Short and easy Peak District family walks (1km to 8km)
Are you looking for short or easy Peak District walks with kids, or some lovely family walks in the Peak District?
Sandwiched between Manchester and Sheffield in the north of England, the Peaks is our home and we are regularly out on a family hike with our boys of a weekend. With those green rolling hills dotted with old farm houses and country pubs, it’s our happy place, and it’s one of the top things to do in the Peak District.
There’s nothing better than a long walk across the dales, over drystone walls, towards a good old English pub for lunch. Pre-kids we used to grab an Ordnance Survey map and hike for a good few hours before drying off and warming up in front of a cosy log fire with a pint. When the boys came along it was fine doing these walks with them in the back carrier, but since the age of two we have wanted to encourage them to do a walk all on their own. Plus, we found our boys to be a bit too heavy for the carriers!
So here is a selection of our favourite short family walks in the Peak District. Make sure you pack LOTS of snacks and an OS Map, dress them in layers with a waterproof and hiking boots, and start your walk early when they’re at their most energetic.
If you are planning a visit to the National Park, please arrive early or late in the day to avoid crowds, and respect social distancing. Please park in car parks and designated laybys only, and take all rubbish home with you.
A big thank you to Ordnance Survey for supplying the mapping for this post as part of the #GetOutside program. This post contains affiliate links. Should you click to purchase, it is at no extra cost to you, but I receive a small commission.
1. Stanton Moor (aka ‘The Cork Walk’ or ‘Nine Ladies Circle’) – 3.1 km
This circular Stanton Moor walk has it all – unusual stones to explore, rocks to climb, woodland, open views and muddy puddles! It’s easily one of our favourite peak district family walks. At the start of the walk is a large rock that looks like a corkscrew – it’s begging to be climbed by the grownups if you’re up for the challenge. The walk continues round to the left, however, we often like to take a detour down the old quarry to play amongst all the boulders. A snack at the Nine Ladies Circle is standard; a Bronze Age circle used by the Druids. Enjoy the views over to Darley Dale as you loop back round to the beginning.
Park down Bradford Road just a bit further on from Youlgreave Church. This circular walk takes you either side of the River Bradford. The kids will love playing with sticks and paddling in the shallow section at the end of Holywell Lane. There’s even a designated swimming area further down the river for the warmer summer months. Check out our review of Youlgreave swimming.
Post-walk enjoy a good lunch in the family-friendly George Hotel (then have a kids’ menu). If the kids still have energy to burn, there’s a good playground just past the church along Alport Lane.
This is a great little walk for views and rocks to climb!
Park in the pay and display car park next to the Robin Hood Pub (not in their actual car park), and walk up the road just for 20 metres, where you will see a footpath sign and gate that leads you to Birchen Edge.
We take the lower footpath first and after about 1km, before you see Nelson’s Monument on the hill top, you can climb up the rocks to the top. Or, there is a path if you don’t fancy the climb; just follow straight ahead. Once at the top, the views are fantastic and kids will love climbing up and over the big boulders.
Follow the footpath along the top of Birchen Edge to get back to the car park. There’s a steep descent right at the end.
A visit to Blaze Farm is one of our top things to do in the Peak District with kids. Entry is FREE and there are lots of farm animals to meet (cows, peacocks, donkeys, geese, ducks, sheep). If you’re visiting during the lambing season you may even be lucky enough to see a lamb being born in the lambing shed (arrive early). There is a short and long nature walk. We take the short walk that crosses the meadows, through the woodland (where you’ll come across carved animals in the wood and a den) and back up to the farm. Just follow the signs.
On return to the farm, head to the cosy tea room and treat yourselves to some ice-cream made on the farm from A2 milk. Behind the tearoom you’ll find a slide and a tractor to play on. This is one of our top places to eat with kids in the Peak District.
Blaze Farm is open 10am to 5:30pm Tuesday-Sunday all year round and Bank Holiday Mondays. Click here to see photos and our full review of Blaze Farm.
