Dramatic gritstone peaks and wild moors contrast against picturesque villages and traditional countryside in the astounding Peak District. England's oldest national park delights visitors throughout the year with its renowned beauty and abundance of walking routes. Many historical landmarks, including exquisite stately homes, can also be enjoyed by people staying in holiday cottages in the Peak District. The national park is 555 square miles, encompassing many of the most beautiful areas of Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Staffordshire. This huge area is divided into three different areas; the Dark Peak, the White Peak and the South West Peak.
Many holiday cottages in the Peak District can be found amid the lush vales and sloping limestone hills of the White Peak. This pretty area is characterised by the fields enclosed in neat squares by handmade dry stone walls, painting a picture of quintessential England. Bakewell, home to the famous tart, is a fantastic town to visit. On Mondays you can enjoy a trip to the town's historic market which dates back to the 13th century, making it one of the oldest markets in the region. Roman, Saxon and Norman influences can be found throughout Bakewell, with sights including Bakewell Church, Haddon Hall and two of the town's original wells.
One of the most popular attractions of the Peak District, Chatsworth House, can be also found in the White Peak area. The stately home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire is accessible from most holiday cottages in the Peak District, making it a must-see during any visit to the region. The property has featured in several films and television programmes, including Pride and Prejudice. Many believe the house was the inspiration for Pemberley, the house of Mr Darcy in Jane Austen's classic novel. The public are welcome to explore some of the 126 ornate rooms inside the house, as well as Chatsworth's beautiful garden with its renowned water feature The Cascade.
Moving north the striking Dark Peak area is marked by untamed moors and exposed gritstone crags. Although holiday cottages in the Peak District are more popularly found in the White and South West Peak, there is a wide selection of properties that offer access and views of the rugged Dark Peak. The great appeal of the Dark Peak's inspirational landscape is the feeling of remoteness it evokes. Mostly uninhabited apart from isolated farms, the region is a natural patchwork of ancient forests, moorlands and vast plateaus. Large reservoirs and valleys also add to the epic beauty of the area, which shows rural England at its best.
Walkers and climbers staying in holiday cottages in the Peak District often visit the rocky outcrop of Stanage Edge in the Dark Peak. The gritstone hills provide breathtaking views of the "Shivering Mountain" Mam Tor, Hathersage and Castleton. There is a range of rock climbing, cycling and walking routes in the Dark Peak, which vary from beginner to advanced. Information of all possible routes can be found from the Peak District National Park Authority. One of the most accessible routes is the Dovestone Reservoir near Greenfield. The 2.5 mile route that circles the picturesque beauty spot is suitable for wheelchairs, pushchairs and bicycles.
Moving south west, heather-covered moors, golden hay meadows and ancient oak woodlands provide a picturesque backdrop to a variety of outdoor pursuits. Remote gritstone ridges such as the Roaches provide rock climbing opportunities whilst many walkers in the South West Peak seek popular vantage points such as Shutlingsloe. Meanwhile, birdwatchers staying in holiday cottages in the Peak District may want to explore the wet pastures of the region, as they are rich with a variety of birdlife including the snipe, curlew and lapwing. There are also many popular spots that boast phenomenal beauty including the idyllic Axe Edge and the Goyt Valley.
Wherever the holiday cottage in the Peak District is located, be sure to take the opportunity to visit the historic spa town of Buxton. The elegantly designed town has been a popular tourist spot for thousands of years, thanks to its famous hot springs. The renowned water of the town can still be enjoyed for free from the well of St Anne. People staying in holiday cottages in the Peak District during summer may be able to witness the Wells Dressing Festival. This involves the wells of the town being "dressed" in pictures made of wholly natural materials and a variety of events - a quirky and fun tradition that has been linked to the Pagans.
Holiday cottages in the Peak District are perfect if you want to attend The Walking Festival, which is one of the most popular events in the region as it caters to a wide range of interests, ages and abilities. There are guided walks as well as themed walks that explore the district's folklore, archaeology, wildlife, literature and ghosts. There are also climbing, cycling and caving tours for people feeling a little more adventurous. Also not to be missed are the weekly farmers markets which are held throughout the year in Castleton, Whaley Bridge, Wirksworth, Hathersage and Matlock, offering fresh local produce to people staying in holiday cottages in the Peak District.