The national parks of the UK are each unique areas, offering up their own amazing landscapes, attractions and traditions to visitors from all over the world. These areas are protected by law so visitors and locals alike can continue enjoying these natural havens without the danger of them being ruined or destroyed. This post will Focus on the Peak District and discusses 14 unbelievable facts that set it apart from the others. Enjoy!
1. First National Park in the UK
The first of our Peak District facts is that in 1951 the Peak District became the UK’s first national park. Since then 14 national parks have been added to the list. National parks are regions which are protected as they have particularly beautiful landscape, wildlife and rural cultural heritage.
2. The UK’s first long distance footpath, The Pennine Way, starts in The Peak District
The Pennine Way is a 268 mile long trail which starts in the Derbyshire town of Edale and finishes at Kirk Yetholm just over the border to Scotland. It was officially opened in the spring of 1965 and has become the most famous long-distance walk in the United Kingdom, opening up access to some of the most remote areas of the country. To walk the full length of the trail will take approximately 17/18 days, so is not a challenge for the faint of heart.
3. There are no mountains in the Peak District
Despite the name, the Peak District isn’t home to any mountains. Instead, the landscape is littered with hundreds of hills and dales, the tallest of which is Kinder Scout. This hill has a peak at 636m above sea level. Many visitors accept the challenge of scaling Kinder Scout in search of the breathtaking views that await those who make it to the top. The rolling hills of the Peak District are the reason why it is regarded by many as the most picturesque and idyllic national park.
4. The Peak District is famous for its caves
The caves and caverns of the Peak District attract visitors from all over the world. The deepest of which extends 400m below the surface! The area surrounding the small village of Castleton is a great place to find cave and caverns to explore, with the likes of Blue John Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern being situated here. I would highly recommend a visit, with a fantastic self-guided audio tour of Treak Cliff Cavern being available.
5. The Peak District is often used as a location for filming
Many well-known movies and TV shows have been created against the beautiful backdrop of the Peak District. Chatsworth House for example, was used as the main setting for the 2005 film, Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. Scenes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the BBC’s version of Jayne Eyre also featured Peak District locations as their backdrops.
6. The symbol of the Peak District is a millstone
The next of our Peak District facts is that the symbol of this national park is a millstone. These huge stone “wheels” have hole in the middle and was used for creating flour in a mill. These symbols can be found throughout the Peak District, the greatest of which can be seen near Hathersage and is said to weigh in excess of 3 tonnes!
7. It is separated into two areas- the Dark Peak and the White Peak
With a particularly varied landscape, the Peak District is often considered to have two halves, separated mostly by their geology. The Dark Peak features shale and grit-stone, whereas the White Peak is predominantly light coloured limestone. The two regions are very distinct and yet, are located very close to each other.
8. The Peak District is easily accessed
Being central in England, the Peak District is only a short journey from the majority of the nation. For example someone could conceivably travel from London to the heart of this national park in under 3 hours. Visitors from Manchester could be there in less than 45 minutes! The central nature of the Peak District helps to attract more than 13 million visitors each year.
9. It’s a haven for cyclists
The countless trails and off-road cycle routes provide cyclists with miles and miles of traffic-free enjoyment. Many bike hire centres can be found dotted around for those who are looking for a day of escapism with their loved ones while improving their health and fitness.
10. Open-access land makes up more than 200 square miles of the Peak District
There are parts of the countryside where the public has a right to freely explore and exercise their “right to roam”, and the Peak District has this in abundance. This freedom helps attract those visitors with an urge to explore the landscape without following defined routes or trails. This open access land makes up more then 200 square miles of the Peak District.
11. The Peak District is home to 2900 listed buildings
There are around 2900 buildings that are considered to be of great significance to the historical culture of the area and also the country within the Peak District. Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall are two of the most significant buildings in this category. They have played a huge part in the history of the area, and are a great place to visit!
12. Nearly 90% is farmland
With over 1800 farms, grazing cattle, sheep and other animals are a common sight across the landscape. The products produced by farms in the national park are eligible to be sold with a “Peak District Produce” label, a common sight throughout the markets of the area.
This area has been home to farmers of sorts for in excess of 5000 years with early neolithic settlements being situated here.
13. A distinctive custom of the Peak District is the “Well-dressing”
Believed to have originated as a Pagan ceremony whereby the villagers would show gratitude to the gods for providing fresh water. The annual tradition involves covering wells with petals and leaves crafted into elaborate designs and eye catching scenes. These ceremonies are common in villages in and around the Peak District, usually occurring in April and May.
14. The Peak District has a famous geothermal spring
The final of our Peak District facts is that the town of Buxton (as well as being the highest market town in the country) is home to one of the few geothermal springs in Britain. The water in this spring surfaces at a 28°C. The water from this spring is bottled nearby and distributed all across the world as “Buxton Mineral Water”. Visitors to the spring are welcome to fill their own water bottles here free of charge.
For more posts about travel, holiday recommendations and fascinating facts, check out some of the other posts on Place Ranger!