The Peak District, self catering, B&B, hotels, days out and outdoor activities

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Peaclond is a descriptive Anglo Saxon word that translates as 'Peak Land'. We like to think that it is the origin of the name of the Peak District. That kind of makes sense. Why? By and large, the regional names of the UK derive from Anglo Saxon Kingdoms. So why should the Peak District be any different?

It was occupied by the Pecsaetan (Peaklanders) and later formed the northern part of the kingdom of Mercia.

Amongst the tourist attractions in the Peak District are stately homes, theme parks, museums, working museums, visitor centres, pony trekking, outdoor activities, golf and loads more. The only thing we really lack is a coastline but Matlock Bath tries to make up for that - it is a seaside resort about as far from the sea as you can get in England! If you go there, you will see what I mean.

Visitors to the region will find that there is something for almost everyone, regardless of age, ability or interests. For the Kids, there is Gullivers Kingdom at Matlock Bath, a miniature world with gentle rides to suit the little ones. Also at Matlock Bath, you could take the kids for a spectacular cable car ride high above the river Derwent and the A6, ending up at the Heights of Abraham. You can see perfectly why the Victorians nicknamed it 'Little Switzerland'. At the Heights of Abraham, there is plenty to keep them occupied, including guided tours into the show caves. I don't know if they still do it but when I went, they switched the lights off showing you what complete darkness really is. Also geared up for the kids is the Matlock Farm Park attraction, with regular activities and special events. Perfect for the youngsters to lean about the countryside whilst having immense fun.

In terms of outdoors activities, walking is possibly the main reason that people visit the Peak District. There are almost 2000 miles (or for our metric visitors - 3000km) of public footpaths, bridleways and green lanes. With the CRoW Act, walking in the Peak District became even better, with several areas being opened up to walkers, for example Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill. Access hasn't always been that easy though. When walking became more accessible to the masses, much of the countryside was in the hand of the landed gentry who did their utmost to keep people off their land. In April 1932, the Mass Trespass of Kinder took place. This is well documented in books and elsewhere on the Internet so I won't bother expanding on it here as I have nothing original to add. It did, however, have far reaching consequences and contributed significantly to the access that we enjoy today. One of our favourite areas for bog-trotting and walking for a day and seeing hardly anyone else is the area of moorland north of Howden reservoir and south of the Woodhead pass, the A628. Bleaklow isn't so bad if you are off the Pennine Way section.

The Peak District has a wealth of quiet minor roads suitable for cycle touring. In addition, there is plenty of off-road action for both inexperienced and experienced mountain bikers on fantastic singletrack, bridleways and other tracks (see outdoor activities page).

Generally, the BOATs (Byways Open to All Traffic) have been pretty badly damaged by the off-road motorists enjoying the peace, quiet and fresh air of the countryside (as have some bridleways and indeed footpaths as well) so are best avoided. In some places they are virtually impassable for horses, walkers and cyclists during the winter months. For example, the Limestone way just north of Litton Mill - we were OK on our mountain bikes but the water filled ruts, created by the 4x4 drivers and off-road motorcyclists, were impassable for a fell runner (not elderly I might add), who had to trespass into the adjacent field to pass the 2-foot deep water.

It's a great shame that one user group should make access so difficult and unpleasant for others. I think that they forget that these byways were not built for motorised trafic which cuts up the surface in a very different way to foot, horse and cycle traffic.

On a more positive note, there are still the majority of bridleways and of course the trails - the Monsal trail, Manifold Way, Tissington trail and High Peak trail being the main ones. There are also an increasing number of Peak District cycle hire centres for those who wish to cycle and are unable to bring their bikes. Several of these also do electric bicycle hire and hire of hand cranked and other similar machines.

In the early days of climbing, the Peak District was an extremely important area. It was easily accessible from the cities of Sheffield and Manchester. There is a huge variety of climbing, from bolted sports routes to some of the hardest traditional routes. Probably the best known crag in the Peak is Stanage Edge (gritstone), which can absorb hundreds of climbers at weekends. If you prefer a quieter climbing venue, there are always some more out of the way limestone crags to be found. Some of the other gritstone edges such as Froggatt and the Burbage valley can be quiet on weekdays but are busy at weekends. There are a number of novices and beginners crags, for example Burbage North and Birchen (often and incorrectly called Birchen's) edge. Froggatt has a wide range of grades to suit all abilities. If you prefer to boulder, there is plenty available. Some of the better and consequently more popular places are the Burbage valley, Higgar Tor, Cratcliffe and Stanage. Eagle Tor is now in the hands of an owner who does not allow climbing.

Climbing Walls

For those days when you turn up and the crags are too wet/cold or both to make it an enjoyable and appealing day out, there are a number of climbing walls near to the Peak District. In Sheffield, there is the Edge, and if you are prepared to drive a few miles further, on the other side of Sheffield is the Foundry. In the west there is the Rope Race at Stockport and in the North there is Leeds wall. Further east is the Nottingham wall which gets unpleasantly chalky at peak times and in the south there is the wall at Wirksworth (The Face).

The Peak District is found in the heart of England, marking the geographical division of the North and South of the country. You will find spectacular rock formations, wild and windswept moorland, high pastures, isolated farms on the Limestone plateau plus a myriad of picturesque towns and villages with their historic churches, castles, stately homes and museums.

This variety is one of the key factors that attract visitors to the Peak District. There is a huge range of outdoors activities, including walking climbing, cycling, caving, hang gliding, kayaking, sailing, coarse & game fishing. The stunning scenery of the Peak District is accessible on foot, by bike (on the roads or off road on your mountain bike), horse, car and public transport. Many key moments of rock climbing have been played out in the Peak, climbers from around the world are still drawn to crags like Stanage, Froggatt and Curbar.