From remote and wild hilltops to peaceful dales, from rugged limestone escarpments to green meadows and river valleys, the Peak District National Park is a dramatic and fascinating landscape. Heather moorland and blanket bogs add to the mix.
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Covering 555 square miles (1438 sq. km) at the southern tip of the Pennines, the park, much of it privately owned, has the distinction of being Britainís first National Park (1951).
Shaped by both man and nature, the landscape offers a variety of habitats for wildlife. The dales are replete with species that include Jacobís ladder, alpine penncress and mountain pansy. The moors are home to a rich variety of insects and small animals: ring ouzel, fox, mountain hare and badger.
Limestone cliffs and crags offer challenges for climbers. Reservoirs provide opportunities for fishing, and public footpaths crisscross the landscape. Among the trail locations are Lose and Will Hills in High Peak, Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill in Dovedale, Alport Heights near Wirksworth, Mam Tor at Castleton and Oker Hill at Darley Dale.
Three types of rocks make up the bedrock of the area. The fossilized remains of sea creatures inhabit the sedimentary limestone plateau of the southern White Peak area. Water has carved the rock into steep-sided dales, and created caves. Eldon Hole is a 200-foot deep pothole, and the Giantís Hole measures 495 feet in depth. Lead mining was an important industry in this area from Roman times to the 1870s.
The Dark Peak is an area of high peat-covered moorland plateaus, sharp cliff edges of millstone grit rock, and blanket bogs. Below the high hills lie valleys of sedimentary shale where ancient woodland and wild flowers add to the landscape mix. While the valleys provide a venue for agriculture, the moorlands are home to sheep farming and grouse. Local rock is widely used in the drystone walls that characterize these pasturelands.
Axe Edge, a gritstone escarpment, offers dramatic views. The village of Flash, just south of Axe Edge End, claims to be the highest village in Britain at 1518 feet (463m) above sea level. From Axe Edge is a view of the second highest pub in England, the Cat and Fiddle, at 1690ft (515m) above sea level.
The Dales National Nature Reserve is home to mountain currant, bluebells and sweet woodruff. Bird watchers can spot willow warblers, spotted flycatchers and woodpeckers.
The Peak District National Park Authority
Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1AE
Tel. 01629 816200
Fax. 01629 816313
Photos by Barbara Ballard