The Peak District National Park is to England as Yellowstone is to the United States — that is, each is the first national park in its respective country, the first landscape deemed beautiful enough for official protection. In the case of the Peak District, national park status was granted in 1951, and it’s been attracting millions of visitors a year ever since to its rocky outcrops, rolling hillsides, and ancient stone villages.

Fly into Birmingham Airport — your gateway to England’s Heartland, with direct flights from the US — and you’re practically there (the park’s southern boundary is about an hour’s drive north of the city). Not yet convinced to book the trip? Scroll down and you will be.

1

The views are what it's all about...

The Peak District spans a whopping 555 square miles of England's Heartland. Fortunately, the area is home to plenty of viewpoints that let you take in dozens of those square miles at once. Bamford Edge is one of them—and one of the best. Several trails lead to the top of this panoramic spot over the Hope Valley, near the center of the park.
Photo: Visit Peak District

2

...and they come in all different shades.

Not surprisingly, all that gorgeous terrain is crisscrossed by tons of walking trails and hikes. To get to the view above, follow the road towards Derwent Dam, which will take you up past Ladybower Reservoir. After crossing open fields and moorlands, you'll climb above it all, taking in the best of the Derwent Valley. Instagram, get ready.
Photo: Adam Wyles

3

Here, you can tour monuments centuries in age...

The Peak District is home to a number of impressive homes and buildings, including one of the UK's "favorite country homes." Chatsworth House has been in the Cavendish family—the lineage of the Duke of Devonshire—since the 1500s. Rest assured it's as stately on the inside as you'd think. And the gardens? One hundred and five acres, and that includes a maze.
Photo: VisitEngland / Chatsworth House / Matthew Bullen

4

...or ones that stretch back millennia.

Nope, Stonehenge isn't as unique as you may think. Check out Arbor Low, a Neolithic henge monument of 50 white limestone slabs. They're all centered around a stone "cove," which indicates this was quite a significant site in its heyday.
Photo: Darren Fliders

5

Single trails connect multiple points of interest...

One of the most popular walks in the national park is along the Great Ridge, whose crest separates the Hope and Edale Valleys. From here you can walk to Mam Tor (perhaps the most famous hill in the park), Cave Dale, and Peveril Castle.
Photo: Visit Peak District

6

...but walking isn't the only way to get around.

Why walk through a national park when you can travel via waterfall? Guided by one of the many outfitters in the area, you can explore the park's gorges, natural pools, and cascades...but the best part? When you traverse the landscape this way, the only crowds you'll run into will be the sheep.
Photo: VisitEngland / Peak Pursuits

7

Always, the views loom large.

What you can't tell from this photo is that the Seated Man sculpture is 10 feet tall. You'll need to hike a half mile to see him, and once you're there, decide which camp you fall into: Is it a creative homage to the landscape, or art better befitting a museum? Either way, crowds are flocking to this bronze giant on Westerdale Moor.
Photo: Paul Massey

8

Dams back home don't look like this, do they?

The six-mile walk around the Ladybower Reservoir is a tried-and-true favorite. And those old cottages you'll see along the way? The only remains of the flooded Derwent village.
Photo: Darren Flinders

9

Belay on.

Climbers, rejoice. Stanage Edge is one of the most famous rock climbing spots in all of the UK. It may be small, but it packs a punch—especially at sunset. Find it just northeast of Hathersage.
Photo: Alejandro Castro Mouzo

Learn more about: The Peak District & Derbyshire
10

It's not all rolling hills and forest...

Tideswell village, or "Tidza," as the locals call it, has been around the block a time or two. Located near the park's midpoint, parts of this hamlet are old, with history that can be traced back to the 1200s. Stop by the village for a pint or a coffee, and take a moment to get acquainted with the "Cathedral of the Peak," the church of St. John the Baptist. It's been around since the 14th century.
Photo: VisitEngland / Visit Peak District / Linda Bussey

11

...and it's not all sheep!

On any walk through the Peak District, you may run into a few unexpected inhabitants. Yes, Highland cattle are perfectly at home here, which should tell you something!
Photo: Chris Morriss

12

The Peak District brings your favorite stories to life...

If this Middle Ages setting looks familiar to you, you're not wrong—you've seen it in Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice, The Princess Bride, and a handful of other period films. With sections dating back to the 12th century, Haddon Hall is widely regarded as one of the most "romantic" homes in all of Britain. Yes, a home. Apparently, life in the Middle Ages wasn't so rough for everyone.
Photo: VisitEngland / Ian Daisley / Visit Peak District

13

...while inspiring you to invent your own.

Humans have been roaming these hills for thousands of years. On any of your treks through the park, you're bound to run into artifacts—some ancient, some not so ancient—that will evoke the spirit of the Peak District.
Photo: Reflected Serendipity

14

You can scramble on the Roaches...

You've always wanted to "weasel" your way through a natural obstacle course, right? That's the kind of environment the Roaches provide. The Staffordshire Moorlands are full of awesome climbing opportunities for all levels, the terrain being mostly limestone or gritstone. Free climbing is popular, too.
Photo: VisitEngland / Peak Pursuits

15

...and bike along Mam Tor.

The views from Mam Tor are certainly spectacular, but the draw runs much, much deeper. For starters, the summit was the site of a Bronze Age fort from the 1200s BC. And the base is equally remarkable, home to four caves open to the public—and, yes, you're welcome to go spelunking.
Photo: Paul Stevenson

16

You can follow in the footsteps of pioneers...

The Pennine Way, a national trail, stretches for 268 miles across England. One awesome section is Kinder Scout in the Peak District. It was here that outdoors enthusiasts staged a peaceful protest in 1932 to demand access to what was at that time privately held land in England, an action that led to the creation of the park itself.
Photo: Mathew Phillips

17

...or walk in the tracks of glaciers.

Climb Higger Tor from Longshaw and circle back along the distinctive rocks of Burbage Edge—a quick 4.5-mile walk, but one of the park's most rewarding. And in spring? Everything will be cloaked in purple.
Photo: Visit Peak District

18

Bring your hiking boots, and this is you in the Peak District.

England's first national park is built for walking and hiking. There are dozens and dozens of miles to explore here, and your only limitation is time. For a Sunday stroll, check out Dovedale or Mam Tor. If your boots are of the sturdier type, go for Kinder Scout or Eyam. Or, better yet—come and see where the wind takes you.
Photo: Kyle Taylor

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This post is proudly produced in partnership with VisitBritain, Visit Birmingham, Visit Peak District, and Shakespeare's England.