Maybe it is the beautiful wooded limestone dales with rivers of the clearest water running through them, or the bleak and barren moorlands in the north of the area, beautiful still, but in a different sort of wild way, or could it be the friendly and welcoming people, the stately homes in and around the area, wooded valleys, beautiful countryside attracting walkers and cyclists, gritstone edges popular with climbers and hang gliders. Whatever the particular attraction is, millions of visitors flood to the Peak District every year.
Lying at the Southern end of the Pennines mountain range and covering an area of 555 square miles (1,440 km2), mostly in Derbyshire, but also covering areas of West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Staffordshire, the Peak District was the first area of Britain to be named a National Park in 1951.
The Peak District can effectively be split into two distinctly different areas; the Dark Peak and the White Peak. The Dark Peak domintes the northern part of the district with gritstone outcrops and edges, often bordering high altitude bleak peat moorlands; mostly used for rearing hardy sheep, and inhabited by a number of game birds such as grouse. The White Peak is predominately in the southern part of the district whose name derives from the light colour of the limestone hills and dales, and criss-crossed by a maze of limestone dry stone walling; this is pasture land and is favoured by cattle rearers.
Millions of visitors come to the area every year to make use of the many outdoor activities available in the Peak District or to visit the numerous tourist attractions such as Chatsworth House, the caverns at Castleton (unique to Blue John – a type of fluorite/fluorspar – mining in the UK), charming Olde England towns and villages, or to see the many traditional festivals associated with the area; well-dressing (originally a Derbyshire tradition), Shrovetide football (at Ashbourne), or the scarecrow festivals at Wirksworth and Tansley (an idea being picked up by other towns and villages in or near to the area, Pleasley being a prime example).
Accessibility to the area is excellent with about 20 million people living within a hour’s drive, an excellent public transport system serves the area. With massive towns and cities around the border, namely; Sheffield, Manchester, Derby, Huddersfield, and Stoke-on-Trent whose residents enjoy all that the peak District has to offer from just a stone’s throw away. It is no surprise that tourism is perhaps the biggest revenue providing about 25% of the total income of residents living in the area – Dove Dale in the south of the district alone welcomes on average 2 million visitors each year. Natural mineral water outlets at Buxton and Ashbourne are exploited to supply retailers throughout the UK, and the mineral mining and manufacturing industries also provide much of the revenue.
I was fortunate to be born in Derbyshire, have lived close to or in the area all my life and have spent many great times enjoying the delights of the Peak District so I know first hand what is there. I urge anyone who has never visited the Peak District to do so and see what is on offer, they will certainly not be disappointed. If however you have already discovered the Peak District then you must return to discover more about this delightful area of the UK.
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