Our fabulous Peak District holiday expert, Wendy Boast offers these suggestions on things to do in the Peak District that will keep your purse in your bag and your wallet firmly in your pocket. Pack your walking boots - as you'll be racking up the miles here on holiday in the Peak District - although there are cycling options too. We have added a holiday cottage that we feel would be a suitable place to stay near each free 'experience'. Click on the cottage name to view its listing on My Favourite Holiday Cottages.


If the activity appeals but not the cottage, for a wider choice, Click here to view all our Peak District Holiday Cottages.


Over to you Wendy...


Whether you are visiting with family or friends or coming for some peace and quiet, the stunning countryside of the Peak District National Park, offers access for free in many beautiful rural settings.


A few of our favourite places to walk with family or friends in particular are:


1. Walk or Ride The Marvellous Monsal Trail 

Around 8 miles of traffic free walking (or cycling) on a former Midland Railway line with some heritage trails and information along the way.  

And not forgetting the six tunnels, which at points are dark (although lit) and well worth walking through at least a couple of them.

There’s also the Monsal Viaduct with stunning views, the lime kilns to see and the old Miller’s Dale station. 

Where to Stay: Riverside House, Sleeps 12




2. Leg it Around Ladybower Reservoir 


Ladybower Reservoir is a naturally stunning area situated in the Upper Derwent Valley and surrounded by lovely countryside. 


A walk along Ladybower's shores is aerfect for family and dog walking as it is mostly flat with some wooded areas.  

It’s about an hours’ walk each way to the dam and with low water levels in high summer, you can see areas of the old flooded village.

Where to Stay: Birch Cottage, Sleeps 8: 




3. Do Dovedale

Dovedale is a renowned beauty spot in the Peak District and is perfect for picnics when the weather is good.   A lovely leisurely walk for a large group of friends.

The two to three mile stretch of the river Dove from Milldale (parking, toilets, a café and always plenty of hungry ducks for feeding here) has limestone gorges, caves, wooden bridges and the famous stepping stones across the Dove to explore along the way. 

Where to Stay: Valley View, Sleeps 15






4. Clamber Kinder

And for those that are more energetic (and not recommended for young children) why not climb Kinder Scout the highest point in the Peak District?  

On clear days you can see all the way to Snowdonia.  

Start in Edale and allow at least five hours.

Where to Stay: Hazelhead House. Sleeps 12





5. Go Gardening in Buxton 

A lovely spa town that is undergoing a revival with the restoration of the Grade I listed Crescent and Spa.  It’s well worth peeking at the work in hand.  

There’s also 23 acres of gardens in the Grade II listed Pavilion Gardens, all accessible for free.  And if that’s not enough why not sample the famous Buxton mineral water for free at St Anne’s well near the Crescent?  

Take some supplies home – just bring some empty bottles.

Where to Stay: Red Hurst at Farditch Farm. Sleeps 6




6. Feed The Birds in Bakewell (for less than tuppence a bag)

Bakewell can be touristy, but one of the great pleasures here is to feed the 100s (or so it seems) of ducks and geese that float around on the river in the centre of the town by the bridges (bring plenty of stale bread).  

Wandering the narrow streets and taking in the touristy and quirky shops can be a pleasurable distraction.  For families the Bakewell recreation ground is about 12 acres popular for walking, cycling and flying kites.  There’s a children’s play area here, two croquet lawns and from 1 April to 1 September free wet play for kids too.

Where to Stay: River Cottage, Sleeps 4






7. Capture A Castle (on film) in Castleton 

Castleton is a lovely village located in the middle of the Peak District National Park. It is known as the ‘Gem of the Peaks’ with attractions including the ruins of Peveril Castle (not free entry), St Edmunds Church and there’s beautiful scenery wherever you look around you.  


Castleton is surrounded on three sides by steep hills with the most imposing section Mam Tor a famous spot in the Peak District. There are plenty of shops to fill in the time too and the visitor centre is worth a visit.

Where to Stay: Clematis, Sleeps 4



8. Get Wet on (the Water

Carsington Water is a great spot to watch the water sports taking place on the reservoir and for younger families there is a play area and visitor centre.  Picnic tables are also available so bring lunch with you.  

And if you have bikes there’s a family friendly three mile trail or try cycling the whole of the reservoir on the eight mile trail.

Where to Stay: Swiers Farmhouse, Sleeps 18






9. Peak Pedal Power

There’s plenty of traffic free cycling in the Peak District.  As well as the Monsal Trail and Carsington Water already mentioned, there’s excellent cycle routes on the Tissington Trail and High Peak Trail.  


All for free of course!

Where to Stay: Church Barn, Sleeps 2





10: Your Turn! Share Your Suggestion?

If you would like to add any further free activities to enjoy on holiday in the Peak District, feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section below (it's free!!).