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Peak District Drives: Guide To Scenic Roads & Attractions

Peak District Drives

The Peak District, located in central England at the southern end of the Pennines, is one of England’s most scenic locations. This national park, which spans 555 sq miles, is home to idyllic villages and winding country roads, making it an ideal location for a road trip. Being one of the most iconic places in the UK, it’s easy to see why many adventurers have Peak District drives high up on their bucket list. If you’re one of the people looking to visit this location, keep reading as we explore its best roads and attractions.

5 Most Scenic Peak District Drives

Countryside Landscape in Peak District

The Peak District National Park has many exciting driving routes that are worth exploring, but we’ve made a list of the best among the bunch.

1. Snake Pass

If you’re here strictly for a drive, Snake Pass is where you want to be. This road, which crosses the Pennines, serves as an alternative to other motorways that connect Sheffield to Manchester. As its name suggests, expect tricky bends and steep hills, but the road rewards drivers with breathtaking views of the countryside. Snake Pass gets its name from the emblem of the Snake Inn, a local pub in the high hills.

Snake Pass passes the A57 road and runs from Glossop to the Ladybower reservoir at Ashopton. The length of this pass stretches over 20 miles (32 km), so you’ll need about 25 minutes to complete the scenic drive if you don’t make a stop. The hill pass itself is also 510m (1804 ft) above sea level so expect a steep climb as you drive towards its highest point.

See how the Snake Pass compares to England’s highest roads.

2. Cat & Fiddle

The Cat & Fiddle is another great road to explore in the Peak District. The scenic route runs through the peaks between Buxton and Macclesfield. The road is actually the A537 and it gets its unique name from a pub a short distance away. The pub, however, closed a few years ago and is now a distillery that you can visit for tours and tastings.

Cat & Fiddle stretches over 12 miles (19 km), so it takes around 20 minutes to complete the ride. It can also be a dangerous road to drive. That’s why it’s dotted with average-speed cameras to monitor speed limits and help prevent accidents. Thankfully, you don’t have to rush. Take it steady and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

3. Winnats Pass

The ride through the limestone gorge of Winnats Pass is another scenic drive to experience during your road trip to the Peak District. Located a short distance from the village of Castleton, Winnats Pass is a narrow, hilly climb.

The valley is regarded as a site of special scientific interest as it was once under a tropical sea. The limestone present there today is full of the fossils of sea creatures that lived there more than 350 million years ago.

The best way to enjoy a drive through Winnats Pass is to go from Sparrowpit to Castleton. This allows you to take in views of the rock faces as you continue down to A6013 in Hope Valley.

4. Monsal Head to Longstone Edge

This route doesn’t have a real name, but it makes for a really scenic drive, just like the others. You’ll start at Monsal Head car park and take the narrow, winding road that leads to the Monsal Dale. The drive takes you across lush greenery before you eventually end up at a pit stop with a few eateries. The panorama also takes in the Headstone Viaduct and Hob’s House Cave.

If you have time, walk through the dale along the Monsal Trail, which crosses the old Midland Railway line. Next, carry on straight down the road and enjoy the lovely views of open fields on your way down to Longstone Lane. Longstone Lane is a long, gently sloping road that leads through the local town.

5. Derwent Dams

Derwent Reservoir

The scenic drive across Derwent Dams is one for those who want to enjoy a view of the River Derwent. This road ​​slopes around the Ladybower Reservoir and Howden Reservoir for almost 8 miles (13 km). This route is not all water, as it features a good mix of woodlands, so there’s plenty for you to look at.

If you want to take this drive through the Peak District, your best bet is to visit during the week. The road beyond Fairholmes is closed to motor vehicles on Sundays throughout the year, as well as on Saturdays and bank holidays from Easter until the end of October.

The Jurassic Coast promises an exciting road trip similar to the Peak District. See here to learn all about its attractions.

Attractions In Peak District

In addition to the thrill of driving around the exciting roads in the Peak District, there are a bunch of attractions to explore.

Haddon Hall

Set in River Wye, Haddon Hall has featured in many films and period dramas over the years, including classics like Pride and Prejudice and Moll Flanders. The aesthetics of the building take you back a couple of hundred years, with beautiful trees and climbing roses along the hallway. Highlights of this attraction include the mediaeval kitchen and the Elizabethan long gallery.

Castleton Caves and Peveril Castle

If you’re feeling adventurous, head down to the beautiful village of Castleton and explore its cave systems. This is a great activity for kids. You’ll also find the ruins of Peveril Castle nearby, which offer panoramic views over Hope Valley.

Chatsworth House

Waterfall At Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House is one of the most beautiful stately homes in the UK, serving as home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The castle has over 30 rooms to explore, including the regal state rooms and exquisite Painted Hall.


Lying on the banks of the winding river wye, Bakewell is the Peak District’s largest town. It features many tea rooms, independent shops, stone buildings and the famous Bakewell tart, making it a major attraction for sightseers.

Peak District Driving Tips

The Peak District has many winding roads with bends, blind summits and steep slopes, so you need to be very careful when visiting this area. Here are a few tips to help prepare for this England road trip:

  • Carry out vehicle checks. Look out for things like oil level, tyre pressure and headlights.
  • Bring along a breakdown kit as an extra precaution for your car.
  • Take some time to plan your road trip route.
  • Bring warm clothing, as the weather can be unpredictable.
  • Ensure your phone is charged so you can communicate should you need help.
  • Take plenty of water and snacks along.

SDVH offers 7-seater car hire services, allowing you to hire these spacious vehicles for group travel to the Peak District. SUV hire deals are also available for those seeking a vehicle to navigate the hilly terrain.

Frequently Asked Questions

The highest road in the Peak District is Snake Pass. This road reaches a height of 510 m (1804 ft) above sea level, making it a steep drive for anyone visiting the national park. Snake Pass is also known for its tricky bends and narrow views, especially when making turns, but the road rewards drivers with breathtaking scenery.

The most scenic road in the Peak District is Snake Pass. This driving route connects Glossop to Bamford while offering lovely views of the moors and reservoirs in the area. Its spectacular elevation also makes it easy to see the vast open expanses of greenery in the area but be careful as it can be steep.

The Peak District is 149 miles (240 km) away from London, which is quite the distance. Driving from England’s capital city, it will take you between three and four hours to get to the Peak District. The journey also takes a similar amount of time by train but you’ll have to spend at least six hours on the road if you go by bus. Luckily, many other attractions are closer to London if you can’t make the journey.

Yes, you can find a free car park in the Peak District. The Peak District has many free car parks in different areas, but you must check beforehand as some may have time restrictions or limited space. Some of the parks also tend to get crowded during peak times of tourist visits.

The best time to visit the Peak District is in the spring or summer. During this period, the weather is generally mild and colourful, so you can enjoy a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling and picnicking. Autumn is also great for scenic drives and walks in the grass but activities are limited in the winter months.


There you have it; the best Peak District drives. From Snake Pass and Winnats Pass to Cat & Fiddle, the Peak District has many interesting roads that make for a great road trip. Now all that’s left to do is hire a vehicle and experience the beauty that this national park has to offer.

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