Spend two days combining city style with country walks, first-class restaurants with cultural treasures, all of which you’ll find in and around the UK’s first-ever national park, the Peak District, and the neighboring city of Sheffield. The area boasts show-stopping attractions, such as the stately home of Chatsworth, but look a little deeper and you’ll encounter a whole raft of must-do experiences. Our itinerary is best experienced by car, so grab everything you need for 48 hours of countryside and city exploring and hit the road.
HOW TO GET HERE:
Sheffield is 2 hours north of London by train. The Peak District lies less than an hour from the cities of Manchester and Leeds (both around two hours by train from London), and around half an hour from Sheffield.
Part of the Peak District’s charm is its enviable landscapes and stunning geological make-up. Discover this is more depth by heading into Poole’s Cavern, an ancient natural limestone cavern with colossal illuminated rock-sculpted galleries to explore. Book a guided tour to understand the history of this magnificent underground scenery.
Head into the historic spa town of Buxton, where healing waters have been attracting visitors for centuries, and treat yourself to an indulgent spa treatment. For contemporary treatments in a historic setting, try out The Devonshire Spa retreat, part of the resplendent Devonshire Dome (a Grade II-listed building dating back to 1779). Elsewhere, the town’s Palace Hotel is a fine example of Victorian architecture yet one that houses modern-day spa facilities. And, come early 2020, there will also be the choice of The Crescent Hotel and Thermal Spa, which is being redeveloped as part of the Crescent Restoration project.
Head for lunch at the Columbine Restaurant, situated close to Buxton Opera House, and enjoy delicious dishes created with produce from small local suppliers in the area; the provenance of ingredients is easily traceable. You’ll enjoy creations such as High Peak lamb, Gressingham duck and a variety of English cheeses from its cheese board.
Drive 30 minutes from Buxton into the Peak District National Park to the village of Hathersage in the Hope Valley. From there, hike nine miles north to Stanage Edge. The gritstone edge stretches out to around four miles and delivers impressive views of the Dark Peak moorlands and across the valley. You may also recognise it from a scene in the film version of Pride & Prejudice, featuring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet.
There are a number of bed and breakfast options in the Hathersage area and you can also stay at The Plough Inn, which offers guests a choice of seven bedrooms and two shepherd huts. Equally charming is The George Hotel, a three-star hotel in Hathersage situated in an old coaching inn that dates back 500 years, and The Old Hall Hotel in Hope, five minutes from Hathersage, once a 16th-century coaching inn and now a cosy B&B.
Or head south to Baslow, just 15-minutes from Hathersage to the Cavendish Hotel, located on the Chatsworth Estate. The luxurious Baslow Hall is another nearby option, which offers 11 beautiful bedrooms; the Garden Rooms look out onto their own private walled courtyard garden, while there is also Cruck Barn, a romantic and secluded cottage.
Return to Hathersage and enjoy an early evening meal at The Plough Inn, a 16th-century inn located on the banks of the River Derwent. Feast on steaks from the grill, a variety of fish, and homemade pizzas on Fridays and Saturdays.
Just above Hathersage is one of the national park’s most magnificent viewpoints – the charmingly named Surprise View. While it’s a great spot to watch the sun set, it’s also one of the official ‘Dark Skies’ stargazing spots, meaning on a clear night you can witness the Peak District skies lit up by millions of twinkling stars.
With Sheffield's proximity to the Peak District, comes a variety of accommodation options to spend the night. You can opt to stay the night back in the Peak District at The Devonshire Arms, a charming village inn on the grounds of the Chatsworth Estate.
Outside the Peak District, and just nine miles north of the city is Wortley Hall, which sits on 26 acres of grounds, 11 belonging to the formal gardens. The ancestral home of the Earls of Wharncliffe for over 500 years is now home to 2 AA Rosettes restaurant, Ruddy Duck, featuring a menu with ingredients from the walled kitchen gardens of the home and local businesses. The Hall has 52 en suite bedrooms, including a grand Four Poster bedroom overlooking the gardens. Or stay right in the heart of Sheffield city center at Leopold Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel housed in a former boys grammar school converted to allow guests a comfortable stay in a contemporary environment.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to fabulous stately homes to visit in the Peak District and near Sheffield. A 25-minute drive outside Sheffield city center is Renishaw Hall, home to the Sitwell family for over 400 years. The Hall and surrounding vineyards are open for guided tours, meanwhile a walk around the Italianate gardens and a stop at the stylish cafe will complete a visit.
Alternatively, Hardwick Hall, a National Trust-owned property that was created in the 1500s by one of the most powerful women of Elizabethan England, the remarkable ‘Bess of Hardwick’, built to impress and is said to have ‘more glass than wall.’
A 25-minute drive will take you into central Sheffield. You can do it on your own or take a walk with Marcus Newton of Sheffield City Walking Tours who will introduce you to the city center on a 90-minute guided tour. See all the major visitor attractions including Sheffield City Hall, an art deco building, which hosts concerts, operas, ballets, shows and special events, Sheffield Cathedral, one of the city’s oldest buildings, and Sheffield Winter Garden, one of the largest temperate glasshouses built in the UK.
From rustic pubs and hip cafes to innovative restaurants, Sheffield city center has a host of lunch venues. Head to Blue Moon Cafe, serving a vegetarian and vegan friendly menu for more than 20 years. There’s also Craft & Dough for handcrafted pizzas and craft beers from all over the world, The Botanist for a light lunch and botanical inspired cocktails, and The Street Food Chef, a family run business serving burritos, tacos and quesadillas.
Find out what it was like to live in Sheffield during the Industrial Revolution at Kelham Island Museum. It’s located in the oldest industrial district and showcases objects and pictures to tell stories following the growth of the city from the Victorian Era through two World Wars. While browsing through the interactive galleries, you’ll be standing on a man-made island that’s more than 900 years old.
Or if you’re more of an art and design enthusiast, Millennium Gallery showcases metalwork from the past to recent contemporary art. Don’t miss the Ruskin Collection, by Victorian writer John Ruskin originally formed as part of a collection at a museum for Sheffield’s workers. The museum is free to enter.
A 10-minute drive out of the city center will take you to Rafters, an award-winning and Michelin listed restaurant. Expect Sheffield hospitality while being served a menu that changes regularly. Choose Experience One, their classic menu with three courses or hop aboard a culinary journey through their 10-course tasting menu.