These 7 amazing places in the Peak District are perfect for leaf peeping as autumn begins to take hold of the British countryside. There are few places that can rival the Peak District National Park in England as there’s miles and miles of unspoilt rolling hills and farmland surrounding several beautiful towns and villages.
1 – Chatsworth House & Gardens
Chatsworth House is still home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, who are the 16th generation to inherit this stunning 1,000 acre estate in the Peak District. In the autumn Chatsworth Garden is a spectacular display of colour, particularly around the Grotto House and Pond where vibrant reds and yellows are reflected in the still waters below (pictured above).
Another beauty spot to enjoy the seasonal colours is the Rock Garden & Strid, I took some time to pause here for a moment on a bench to admire the amazing garden features and waterfall, designed for the 6th Duke after his trip to the Alps.
There’s 105 acres of gardens to enjoy at Chatsworth, I could’ve spent the entire day wandering around the various garden areas, so if your legs get tired from exploring the house (which is absolutely well worth seeing), you can take a short tour of the gardens on a trolley car which starts and stops near the shop and exit of Chatsworth House.
2 – Beeley, Edensor and Pilsley
The villages of Beeley, Edensor and Pilsley are on the Chatsworth estate and are remarkably well kept. Interestingly Edensor was located close to Chatsworth, but the 6th Duke thought it spoilt the countryside views from the house so had the whole village rebuilt over the hill!
You can still walk to Edensor from Chatsworth House and photograph a wonderful autumn scene of the village from the hillside, dominated by the parish church and surrounding farmland speckled with sheep.
On a crisp autumn day you can warm up inside the cosy confines of Edensor Tea Cottage or the sister venue called The Old Smithy in Beeley, both of which serve an excellent breakfast using locally sourced ingredients.
3 – Mam Tor
Mam Tor or ‘Mother Hill’ is a magnificent viewpoint in the Peak District to hike up in the autumn, fair weather permitting. Mam Nick car park is located less than a mile from the summit so it’s actually a fairly quick walk to do up and down (or there’s a longer 3 mile circular walk), depending on your level of fitness of course.
Although it’s a fairly steep walk up initially, it’s a well trodden stone path that rewards you with a commanding view over Castleton and miles of rural countryside.
4 – Ashford in the Water
Ashford in the Water is on the edge of the River Wye and is filled with pretty grey stone cottages, some of which are adorned with red ivy in the autumn. In the centre of the village is the Holy Trinity Church with 13th century origins, and nearby is a lovely tea room, pub and convenience store. All in all Ashford in the Water is a very quintessential village in the Derbyshire Dales and is just a few miles from the next location where there is plenty more to see and do.
5 – Buxton
The Roman spa town of Buxton has been attracting people for centuries for its mineral waters that were thought to be therapeutic, even Mary Queen of Scots came here in the summer to ‘take the waters’ for her rheumatism.
A crisp and sunny autumn day in Buxton’s Pavilion Gardens is something both locals and visitors must savour every moment of, partially because it’s the highest market town in Britain with its own microclimate and has seen rare snowfall in June! The gardens are also very beautiful with water features and pathways meandering through trees shedding their summer coat.
The gardens are overlooked by a large glass Pavilion containing an arts centre, cafe and event space, so there’s still plenty of things to do if the weather in Buxton takes a turn. If the rain pours or the cold wind howls, you could watch a stage show at the Buxton Opera House, shop inside Cavendish Arcade (be sure to call in to Charlotte’s Chocolatier and Cafe), learn about the history through a Character Tour, or embark on the Buxton Crescent Visitor Experience. Alternatively, take a tour of Poole’s Cavern, it’s a large underground chamber that has been attracting visitors for centuries!
6 – Bakewell
The local tourism board’s tagline for Bakewell is the ‘heart of the Peak District’, no doubt referring to both its geographical position and how popular it is with visitors to the area. Whats more, the town is where the Bakewell tart and pudding originated, a much loved dessert in Britain, and there’s plenty of shops and bakeries selling this scrumptious sweet treat, including The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop and the Bakewell Pudding Factory.
Autumn in the Peak District is a lovely time to visit as it comes after the busy summer holidays and the cooler weather makes the Bakewell bakeries and tea rooms that bit more inviting. There’s also an authentic Austrian coffee house in Bakewell where you can try sausages imported directly from Vienna!
I didn’t have time to visit Haddon Hall on this trip, but it’s a highly recommended place to visit (and top of my list for when I’m next in the area) and sits just outside of Bakewell town with a beautifully preserved Medieval Park to explore.
7 – Milldale
The sleepy village of Milldale is nestled deep in a valley forged by the River Dove. Surrounded by tree-filled hills, the highest just catching the low autumn sun, it feels so remote and disconnected from the rest of the world and paints a picture of an idyllic quaint country life where your neighbour sells fresh eggs from their garden hatch.
The 3 mile Milldale to Dovedale walk (and vice versa) is very popular, though you wouldn’t know it on a quiet late afternoon in October.
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