There is something deeply romantic about roaming and camping in the Peak District and its wild moorlands. Exploring the hills and valleys in England’s oldest national park is a popular pastime for many ramblers and outdoor enthusiasts. Still, solitude can be easily found in the countryside.
We love camping in the Peak District, so below we show you some of the best campsites in the Peak District. We then share information on wild camping, along with our favourite wild camping spots in the Peak District!
Peak District facts:
- The Peak District National Park was founded in 1951 and is England’s first national park.
- It’s not abundant in peaks, despite its name, which allegedly comes from Pecsaetan, the Anglo-Saxon tribe who once populated this part of England.
- The national park is mostly located in northern Derbyshire but also crosses into Yorkshire and Cheshire.
- Its highest peak is Kinder Scout at 636m tall.
- There is plenty of countryside to explore, but the area is also home to a multitude of quaint towns and villages.
Camping in the Peak District: A Holiday That Never Disappoints!
The Peak District is split into two sections – the White Peak and the Dark Peak.
Although it sounds ominous, the Dark Peak is stunning and best characterised by its sweeping moorlands and gritstone escarpments. Meanwhile, the White Peak is a tad livelier with its quaint villages and gorgeous limestone dales.
Both areas offer places to camp and wild camp with breath-taking vistas and prime positions to enjoy outdoor activities or marvel at the local wildlife.
If you’re planning a walking and camping holiday, then a good map – like this one for the White Peak and this one for the Dark Peak – as well as a good walking book – such as this – will be important.
Below are some of the best campsites in the Peak District, then we look at wild camping in the Peak District!
The Best Campsites in the Peak District for Fun, Views & Adventure
1. Upper Hurst Farm, Hartington
The farm has a small eco-friendly campsite with 360° panoramic views of the beautiful Manifold Valley. It’s near the village of Hartington and offers camping, glamping, and caravanning.
The facilities are modern and clean, and you can even get electric hook ups in the tend pitches! On top of that there’s free WiFi, a huge 4.5 acre field for sports complete with goal posts, and some children’s play equipment. All of that makes this place great for kids.
The glamping yurts have fantastic facilities and are surrounded by hedgerows and trees with scenic views of the rolling Peak District hills. They feel private and quite special.
This campsite is also close to the Beresford Dale and many wonderful hiking trails. Perfect for outdoor adventures!
2. North Lees Campsite, Stanage Edge
Just over a mile from Hathersage is the North Lees campsite. Run by the Peak District National Park, this campsite is surrounded by stunning views and is ideal for those looking for a quiet camp.
However North Lees is probably better suited for those traveling with small tents as the ground is a bit uneven. Hence, it’s not for those looking for a caravan style campsite on flat ground.
The facilities include showers and toilets, but nothing fancy. Ideally, this is for people looking to enjoy the world-class bouldering, climbing and hiking nearby. It’s also perfect for cyclists and hikers.
3. Hayfield Camping Club Site
In the Dark Peak area is Hayfield Camping Club Site, the starting point for the Peak District’s most beautiful walks and challenging climbs. It’s also close to the village of Hayfield, which is a comfortable distance to walk.
From here, you can climb Lantern Pike for a panoramic view over the seven counties or get to Kinder Scout. All of which makes this a fantastic campsite for those looking to really enjoy the Peak District.
On-site facilities at this campsite, which is set in a beautiful wooded valley, include a washroom, children’s play area, and a small shop. Hayfield is also dog friendly!
4. Callow Top Holiday Park, Ashbourne
Callow Top is an award-winning site suitable for campers, caravanners, or a self-catering holiday, which sits right beside the Callow Inn.
It’s ideally located near the Dovedale Stepping Stones and even has an outdoor heated swimming pool and paddling pools! With Alton Towers just a 20-minute drive away too, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best Peak District campsites for families.
It’s also perfect for cyclists who can rent bikes in nearby Tissington, and birdwatchers who can use the bird hide on site. While anglers can take advantage of the fishing lake. All in all this is a campsite which really does have something for everyone.
There are lots of amenities here, but please check what’s available beforehand.
Wild Camping in the Peak District: Embrace Your Wild Side!
As a rule, wild camping is not permitted in the Peak District. The land is privately owned, and technically you need permission from the landowner to pitch a tent for the night.
However, wild camping in the Peak District is tolerated if you follow good practice and the right approach, and people do wild camp quite regularly in the area.
