Peak District - Introduction
From south to north the Pennine chain starts in the area known as the Peak District, or simply The Peak. 555 square miles of the Peak District falls within the Peak District National Park which became, in 1951, Britain's first designated National Park. It is also the most popular National Park in the country and is even said to be the second most visited national park in the world after the Mount Fiji National Park in Japan.
Peak District Gallery: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
While much of the Peak District falls within Derbyshire there are substantial areas that belong to Staffordshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, South and West Yorkshire. Indeed it is this close proximity to the major conurbations of Manchester and Sheffield that help explain the popularity of the area.
The Peak is traditionally divided into two different areas, the Dark Peak where the underlying rock is mainly millstone grit (gritstone) and the White Peak where limestone is predominant. The Dark Peak encloses the White Peak to the north, east and west like a horseshoe and is typified by high peat moorlands lined with gritstone outcrops. The White Peak is characterised by deep valleys cutting into the limestone plateau.
It has often been remarked that the name 'Peak' is something of a misnomer as there are very fews peaks in the area (at least compared to somewhere like the Lake District). It is believed the name is actually derived from the Anglo-Saxon word Pecsaetan which means 'hill-dweller' and probably referred to the tribes that lived in the area in pre-Norman times.
Every year I plan to try and visit the Peak District more than I have done and explore some of the spectacular gritstone landscape. Unfortunately, for various reasons, partly because I don't enjoy the drive which invariably consists mainly of driving along motorways and through large urban areas. In 2013 I did at least finally manage to visit the south-western area for the first time. So far I've still not been to the White Peak area at all.
What I can say is that I have thoroughly enjoyed every walk I have done in the Peak. I find the gritstone edges particularly rewarding walking country, especially Stanage Edge and the southern Kinder and Saddleworth Edges. One drawback of the area is that it is so popular and some places, such as Mam Tor, can seem overcrowded to say the least.