With summer over and autumn well and truly settling in, some of you may begin to get itchy feet, something I struggle with regularly. Thanks to this global pandemic it has forced many of us to return to where our roots lie. Embarrassingly, I have barely explored my own country, opting to go abroad at every opportunity I have had. Even hopping across the English Channel to France just because it was a foreign land, plus I live closer to France than I do to London. Hence this hopefully useful guide on how to spend a budget weekend in the Peak District.
The UK, although a small isle and amongst all the cities and skyscrapers found in London there are some absolutely stunning places – mountains, national parks and coastline. The Peak District, along with the other many national parks in the UK should be on your list, with its high peaks to climb, stone cottage villages, deep caverns and various wildlife to see what more could you want for a weekend break?
Please note: this trip was taken in August 2020, please do check for any Covid restrictions before you travel and spend your budget weekend in the Peak District.
Cost: £80 in total for the return journey (based on a 4.5 hour journey one way) plus all the driving around during the day. Obviously, this is dependent on your car, how you drive and the cost of fuel. Between 3 of us this was approx £26 each.
Safety Thoughts: Travelling in a car with your friends is probably one of the safest ways to travel at the moment (restrictions allowing).
Remember the UK has hostels too, one of them being a well known and wide spread chain called YHA. Many of their hostels are located in great spots, meaning you can pick up a cheap room in a great location. One of the reasons just how you can achieve a budget weekend in the Peak District.
Cost: Grab a bed for £40 per person per night in the deep heart of the Peak District (Castleton)
Safety Thoughts: Due to Covid you are currently not allowed to share a room. Which means if you travel in a group you can get a private room between you, plus bathroom facilities.
Five Unmissable Things To Do In The Peaks
1. MARCH ON THE HEATHER MOORS
If you’ve come to the peaks then it’s safe to say you like walking, otherwise I think you’re in the wrong place. Take a march on the heather moors. Walk through a sea of purple flowers, gaze out at the one of the best viewpoints in the Peak District. Begin at the car park, called Surprise View, about 15 minute drive from Castleton. Here is a great spot for stargazing if the sky treats you to a clear sky.
Cost: Free to enter, but you need to pay for parking £3.50 for 2 hours.
2. HIKE UP TO MAM TOR
Another peak, another walk and another amazing view. Arguably one of the most instagrammed locations in the Peak District. Perfect at sunrise or sunset, Mam Tor is the perfect peak to visit. Hike up to the peak from Castleton, up onto The Great Ridge, along the ridge and back down into the village. This circular route is very doable directly from outside the YHA hostel in Castleton. Or if time is short, park in the National Trust car park. Directly at the foot of Mam Tor and walk straight up (approx 20 minutes uphill). Caution: Weather will be the biggest problem, peaks are known for being engulfed in clouds and fog.
Cost: Circular hiking route – free. Parking at National Trust Mam Tor – £3.50 per car (2 hours). Or find somewhere just off the road that is safe to park, and free, and walk a little further.
3. VENTURE INTO A CAVERN
If having your head in the clouds is getting too much for you then venture underground into one of the Peak District’s caverns. Around Castleton specifically there are 4 different caves to choose from, each varying in size and awe. The caves are the result of the mining heritage and river formations which were once present in Derbyshire.
Cost: Approx £14 per person.
4. VISIT BAKEWELL AND EAT A BAKEWELL
If food, (sweet food) is your thing then this is an absolute must. How can you visit the home of one of the most traditional sweet treats in the UK and not visit the town where it was created. Well, in fact the true product is the Bakewell Pudding but that’s another story. Bakewell town is in the South East corner of the Peak District national park, only a 30 minute drive from Castleton. An ideal stop off on your way into or out of the National Park.
Cost: Park in one of the many car parks or find some off street parking a little way out of town that will give you 2 hours free parking.
5. MONSAL TRAIL
By now your legs may be starting to tire, your feet aching, but your thirst for adventure is still in need of quenching. The Monsal Trail should be your next choice of activity, a traffic free pathway.
The entire trail is a 8.5 mile route between Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale and Coombs Road in Bakewell.
The trail is unique being the former midlands railway line, meaning you’ll be cycling through dark tunnels out into the bright daylight surrounded by picturesque views.
Cost: Hassop Station is highly recommended. Park in the overflow car park off of the roundabout for free. Bike hire is £12 per person for 2 hours or £16 for 4 hours.
Safe Travels, Pip x