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 hiking is the top things to do in the Peak District.
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 in layers with a waterproof and hiking boots, and start your walk early when they’re at their most energetic.
England is now back in lockdown. Please only visit if you are local. Please respect social distancing, take all litter home with you, don’t bring BBQs and park your car in designated parking areas.
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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.
This Padley Gorge walk is one of our favourite Peak District family walks, especially for young kids, as they can paddle in the stream, climb boulders and trees, and there’s even ice-cream at the end! It’s a 2.7km cicular walk that takes in the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate too (which is free to walk though). And even though it may seem a short distance, do allow a good three hours for this walk as there are so many places to play!
Don’t forget your cash for the ice-cream van. They don’t take cards
Our Alport to Youlgreave walk is an easy circular stroll along either side of the River Bradford. The views on the last section are particularly beautiful as you take a short climb up to a hill top. We recommend that kids wear wellies on this walk so they can paddle in the river, and if you’re doing this walk in the warmer summer months, bring the kids’ wetsuits and towels as there is a small designated swimming area.
Youlgreave is a very pretty village and worth a detour from the walk for lunch at one of the three pubs (you’re spoilt for choice, although do book a table at weekends and school holidays).
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, which can be quite slippy when wet. Take care.
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.
Baslow Edge is a great place to see Highland Coos and the views are fantastic; standing on Baslow Edge on a clear day you can see Chatsworth House to the left and then Kinder Plateau in the far distance to the right.
Our short Baslow Edge walk offers an easy loop from Curbar Gap car park, perfect for little legs. There are lots of fun boulders to climb over, under and through, and our boys always love seeing the Highland cattle here (you’re almost guaranteed to spot them!) And did we mention the views?
Monsal Head is one of the most iconic beauty spots of the Peak District. This is where the impressive Headstone Viaduct, which forms part of the Monsal Trail, straddles the verdant Monsal Dale and the River Wye meanders aimlessly through.
Our short Monsal Head circular walk takes you from the main view point by the Monsal Head Hotel, down into the dale to the weir, then across the other side of the River Wye to emerge under the viaduct, with a climb back up to the view point. As this walk loops to the weir along the River Wye, we sometimes call this the ‘Monsal Head waterfall walk’. Footwear with good grip is essential as this walk can get very muddy in wet weather, and arrive early to secure parking during weekends and school holidays as this is a Peak District hot spot.
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.
An easy going, circular walk through the woodland at Cressbrook Dale. This is tucked away from main tourist hot spots in the National Park and is a particularly lovely Peak District family walk in the rain as it’s somewhat sheltered.
It isn’t altogether flat with a slight decline and incline to and from the brook, but it’s very doable for little legs. Just take care on those downward sections as they can get muddy and slippy in the rain.
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.
Commonly referred to as Beeley Woods, Beeley and Hill Bank Plantation is a lovely place for a Peak District family walk. Forming part of the Chatsworth Estate, footpaths criss-cross through the woodland and a brook rushes down little waterfalls. We particularly enjoy it on a rainy day as the trees provide some shelter, and the sound of the rain on the tree tops is beautiful.
This is a short 2.7km walk around the Beeley and Hill Bank Plantation, but allow for a good few hours as the kids will love paddling in the stream and playing in the woods. Wellies during the winter months are a good idea, rather than hiking boots, so they can paddle.
Starting from the Hartington Farm Shop and Café (one of the best cafes for a hot chocolate in the Peak District) this short and picturesque Hartington walk leads you down to Beresford Dale where the River Dove meanders through. Make sure you pack a torch, as half way along this walk there is a cave to explore, which includes a short walk through tunnel! You may even find some ‘Ice Age cave paintings’ (which is what our 6 year old called them). Although do note that the tunnel through is very narrow and really only for small children.
As the Matterhorn of Cheshire, Shutlingsloe (506 metres) is a great starter hill for little legs. This linear Shutlingsloe walk, with a steady ascent of 245 metres, is a rewarding Peak District family walk that takes in forests, hills and 360 degree views.
Start your walk at Trentabeck car park and walk through forest, marvelling the height of the trees. Once you hit a junction at the top of the trees, follow the signs up to the Shutlingsloe Trig Point. At 506m, it may not be the highest hill, but the views across Cheshire are 360 degrees (in good weather!)
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!
As you descend into the rocky depths of Lud’s Church, it feels like you’ve entered another world, away from the typical green rolling dales and farming land of the Peak District. Parents – this Lud’s Church walk is your opportunity to release your inner Indiana Jones… in Staffordshire. Created by a giant land-slip, this deep, moss-covered chasm is full of history and myths and makes for a fantastic family walk.
Lud’s Church is 18 metres deep and 100 metres long. Somehow trees have found a home on the dark, narrow cliff face and reach up for the light. And even though there is no steeple in site, it was used as a secret place for worship for people who would have otherwise been prosecuted in the fifteenth century. It’s also believed that Robin Hood and Friar Tuck once used it as a hiding place from the authorities.
Most visitors park at Gradbach car park and follow the 2.2km route to Lud’s Church and back (4.4km total). However, this route gets very busy on weekends and holidays, and the car park is often full by 9:30am (it’s also a good starting point for the Three Shires Head walk). Plus this route is mainly through woodland, and we always prefer a bit of variety on our walks with little ones.
Peak District Kid’s circular Lud’s Church walk begins at this road side parking near to the Roaches and quickly descends into forest to reach Lud’s Church. It then leads you back up on a gradual ascent with fantastic views over the Staffordshire countryside.
19. Ashford-in-the-Water walk to Monsal Head – 6.2km
Ashford-in-the-Water is a picture-postcard village in the heart of the Peak District and this circular walk leads you up to Monsal Head and back. This is a longer walk that the Monsal Head walk detailed above.
Combine this walk with a pub lunch half way round at The Stables Bar at Monsal Head, or at the Bulls Head in Ashford-in-the-Water afterwards. Kids will love walking through the 400 metre long Headstone Tunnel, and the views from Monsal Head are fantastic. There’s also a playground at the end of the walk, if your little ones still have energy to burn.
The village of Tissington, where this beautiful Peak District family walk begins and ends, is one of the prettiest in the National Park. Centred around the grand Tissington Hall are a collection of limestone cottages, no less than six ancient wells, a Church that dates back to Saxon times, a tea shop selling vegan treats, and a duck pond. This is also where the Tissington Trail passes through; a popular Peak District cycle route for families.
This circular Tissington walk to Parwich follows along the Tissington Trail for a short while, but then leads out to open farmland as you head to Parwich, another pretty Peak District village. The views along the way are beautiful. It’s worth timing your walk to arrive in Parwich in time for lunch at the Sycamore Inn, before continuing your walk back to Tissington. There’s also a good playground in Parwich.
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 is one of our more challenging Peak District family walks as it is steep, muddy and rocky in places. But the views from Pike Low down on to the reservoirs on this Derwent Dam walk are simply stunning and make it all the worthwhile.
Starting from Fairholmes car park, this walk takes you right up to Derwent Dam, then along the shores of Derwent Reservoir, climbs steeply up to Pike Low and across the open moors of the Dark Peak, to then descend back down to Ladybower Reservoir with an easy walk back to the start.
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.
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 the go-to website for parents both visiting and living in the Peak District run by Bakewell-based Mum, Jenny. Find out about the best walks, bike rides, attractions and events for families in the UK's oldest National Park.