From rugged limestone valleys and heather-strewn plateaus to stately mansions and chocolate-box villages, there’s so much to discover on a Peak District road trip. A car is the best way to explore Peak District though be sure to pack your boots and plan a few walks and hikes – this is the best way to immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery.

Ready to hit the road? Read on for our complete guide to planning a Peak District road trip, including information on when to go, where to stay and what to see.

When to plan a Peak District road trip

Many locals say August is the best time to visit the Peak District. The days are long, there’s lots of sunshine and the purple heather is in full bloom. It usually lasts until early September, which can also be a lovely time to plan a Peak District road trip.

October sees shoulder season arrive and can be a great time to visit. The days remain long, temperatures are mild and rainfall is light. Similarly, spring is another terrific alternative to summer. Expect a mixed bag of weather and lots of postcard-perfect photo opportunities thanks to the spotted orchids, cowslips and daisies that pop up across the district.

January is generally the coldest time to visit while December is the wettest. Though if you want to beat the crowds and have attractions like Chatsworth House to yourself, winter can be a rewarding time to plan a Peak District road trip.

How long do I need for a Peak District road trip?

You could easily spend an entire week exploring Peak District, especially if you plan to pencil in walks and hikes. At the very least we recommend at least two to three days to get a taste of the region.

Peak District road trip highlights

Here are a few unmissable attractions and experiences to include in your Peak District road trip itinerary:

Tour Chatsworth House

Magnificent Chatsworth House is a Peak District icon. Founded in the 16th century, it’s known as the ‘Palace of the Peak’ and enchants visitors with a stately Italianate and English Baroque façade. Inside are lavish parlours, staterooms and apartments filled with priceless antiques, tapestries and oil paintings. The gardens were designed by famous landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and feel like an English daydream. Plan your Peak District road trip in December to see Chatsworth House decked from head-to-toe in Christmas decorations.

Take a dip in the River Dane

Sate your appetite for adventure with a dip in the River Dane. Three Shires Head, a picturesque series of waterfalls and plunge pools set beneath a heritage-listed stone bridge, is one of the best wild swimming spots in Peak District. The water flows straight from the hills and is crystalline and just as chilly as you’d expect. Enjoy an invigorating dip, dry off on the riverbank and then head to the nearby Cat and Fiddle pub to warm up with a pint and a hot meal.

Explore Peak Cavern

The natural beauty of Peak District doesn’t stop above ground. Hidden deep beneath Peveril Castle is Peak Cavern, an otherworldly cave that showcases the incredible subterranean ecosystem. Entering the cave is an experience in itself – the mouth is one of the largest in the British Isles! Exploring the cave feels like a genuine adventure but in terms of accessibility it’s pretty family friendly. Even well-behaved dogs are welcome if they’re kept leashed so why not bring along Fido on your Peak District road trip?

Hike Mam Tor

At 517 metres, Mam Tor is amongst the tallest points in Peak District. Yet the hike to the summit is relatively easy and kid-friendly if you pack a good supply of snacks. It’s paved most of the way but it’s still a good idea to wear shoes with decent grip. The views from the top are gorgeous and stretch across Peak District to the Edale Valley and the Derwent Moors.

Where to stay in Peak District

The Peak District is dotted with charming towns and villages where you can base yourself. The lively market town of Bakewell is central and offers accommodation for every budget. It’s also the birthplace of Bakewell tarts, a classic English treat featuring layers of raspberry jam and frangipane topped with flaked almonds and wrapped in a short crust pastry shell. You’ll find them sold at bakeries across town.

Matlock is another popular base for a Peak District road trip and offers a good variety of cafes, pubs and restaurants. The annual Victorian Christmas Weekend held in the first weekend of December makes Matlock a great choice for a winter Peak District road trip.

Your set of wheels

Roads in Peak District are well-maintained and relatively easy to navigate. This makes it easy to visit Peak District with any type of car, whether it’s a 4WD with offroad capabilities or a compact supermini. Distances between towns, villages and attractions are relatively short which makes Peak District an EV-friendly destination.

Like all road trips, breakdowns can be a serious downer. Increase your chances of a stress-free Peak District road trip by setting off in a car that’s not only safe but reliable. Be sure to check your tyres before you set off and top up your fluids.

Explore Peak District with My Car Credit

Thinking about upgrading to a new set of wheels? With access to a reliable vehicle you can explore the Peak District along with other world-class road trip destinations across the British Isles, including Snowdonia in Wales, Isle of Skye in Scotland, the Cornish coast and beyond. Car finance can be a great way to increase your purchasing power and spread out the total cost of your new vehicle.  

Wondering how much car finance you qualify for? Find out more in our easy-to-digest guide and learn more about factors like your credit score and budgeting. At My Car Credit our goal is to get you behind the wheel of your ideal car faster and help you plan the Peak district road trip you’ve been dreaming of.

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