Peak District Walks: Top Child-Friendly Walks in the High Peak

The summer holidays are on the horizon, and there is no better time to get the kids out into the fresh air and beautiful surroundings of the Peak District. Both Kirsty and I cherished our family strolls during our own childhood, and it is an experience we’re eager to share with Eva and Georgia. Peak District walks are a healthy way to spend quality bonding time with your family, and it is also one of the best value days out you can have!

Top Tips for Making the Best of the Day

  • Encourage the kids to help plan the walk – Get them looking at the route and talk to them about what they think they need to bring. It will get them invested and excited in the day.
  • Don’t forget the snacks – Nothing will spoil a walk quicker than a “hangry” child, and a well-timed snack can work wonders.
  • Stay hydrated – Take plenty of water and be ready for a tree-wee if needed!
  • Slap on the sun cream – I have been caught out on overcast days where I have still burnt through the clouds more than once. If in doubt, slap a layer on you and the kids.
  • Don’t overdo the route – I am always in danger of making the mistake of dragging the kids too far or up too steep a hill! Better to do something a bit softer that everyone will enjoy. While I am on the topic….
  • Go at your children’s pace – They are not going to enjoy being dragged along at an uncomfortable speed.
  • It is great with friends – Sharing the walk with friends and their families makes it all the more fun.
  • Finally, If you are relying on your phone, take a portable charger – The received wisdom is you should never rely on your phone for navigation, but, let’s be honest, we all do! If you are, or you don’t know the route, make sure you take backup power with you. We use this one which can charge a couple of phones with no problem.
Peak District Walks: Top Child-Friendly Walks

Our Top Peak District Walks

The walks are ordered not in preference (we love them all!) but from easiest to hardest so you can pick which you feel is right for you and your little ones.

The Sett Valley Trail

The best walk for little legs on the list, also perfect for those who are just getting to grips with their first bike as well. The Sett Valley Trail runs from Hayfield to New Mills with a large carpark at the Hayfield end. As a converted railway line, it is straight and flat and at the New Mills end you will find some often overlooked local industrial heritage and the incredible Millenium Walkway as well.

High Peak Family Walks - The Millenium Walk Way
image credit: man_of_oak

Best of all on this family walk is the legendary (in our family!) Sett Valley Cafe. It is perfect for ice creams in the summer and hot chocolates in the winter and if you are feeling especially indulgent their cakes and sausage rolls are amazing!

The full walk from Hayfield to New Mills and back again is just under 6 miles (or 3 if you just go to the cafe and back) and is a wonderful distraction for an afternoon.

If you are planning to explore the Peak District and are looking for somewhere to stay, then check our accommodation guides:

Peak District Cottages: The Best Family-Friendly Accommodation in the High Peak


The Best Peak District Hotels with Children.

If you are planning to explore the Peak District and are looking for somewhere to stay, then check our accommodation guides: Peak District Cottages: The Best Family-Friendly Accommodation in the High Peak and The Best Peak District Hotels with Children.

Monsal Trail

Like the Sett Valley trail, the Monsal Trail is a converted railway line that runs through some of the most beautiful parts of the Peak District and is perfect for a day out with the children. Easy to access with pram, bike or on little legs there are many beautiful diversions that the trail can take you to and there are several stops along the way for cake and ice cream!

Peak District Walks: Monsal Trail at Sunset
image credit:

We tend to park near Monsal Head Hotel and Bar when we go, from which it is a short walk down to the trail itself. This has the advantage of being free parking, but it is not the most accessible for those with bikes or prams. A lot of people will start the trail in Bakewell Station NCP, which has direct access to the trail.

Highlights of the walk include the old railway tunnels (just do not touch the walls!), Monsal Head Bridge (about an hour’s walk from Bakewell) and our family’s favourite; Chee Dale Stepping Stones. You can access the stepping stones from the trail not far after the Chee Tor Tunnel, and there are some brilliant short but enjoyable family walks that also take in these stones.

Padley Gorge

Padley Gorge really is the Peak District walk that has it all! Located on the Sheffield side of the Peaks, it is home to stunning scenery, including waterfalls, forests, and meadows. The paths themselves are not the most accessible, and I would not recommend taking prams or bikes, but for little legs looking for an adventure, it is ideal!

Peak District Walks: TEva and Georgia on a wooden bridge near Padley Gorge.

We tend to make the most of the free parking near the Ice Cream Van (obviously!) but this fills up very quickly. Other paid parking options include Surprise View Car Park or Grindleford Station. Our favourite family walk here is around 2 miles but always takes us a few hours to complete as there is so much to do on the route! It is a proper woodland trail with tight stiles and rough terrain so make sure you are all wearing some sturdy boots.

