When you get that urge to escape the concrete and disappear into the wilderness, nowhere beats the Peak District. There’s just so much of it - 555 miles to be precise - and every single one is makes this the ultimate outdoor wonderland. Hike up the hills or bike along the trails, scramble through hidden gorges and explore forgotten caves, or just take in the endless views of sweeping valleys, sparkling waters and wilder-than-wilder countryside.
Whatever kind of weekend-explorer you are, this pocket in the North has everything for everyone - and that’s what makes it an absolute must-explore. Whether you’re a full-time foodie or a part-time pathfinder, there’s a thousand thrills to be had, pubs to enjoy and breathtaking views to stick on your feed.
And here’s our guide to enjoying the best bits in just 48-hours:
Where to stay: Fischer’s Baslow Hall
When you’re escaping to the Peak District, you want it to feel like an escape in every way possible -- that’s what makes Fischer’s Baslow Hall our podium-topper. We’re not just talking about a hotel here, we’re talking about an award winning, individual, stylish, boutique, Grade II listed country house that’s covered in creepers, set within gorgeously-tended gardens and surrounded by the beating heart of Peak District countryside. The location couldn’t be more stunning. And nor could the rooms: warm, welcoming, relaxing, immaculate and grand. Oh-so-grand. But it’s the restaurant that has made this place a magnet for foodies. Whether you’re a comfort-loving walker or a hardcore-hiker that’s partial to some pampering, Baslow Hall is for you.
Saturday morning: Explore Dovedale and The White Peaks
Where better to start your weekend away than the southern tip of this playground, an area thick with limestone and dominated by ancient ash woodlands, huge grasslands full of wildflowers, hillsides with rolling rivers and the far-off splash of waterfalls, Dovedale’s famous Stepping Stones and the start of your journey to the summit of Thorpe Cloud, which promises a jaw-hits-floor moment whether you look North or South, East or West.
A forget-me-not lunch: The George at Alstonefield
For food that’s never tasted so good, we recommend hiking the valley as far as the limestone pinnacle of Llam Rock and then through the incredible wilds of Hall Dale before you pull in your chair and order from the menu -- although you’d be forgiven for heading straight to The George because this place knows how to use local produce like nowhere else. Set in a traditional pub full of old beams, gleaming quarry tiles and a crackling log fire, the beer is on song, the food is fantastic, the chef’s are a mix of creative and courageous, and the seasonal menu will make you want to return again and again. Whether you opt for the roast belly of Gloucester Old Spot pork or the vegan-friendly wild mushroom vegetable suet pudding, the word “wow” will be used.
Saturday afternoon: Ilam Park
You could have been a National Trust member for three decades and you still won’t have stumbled across a place quite as special as this. The grounds, the once-stately home, the cliffs, caves, woodland walks, gentle riverbanks, open parks, gardens and church are nothing less than awesome. It doesn’t matter which way you decide to throw your eyes or point your feet, the great outdoors is yours to explore. Even just stomping about amongst the honey-coloured heaths, moss-covered rocks and hillside trees is enough to make this pitstop oh-so-worth it.
Time for dinner: Baslow Hall
There were a hundred reasons we chose Baslow Hall as your home-away-from-home, but the first-class food was first on the list. Set in the manor house dating back to 1907 is the Michelin-starred dining room, and it’s totally one-of a kind with their menu doubling up as a showcase of British produce. The main events will always be their meat dishes, such as their Derbyshire-raised lamb, the premium game from Yorkshire and the crabs caught on the Cornish coast, but the veggies grown right there, in the kitchen garden, are absolute show-stealers. It’s no surprise this menu has won so many awards -- and it’s just a staircase from your room too.
Sunday mornings spent at: Poole’s Cavern
No wild weekend is complete without packing your backpack, chucking it on the backseat and starting your day with a road trip across the wilds of the Peak District, a bare ankle dangling out the window as you race toward Poole’s Cavern. Forget lazy Sunday mornings, this is your chance to clamber down a rocky pathway and explore one of the most impressive show caves in the country, discovering a world beneath the earth that’s full of crystal stalactites, limestone caverns and chambers that have been around for millions of years. And when you’re ready to return to ground-level, you can stroll along a woodland trail to the top of Peak District hilltop and take it all in from a different perspective.
Sunday lunch at: The Royal Oak
Found in the bucolic hamlet of Hurdlow, a pheasant flight south of Harpur Hill Quarry, is a seriously charming pub; a pub packed full of history; a pub-pub that’s perfect for plonking yourself beside a roaring log-fire, slurping on a real ale and tucking into a tired-hiker’s menu that’s been sourced from the surrounding farms: venison served with pickled red cabbage, roast pheasant with braised sprouts, bacon and parsnips, light bites and fully-loaded roasts. But it’s the walks you can take either side of putting your feet up that make this spot a must, with this pub perfectly positioned for anyone that’s wanting to explore the delights of the southern Peak District. So pack your everyday bag and say yes to the unexpected.
Sunday afternoons are for: Lud’s Church
If you don’t pack a backpack and venture to the south western edge of this adventureland in search of Lud’s Church, your trip to the Peak District will always hold an asterisk. That’s because this deep, moss-covered chasm is one of the most unique, fascinating, mystical and natural landmarks in all of the Peaks UK. From the moment you first descend the giant cleft in the rock, down the ancient stone stairs that take you through tight passages, passed secret hidey-holes connected to Robin Hood and Bonnie Prince Charlie, and deeper into this Black Forest crevice that’s full of Arthurian legend, you get the feeling you’ve stepped into another world.
The Last Supper: Stones
If you’re going to be tempted to stray away from the belly-pleaing Baslow Hall, it will be because you’ve heard about Stones. Tucked away in the heart of Matlock, this foodie-favourite is an exciting cocktail of cosy and eclectic, with an all-British menu that will please everyone that knows a good meal means more than clinking fine wine and toasting good food. We’re not sure how they do it, but Stones manages to serve up a totally unexpected experience, where the menu-changes more than the seasons and the inspired use of local ingredients will have you contemplating the words, “I’ll have everything, please.” Welcome to the forget-me-not finale to an epic weekend.
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