Camping in the Peak District: Wild camping, best campsites and more!

There is something deeply romantic about roaming and camping in the Peak District and it’s wild moorlands. Exploring England’s oldest national park’s hills and valleys is a popular pastime for many ramblers and outdoor enthusiasts. Still, solitude can be easily found in the countryside.

Below we not only show you some of the best campsites in the Peak District, we also share information on wild camping, along with our favourite wild camping spots.

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

The Peak District is split into two sections – the White Peak and the Dark Peak.

Although it sounds ominous, the Dark Peak is best characterized 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 camping spots 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.

Some of the best campsites in the Peak District

Upper Hurst Farm, Hartington

The farm is an 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 glamping yurts are surrounded by hedgerows and trees with scenic views of the rolling Peak District hills. The campsite is also close to the Beresford Dale, and amenities include underfloor heating in the yurts and a toilet/shower block accessible to everyone.

North Lees Campsite, Stanage Edge

Just over a mile from Hathersage is the North Lees campsite, which is ideal for those looking for a quiet camp. North Lees is probably better suited for those traveling with small tents, and 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 nearby. It’s also perfect for cyclists and hikers.

Hayfield Camping Club Site

In the Dark Peak area is Hayfield, 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. On-site facilities at this campsite include a washroom, children’s play area, and a small shop. 

Callow Top Holiday Park, Ashbourne

Callow Top is an award-winning site suitable for campers, caravanners, or a self-catering holiday. It’s ideally located near the Dovedale Stepping Stones and even has an outdoor heated swimming pool and paddling pools.

Perfect for cyclists who can rent bikes in nearby Tissington, birdwatchers can use the bird hide, and anglers take advantage of the fishing lake. There are lots of amenities here, but please check what’s available beforehand. 

Wild camping in the Peak District

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. 

Cycle Routes

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 out

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.

Kinder Scout

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

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!

Getting there

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.

Recommended for your trip to the Peak District

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