While the Peak District may be the home of epic landscapes laden with undulating hills, brooding moors and enchanting forests, there are also numerous picturesque towns and villages waiting to be explored. Boasting traditional tea rooms, country pubs and independent shops to browse, you can easily while away a glorious day, soaking up the local atmosphere and relaxing in marvellous surroundings.
Here are our favourite towns and villages in the Peak District which, we think, are some of the most beautiful.
Located in the heart of the White Peak along the River Wye, the chocolate box village of Ashford-in-the-Water is home to the medieval Sheepwash Bridge - the most photographed bridge in Britain - along with lovely old limestone cottages with beautifully tended gardens, two friendly inns and a charming 13th century church. This picture-postcard Peak District destination is particularly impressive during well-dressing season in early summer when the six wells dotted around the village are adorned with a colourful display of lovingly-created local artwork.
Whilst you’re there: Sheepwash Bridge has been named as the best location in the country to play the much-loved game of ‘Poohsticks’. This perfect pastime (Winnie the Pooh’s favourite game) of floating sticks on fast-flowing rivers is sure to get the whole family’s competitive juices flowing.
Known as the heart of the Peak District and set on the pretty banks of the River Wye, Bakewell is a magnet for painters, photographers and sightseers alike. Visitors can look forward to scenic riverside walks, a wealth of heritage and history, and storybook stone buildings home to independent shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes. Ringed by famous walking trails and stately homes, and renowned for its weekly market, this idyllic town is the perfect base for a Peak District holiday.
Whilst you’re there: Sample the town’s eponymous delicacy, Bakewell Pudding, a pastry shell filled with jam and frangipane which was famously created by mistake by a local cook in the mid-19th century.
Boasting an enviable location in the Hope Valley with Mam Tor and Winnat’s Pass providing breath-taking backdrops, Castleton is a gem of a Peak District village. Wander along streets lined with leaning stone houses, traditional pubs, cafes offering the most delicious homemade cake, and a tranquil little stream that gently trickles downhill. Walking trails criss-cross the surrounding hills, the atmospheric ruins of Peveril Castle crown the ridge above, and deep below the village lie some of the Peak District’s most magnificent show caves.
Whilst you’re there: Castleton is the only place in the world where the semi-precious stone Blue John, unique to the Peak District and Derbyshire, can be found. Visit the village’s jewellery shops to purchase a stunning piece of Blue John jewellery to take home as a souvenir.
Surrounded by rolling countryside and the celebrated walking route, The Pennine Way, the quintessential Peak District village of Edale is an enchanting place to pass some time. Located in the unspoiled Vale of Edale, this cluster of characterful stone houses centred around an inviting parish church has a population of just over 300. The two country pubs are the perfect place to enjoy a hearty meal and warm up by the fire after a brisk stroll up nearby Kinder Scout, where awe-inspiring views await.
Whilst you’re there: Be sure to visit the Moorlands Visitor Centre, an inspirational place dedicated to moorland research, where you can pick up great hints and tips to make your stay in the Peak District even more memorable.
Although steeped in tragic history, the village of Eyam is a captivating place to visit and marvel its rows of attractive stone cottages displaying handsome gardens, backed by rows of lush green hills. Hidden away above the limestone peaks of Middleton Dale, this Peak District beauty spot is best known for being a ‘quarantined village’ during the time of the bubonic plague. Rather than risk spreading the disease, the brave villagers decided to isolate themselves and it is due to this that there are plaques on many of the cottages dedicated to the story of the people who lived and died in them.
Whilst you’re there: Explore the church of St Lawrence which boasts one of the best preserved eighth century Celtic Crosses in the country. You can also discover more about the village’s intriguing past at its museum in the old school house or at Eyam Hall, owned by the National Trust.
The upland village of Tideswell is surrounded by high limestone ‘mountains’ on all sides. Ablaze with colour in the summer, with fragrant blooms spilling over hanging baskets and flower tubs everywhere, this thriving village is the perfect place to experience true Peak District charm. Its 14th century church of St John the Baptist, with its striking pinnacle tower, is lovingly known as the ‘Cathedral of the Peak’ and houses notable monuments and woodcarvings. After a day well spent hiking in the surrounding countryside, this is the ideal spot to enjoy some refreshments while taking in mesmerising views.
Whilst you’re there: At the southern end of the village is Tideswell Dale, where there is a nature reserve and a picnic area featuring a delightful sculpture trail to explore.
The unspoilt estate village of Tissington surrounds a splendid Jacobean residence, Tissington Hall. Throughout the town visitors will find quaint limestone cottages with perfectly manicured gardens, as well as a fine church and duck pond - it is quite possibly as near to rural idyll as you can get. If you visit on or shortly after Ascension Day, take the time to seek out the village wells which are dressed in wonderful displays of flower petals for a local tradition.
Whilst you’re there: Passing by the village, the Tissington Trail is the perfect way for walkers, cyclists and horse riders to discover some spectacular Peak District scenery before or after their visit.
If you have been inspired by these beautiful towns and villages in the Peak District, browse our collection of holiday cottages in the Peak District and find the perfect hideaway for a staycation to remember. We would love to see your favourite holiday moments; simply tag us and use #sheepskinlife for the chance to be featured on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages.
For more great inspiration for your Peak District holiday, have a read of our '10 reasons to visit the Peak District' blog.