This is a classic Peak District walk which can get rather busy at weekends and public holidays. Ensure you arrive early beat the crowds, unless you’re visiting during the week when it’s likely you’ll have the valley to yourselves. A flat gravel path follows alongside the river and is suitable for prams, until you reach a series of stepping stones that take you to the other side. Walk along as far as you wish, but just remember you have to turn around and follow the same route back. We generally go just a little bit further than the stepping stones (about 1km each way).
This is also the starting point for Thorpe Cloud. It’s short steep climb to the top, just follow the signs the other side of the stepping stones. The climb is worth the effort as the views are stunning.
This circular walk can get very muddy when it’s been raining. Park up by Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and walk down through Gould Farm to say ‘hello’ to the cows (you’ll smell them before you see them!) Head down to the river and enjoy those open views across the dales as you walk between drystone stiles. Then treat yourself to a hearty lunch at the pub on your return.
Mam Tor, meaning ‘Mother Hill’, is a 517 metre high hill overlooking Castleton and is one of the most popular family walks in the Peak District. The views from the top are spectacular, although arrive early during school holidays and weekends to avoid the crowds.
You don’t actually have to endure a long hike to get there. If you park at this car park it is just a short (but steep) 500 metre walk uphill. Once you’re at the top, there’s a stunning walk along the top to Lose Hill.
Click here for start point Distance: 1.2km from the car park to the summit and back again.
This is a linear walk suitable for prams and wheelchairs, with a lovely spot for a paddle or wild swim at the end.
To get there, you need to follow the road on the eastern shores of Ladybower and Howden Resevoirs. This road is open Monday to Friday, but closed Saturday, Sunday and bank hols (and sometimes in bad weather I’m told). If the road is closed you have to park at the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre. It’s then a 10km walk (or bike ride). Alternatively, park here close by to Langsett Reservoir and take the 6km hike south. These options don’t really make for a short Peak District walk, so make sure you visit during the week.
Once you reach the end of the road, you need to park your car on the side. This can get busy on a hot, sunny day, so we advise arriving early. It’s then a 1.4 km walk to the bridge at Slippery Stones. This is a gravel path and does get a little rocky in places. There’s a shot uphill section, but it’s a very easy walk.
Once you get to the bridge, there are footpaths to carry on. But we find that our boys spend ages just playing in the water here. On the other side, underneath the bridge, is a natural platform which is perfect for a paddle.
On the way back, it’s worth pulling in and stopping at the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre to do the short walk up to the front of the Derwent Dam. A nice little homeschooling lesson! There’s also a short nature trail here with carved woodland creatures. This too is pram friendly, and there are also toilets and a cafe.
Distance: 2.8km from the car park to the summit and back again.
Perched high over the Victorian town of Buxton stands Solomon’s Tower proudly on the summit of Grin Low. This is a viewpoint tower built in 1896 on the site of a tumulus, which is a Neolithic burial mound. The views from the top are very impressive, and on a very clear day you can even see across to Mam Tor.
It’s an easy walk through woodland from the Poole’s Cavern car park to the summit. The footpath is waymarked and we follow the yellow route up and the green one back. There is a slight incline to the top, but kids will be distracted by woodland carvings, information boards, and even a Gruffalo characters to spot (download this Amazon app before your walk).
This is a very short walk that leads you to the huge rock formation that is Robin Hood’s Stride. This is a fantastic place for kids climb and explore. Parents take a picnic blanket to sit on whilst your kids have fun.
As you walk across the fields to get to Robin Hood’s Stride, you will notice a Druid stone circle. It’s also worth taking the detour to Hermit’s Cave.
There is road side parking here. If you want to make it a longer walk, you could walk from Youlgreave.
A much quieter alternative to Dovedale Stepping Stones, is Hathersage Stepping Stones.
This almost-5km circular Peak District family walk from Hathersage is easy and relatively flat. It mostly follows the footpaths along the River Derwent, through shady trees backed by open fields. The stepping stone themselves are a little trickier than the Dovedale ones, so take care if you’re unsteady on your feet; kids under 5 will need a helping hand as their legs aren’t quite long enough to reach across to each stone.
It’s a very pretty walk, and the reward at the end is a hot chocolate in one of Hathersage’s cafes!
Lathkill Dale is one of the prettiest dales in the Peak District National Park. This circular walk takes you to the the cave where the River Lathkill emerges (feel the cold air seeping from underground) and along the river to a waterfall. It then leads back along the top of the dales across a series of open pastures connected by stone stiles.