Part of the joy of wild camping is finding your own secret or hidden spot, and the Peak District offers a lot of ground to do just that.
Tips For Wild Camping in the Peak District
In the UK, there is a general leave no trace policy, so follow these tips when looking for the right camping spot:
- Be respectful and quiet.
- No fires – open fires have wreaked havoc across this area in recent times. Use a Trangia stove for cooking.
- Look for a place away from paths and roads and avoid the bottom of a hill in case of flooding.
- Pitch your tent late and leave early in the morning.
- Don’t stay longer than one night.
- Take a camping shovel for the toilet (like this folding one).
- Don’t disrupt flora and fauna, and don’t wash in rivers and streams with non-eco-friendly soaps.
- Take away your litter.
The Best Wild Camping Spots in the Peak District
This diverse landscape is perfect for wild campers, and the Dark Peak is ultimately better for wild camping in the Peak District because it has less villages and people around.
Wherever you are in the Peak District, it’s always recommended to keep your eyes peeled while you’re walking around for potential camping spots.
A map will prove handy as you can study the contour lines of the area. The contour lines will allow you to find the flatter spots. Generally, the closer the contour lines are together, the steeper the slope, so look for places that are wider apart. We’d recommend a map such as this one for the White Peak, and this one for the Dark Peak.
Here are a few suggestions on places to find a wild camping spot:
- Reynards Cave in Dovedale (White Peak) – best for a bivvy bag rather than a tent.
- Burbage Valley in the woodland area.
- Kinder plateau – it’s pretty big, so less chance of bumping into anyone
- Derwent and Bleaklow are relatively flat areas
- Lawrence field quarry is a popular climber’s spot but can be lively
Walk, Hike and Cycle in the Peak District
The Peak District National Park is ripe for enjoying all kinds of outdoor activities against a backdrop of ancient stone villages, reservoirs, woodlands, and rugged moorlands.
Northern Peaks loop (inc Holme Moss) – 128 kilometers with 2,532 meters of elevation gain
This loop starts and ends in Bakewell and takes in the Ladybower Reservoir, Strines Moor, ascends Holme Moss and through Glossop before coming back to Bakewell.
Central Peaks loop (inc Winnats pass + Mam Nick) – 84 kilometers with 1,400 meters of elevation gain
Starting on the grounds of Chatsworth House, it proceeds uphill on Beeley Moor onto the village of Froggatt into Hope Valley. From here, climb Winnats Pass and descend Mam Nick before heading back to Chatsworth.
Southern Peaks loop (Matlock) – 62 kilometers with 1,648 meters of elevation gain
Starting and finishing at the Family Tree Café at Whatstandwell, this challenging route that takes in ten hills to really test your cycling legs!
Walking and Hiking Routes To Try
The Limestone Way
A 45-mile walk that takes in the rolling Derbyshire Dales, starting in Castleton and ending in Rocester. An easy trail along country tracks and through farmer’s fields with a few hills, but nothing too taxing.
The Peak District’s highest point, this route offers fantastic views at the top, but there are steep rocks for a bit of a challenge. Take in the Mermaid’s Pool and some interesting rock formations, including the Boxing Gloves and Pym’s Chair. Start in Edale, climb the picturesque Jacob’s Ladder path and go towards Kinder Downfall, the National Park’s tallest waterfall.
Mam’ Tor means Mother Hill, and this 517m high hill near Castleton is famous for the views over Winnats Pass. This ridge walk links Rushop Edge and the Great Ridge. It is home to many caverns, including Speedwell and Peak Cavern, aka ‘the devil’s arse’!
Other Things To Do in the Peak District
Camping in the Peak District is a perfect way to enjoy the moorlands’ natural beauty and watch the wildlife.
Still, there are some other notable sights to take in. Just outside Bakewell, visit the majestic Chatsworth House or visit the picturesque towns of Eyam, Buxton, and Castleton.
Near Peak Cavern, you will find Peveril Castle, which overlooks Hope Valley. Finally, indulge in an outdoor heated pool at Hathersage or enjoy a spa day at the Devonshire Spa in Buxton!
It is best to base yourself in either Bakewell or Buxton for easy access to the National Park, plus you can try the famous Bakewell tart!
In the north, the train lines stop at Derwent, Hope, and Edale Valleys if coming by train. In the south, the train goes from Derby to Matlock, and in the west, you can hop on the train to Glossop and Buxton.