Autumn is a great time of year to visit anywhere in the peak district and with such a wide range of landscapes to explore, it is well worth a trip at this time of year. Autumn boasts some of the most vibrant colours, the most full waterfalls and the crisp, cool weather that is perfect for hiking! While you can’t go wrong wherever you go in the Peak District there are definitely a few places that really come alive in this season. So read on to find out about the best places to visit in the Peak District in Autumn.
Derwent Reservoir is between Howdon Reservoir and Ladybower Reservoir in the upper Derwent Valley in the North of Derbyshire. The reservoir is man-made, with production beginning in 1960 and taking 7 years to complete. It is a working reservoir owned by Severn Trent Water and providing most of the surrounding area with fresh water but it is also very popular for days out and sports. There are several walks around the reservoir of varying lengths but the most popular is a 3.5 mile/6km multi-use trail perfect for walking, cycling and horse riding. If you wanted a more challenging trail, it is about 10 miles/16km to go around Howdon and Derwent reservoirs or about 15 miles/25km to do this plus Ladybower reservoir. Autumn is the perfect time to visit the Dewent Reservoirs as the dramatic colours of the leaves makes for an impressive backdrop to the water.
Eyam is a small village in the peak district that is not so well known to people outside of the area. While it may not be so popular for visitors it has quite a well-known and rather dark history. Eyam is known as the plague village due to how the town reacted during the great plague of 1665. The plague arrived at Eyam through some contaminated cloth sent from London and pretty soon it was spreading like wildfire through the village. The villagers started to put various methods in place to slow the spread such as having church services outdoors and families being in charge of burying their own dead. Eventually, with the advice of the local rector, the villagers agreed to quarantine the whole village to stop the plague from circulating to the wider area. Eyam was essentially cut off from all contact with the surrounding villages apart from local merchants who left supplies on rocks at the boundary. The rocks had holes carved into them where the villages could place coins. These holes were then filled with vinegar to disinfect the money. Over the course of 14 months, the plague ran rampant in Eyam and at least 260 villages ended up dying from it but quarantining the village did successfully stop it from spreading to other local areas. With such a dark and sad history, obviously, Eyam is supposedly haunted which makes it the perfect place to visit during Autumn and Halloween. Ghosts have been sighted in the Plague Cottages (where the contaminated cloth first arrived in the village), Eyam Hall and the Miner’s Arms pub. If you visit Eyam nowadays, other than the places mentioned above, you will find a museum documenting the village’s history, the boundary stones used for transferring supplies and the Riley graves where Elizabeth Hancock buried her husband and all 6 of her children in the space of a week. There are also several cosy cafes, tea rooms, guest houses and of course plenty of great walks in the area. Eyam is even home to a youth hostel so it’s great for a budget trip!
Autumn is the perfect time to visit Chatsworth with so much to do at this time of year. The Chatsworth Estate covers about 35,000 acres and contains the main house, formal gardens, stables, farmyard, parkland and woodland. Stand Wood located behind Chatsworth House and entered near to the farmyard is especially beautiful at this time of year and is well worth spending some time exploring. Another perk of visiting Chatsworth in the Autumn is that even if the weather is bad, you can still spend a day out in the peak district by visiting the house and stables instead. Even the farm shop is decked out with all the seasonal produce you could ask for. There are plenty of Autumnal plants to be found around the formal gardens and as it is harvest season, the kitchen and cutting garden is full to bursting at this time of year! If you don’t want to pay for entrance into the house and gardens, the park and woods are free to enter. Autumn is conker season and there are plenty of horse-chestnut trees around the estate. You can spend an entire day searching for the best of these ready to play the traditional Autumn game of conkers! And if all of this isn’t enough of a reason to take a visit to Chatsworth, September to November is the peak rutting season for deer, of which there are around 450 semi-wild fallow and red deer on the estate. Although there is no guarantee that you’ll see them rut (fighting over mates) this is the best time of year to be in with a chance.
Autumn is a great time to visit Matlock Bath for one main reason! While, of course, it is nice to see the surrounding area with all the Autumn colours, the main draw to Matlock Bath at this time of the year is the Illuminations. These run over September and October and have been going since 1897, the year of Queen Victoria’s diamond Jubilee. Each year, the Matlock Bath Venetian Boat Builders Association decorate their boats with fun and creative light displays and parade them down the river Derwent. The Matlock illuminations predate the Blackpool illuminations and were originally called the Venetian Fete as many of the boats originally looked like Venetian Gondolas and were lit by candlelight. As time went on, the designs of the boats have got more creative and extravagant, the candles were swapped for electric (although one boat is still lit by candlelight each year to keep up with tradition) and more features were added. If you were to visit Matlock Bath during this time of year, you would find a bright and bustling town with shops and restaurants open late, Dewent Gardens alight with various light displays, live music, fairground rides and even fireworks at the end of some of the busiest nights. Matlock Bath is well worth the visit in Autumn.
It’s always the right time of year to visit Mam Tor but Autumn is especially good. The spectacular views over Hope Valley get even better with the bright orange and red colours of Autumn. Mam Tor is one of the most popular hikes in the Peak District but with the drop in temperature, there are suddenly a lot fewer people around than in the midst of summer despite the fact this is the perfect weather for hiking without getting too sweaty. There are several different routes up Mam Tor ranging from approximately 3 miles/5km to 20 miles/32km. You can start from any of the nearby villages or car parks but most people start from Castleton. In the village of Castleton you will find pubs, tea rooms, a takeaway, several guest houses and even a visitor centre.
Padley Gorge is a wooded ravine located on the border between Derbyshire and Yorkshire on the East of the Peak District. It is surrounded by open moorland and is part of the Longshaw Estate which is managed by the National Trust. Down the centre of the gorge runs the Burbage Brook which starts its life up in the Sheffield Moors. The whole area has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest since 1972 as “the best example of the remnant oak-birch woodland that once covered much of the edges of the gritstone uplands of the Peak District”. It also is home to several rare plants and birds and is the furthest inland temperate rainforest in the UK. In the Autumn, Padley Gorge is especially magical with the brilliant colours, gnarled trees and rushing water of the brook. There are several different walking routes of varying lengths that go through Padley Gorge so it is perfect for people of all abilities.
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