This Lathkill Dale walk is a moderately difficult Peak District family walk aimed at kids aged 6+. If you want a shorter version, you could just walk down to the cave (the start of the River Lathkill) and back, which is 3km return.
Three Shires Head is where the counties of Derbyshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire meet at a waterfall and collection of pools on the River Dane. It’s a stunning spot and one of our favourite Peak District wild swimming locations.
Even on a cloudy day it’s perfect for a picnic and paddle; our boys spend ages walking over the boulders and dipping their toes into the icy cold waters. The waterfalls mark exactly half way around this Three Shires walk, so it makes for a perfect lunch stop.
This Eyam Moor walk boasts stunning moorland views, and then descends into woodland along Highlow Brook and climbs up again through open pastures. It’s a lovely walk for families with kids age 5+ (not suitable for prams).
It can get rather gusty on the moorland, yet it is sheltered in the valley, so wear layers, and can be muddy underfoot, so ensure everyone is wearing hiking boots with good grip and put kids in waterproof trousers.
This 8 km circular walk takes you from Sheldon to Monyash, and back again. These footpaths are off the Peak District tourist trail and we rarely see other hikers on this walk, until we enter Monyash.
Whilst it may lack those epic escarpment views of Bamford Edge or Curbar Egde, or the pretty river views of Padley Gorge and Lathkill, this walk offers gentle rolling meadows, fossils and the best preserved 19th century lead mine in the whole of Britain! And at the half way point there’s the Bull Head in Monyash which has a great kids menu and a playground at the back.
Buggy and pram friendly walks in the Peak District
If you’ve got very little ones, you may be looking for a walk where they can nap in the buggy or pram whilst you and your partner have a chat. You therefore need to find somewhere relatively flat, and with no stiles to hoist the buggy over.
1. Monsal Trail and Tissington Trails
For the best pram friendly walks Derbyshire head to the disused railway tracks intersecting the Peak District that have been converted into long gravel pathways. Our favourites are the Monsal Trail and Tissington Trail, but they are all detailed in this post (which is geared more to traffic free cycle paths, but your needs are the same).
2. Chatsworth Estate Buggy Walk
However, my absolute favourite buggy friendly walk in the Peak District has to be the walk from Baslow to Edensor through the Chatsworth Estate. Start at this pay and display car park in Baslow, and take the footpath on the right right over the bridge on Church Lane. Follow the pathway towards Chatsworth House and turn right over Paine’s Bridge. Follow on up the hill to Edensor. It’s just a 1 km walk to Edensor, and worth popping in to the tea rooms.
Click here for start point Distance: 5.6km from the car park to Edensor and back again.
As well as the Slippery Stones walk detailed above (number 9), which is pram-friendly. There is also a lovely pram-friendly woodland walk with caved woodland animals next to the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre, right next to Derwent Dam. However, this is a very short 400 metre walk max, but the walk up to the dam wall when it’s in full flow is very impressive.
4. Cromford Canal
Just outside the National Park boundary, near Matlock is the beautiful Cromford Canal. We’ve also been canoeing along here.
Park at the pay and display (coins) Cromford Wharf car park. Here there is a little cafe, outdoor seating, toilets and sometimes an ice-cream van. A flat footpath then runs from here, along the canal to a little footbridge, for 1.7km. From here, you can continue along the High Peak Trail for a much longer walk if you fancy it.
If you’re looking for an epic, iconic walk, how about taking on Kinder Scout with kids? This is where 500 walkers trespassed en masse and walked from Hayfield to Kinder Scout to secure access right to open country for all to enjoy forever in 1932. It’s a 14km circular route from Hayfield (you can also go from Edale). It took us 8 hours with our boys who were 5 and 6 at the time. Routing, map, parking and lots of photos for hiking Kinder Scout with kids from Hayfield can be found here.
Do you have any favourite family walks in the Peak District to add?
Hello! 'Peak District Kids' is a central resource for parents both visiting and living in the Peak District run by local Mum, Jenny. Find out the top things to do, where to go, and up coming events for families in the area.