PEAK DISTRICT NATIONAL PARK
A green cushion among England’s industrial giants of Manchester, Sheffield, and Nottingham, Britain’s first national park sprawls across 1400sq. km of rolling hills and windswept moors, offering a playground for its 22 million urban neighbors.
TRANSPORTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION
The invaluable Peak District Timetable (60p), available at tourist offices, has transport routes and a map. Two train lines originate in Manchester and enter the park from the west: one stops at Buxton, near the park’s edge (lhr. every hr. £5.70), and the other crosses the park (lVhr. 9-17 per day) via Edale (£6.70), Hope, and Hather-sage, terminating in Sheffield (£11). Trent (a (01773) 712 2765) bus TP, the Transpeak, departs from Manchester to Nottingham (3hr. 6 per day), stopping at Buxton, Bakewell, Matlock, Derby, and other towns in between. First PMT (a(01782) 207 999) #X18 leaves from Sheffield for Bakewell (45min. M-Sa 5 per day). First Mainline (a (01709) 515 151) #272 and Stagecoach East Midland (a (01246) 211007) #273 and 274 depart from Sheffield to Castleton (40-55min. 12-15 per day). The Derbyshire Wayfarer, available at tourist offices, allows one day of train and bus travel through the Peak District as far as Sheffield and Derby (£7.50).
The National Park Information Centres (NPICs) at Bakewell, Castleton, and Edale offer walking guides. Info is also available at tourist offices in Buxton (a (01298) 25 106) and Matlock Bath (a(01629) 55 082). There are 20 YHA Youth Hostels in the park (Dorms £8-15). For Bakewell, Castleton, and Edale, see below; the Buxton YHA, Harpur Hill Rd. can be reached at a (0870) 770 5738, while the Matlock YHA, 40 Bank Rd. can be contacted at a (01629) 582 983. To stay at the 13 YHA Camping Barns O throughout the park (£4 per person), book ahead at the Camping Barns Reservation Office, 6 King St. Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 2EP (a (0870) 770 6113). The park operates six Cycle Hire Centres (£12.50 per day); a free brochure, Peak Cycle Hire, available at NPICs, includes phone numbers, hours, and locations.
CASTLETON. The main attraction in Castleton (pop. 705) is liTreak Cliff Cavern, which hides seams of Blue John, a mineral found only in these hills. (40min. tours every 15-30min. Open Easter-Oct. daily from 10am, last tour between 4-5pm.; Nov.-Feb. 10am-3:20pm; Mar.-Easter 10am-4:20pm. £5.60, students £4.50.) Castleton lies 3.2km west of Hope. The Castleton NPIC is on Buxton Rd. (a (01433) 620 679. Open Apr.-Oct. daily 10am-lpm and 2-5:30pm; Nov.-Mar. Sa-Su 10am-5pm.) YHA Castleton is in Castleton Hall, a pretty country house in the heart of town, (a(01433) 620 235. Kitchen available. Internet access. Book 2-3 weeks in advance. Open Feb. to late Dec. Dorms £12-14, under-18 £9-10.)
BAKEWELL AND EDALE. The town of Bakewell, 50km southeast of Manchester, is the best base from which to explore the region; several scenic walks through the White Peaks begin nearby. Bakewell’s NPIC is in Old Market Hall, at Bridge St. (01629) 813 227. Open Mar.-Oct. daily 9:30am-5:30pm; Nov.-Feb. 10am-5pm.)