaces so it’s limited.

A weekend in the Peak District is simply not enough time to see and do much in the area at all. However this Peak District weekend itinerary attempts to cram in what I think are some the highlights which consist of a good mix of activities allowing you explore this wonderful part of the English countryside by both foot and car.

I hope you enjoy your two night stay in the Peak District and have found this guide useful!

Heading to The UK Soon? Don’t forget these essentials!

Flights: compare and search using Skyscanner

Accommodation: hotels to hostels, glamping to apartments I always use Booking.com

Tours: to search and compare the best group tours and activities worldwide (with up to 20% off), use Viator

Visa: don’t forget to check the entry requirements for the passport you are travelling with

Inspiration: Lonely Planet’s guide to Great Britain or Lonely Planet’s guide to England

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7 thoughts on “A Perfect Peak District Weekend Itinerary”

  1. This sounds like a perfect weekend itinerary in the Peak District! I spent 3 weeks in England this past fall and can’t wait to return. I would love to explore this national park and the historic villages.

  2. The Peak District sounds like the perfect place for a weekend getaway, so I understand why it’s so popular. Winnats Pass looks beautiful! 🙂

  3. Travelling Tam’s vivid storytelling takes me on captivating journeys with every post! I’m always eager for the next adventure through Tam’s lens.


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