It is a true “any time of year” route with much to see and do, the only problem with it is there are no easily accessible cafes or toilets nearby so be ready with the snacks and for a tree wee if needed.

Derwent Reservoir Loop

Getting a little more adventurous, Derwent Reservoir is set in the heart of the peaks amidst beautiful countryside. About halfway between Manchester and Sheffield, it is easy to get to from either side. There is a visitors centre on-site with toilets which also sells snacks and ice creams should the day call for it.

There are many routes you can take from the visitor’s centre of varying degrees of difficulty however, no matter where you plan to go, a walk under the dam near the visitors centre is a must to marvel at this bit of engineering. If you are lucky, you might even catch it overflowing, which is truly a sight to behold!

Family Walks in the Peak District - Derwent Damn Overflowing
Image Credit: Bald Hiker

Our favourite family route is a loop around the reservoir, and apart from a short steep climb from the car-park it is mostly flat. There are several beautiful picnic spots along the way and it is just perfect for a family walk or bike ride. The full loop might be a bit much for smaller legs but if you fancy something shorter, a stroll for a couple of miles along the western side of the reservoir before doubling back is well worth it.

If you can, try and visit when the level of the reservoir is very low, and you might just get to see the ruins of Derwent village. The village was originally home to 250 people before it was swallowed up by the reservoir in 1944.

Lathkil Dale Loop

We love this walk; not only is it in a beautiful part of the Peaks, but it has so much to explore!

Lathkill Dale feels like a lost world. The narrow gorge has led to trees growing thin and fast as they race to capture the light, and the river which flows down the centre seems to disappear and reappear at will. The path meanders through woodland and marsh, and along its side, you will find caves, abandoned mines, dramatic cliffs, waterfalls and arched wooden footbridges.

Georgia and Eva and an amazing time exploring as we walked up, with a special highlight being Bateman’s House. This tumbledown ruin is the remains of a house built (for some strange reason) directly over a deep mine shaft during the 1840s by an agent of the mine. Not only can you walk around the remains of the house, but a sturdy ladder has been built so you can head a little way into the mine itself. Once there, you can turn a crank which generates enough power to illuminate the mine shaft!

The Dale is also a refuge for wildlife, with endangered Dippers and Water Voles nesting in and around the river. We also spotted the tamest Woodmouse we have ever seen tucking into a bit of lunch someone had left behind!

There are signs up asking dog owners not to let their animals disturb the wildlife, so be sure to keep your dog on a lead if you bring one.

We tend to start from Over Haddon Car Park (four hours, £5.20), where there is a toilet available. From here, it is a short walk down to the start of the trail. The only steep climb where you head up to Haddon Farm campsite. From there, the last mile or so back to Haddon is by a quiet country road.

Finally, if you are looking for coffee and cake at the end, then The Lathkill Hotel is a great option and has wonderful views over the valley.

One other option to consider is not to turn off towards the campsite but carry on all the way to Monyash. This would be over seven miles there and back, so quite a walk, but if you think your little ones are up to it, it is worth considering!

Mam Torr

We are getting properly adventurous now! The walk along the ridge from Mam Torr to Lose Hill is one of our absolute favourites. You have incredible views of Hope Valley, Edale and Mam Torr and a wonderful, open rolling pathway ahead of you.

Mam Torr is located on the Manchester side of the Peak District and is close to New Mills and Chapel en le Frith. We tend to park near the base of the hill or down closer to the village of Castleton itself, depending how long a walk we would like to do. The initial climb up Mam Torr is quite steep and sure to get the heart pumping, but once you have reached the top it is a glorious stroll along the ridge.

Depending on how far you would like to go, there is a whole range of walks. If you are looking for something you can do with little legs in a few hours, this loop from the car park via Hollins Cross is always fun and also takes in the tumbledown old road that has been abandoned since 1979.

After the walk, there is an excellent little coffee van that sets up in the car park or you are very close to Castleton with its great selection of cafes (we love the quaint Three Roofs Cafe). Alternatively, there are lots of nice places to stop for a picnic on the walk itself.

Kinder Scout from Edale to Grindsbrook Clough

This is a proper walk that requires a little planning and judgement, depending on how capable your children are. The approach to Kinder Scout from Edale is my favourite way by far to head up this amazing hill, and you will be rewarded with some beautiful views for your efforts. The route below is a simple “up and down” one, but you can easily turn it into a loop by heading east or west from Grindsbrook Clough.

We tend to park in the Edale car park (Pay and Display but take cash! There is no option for card payment and no phone signal to pay by the app. When we were last there it was £7.40 for 4 hours and be warned that traffic enforcement love this carpark. Expect the car park to be full by 10am if the weather is good) and head up through the village.

The path starts off really easily, building into a gentle climb that leads up towards the Grindsbrook Clough but as you get closer to the top the path becomes steeper and rougher until the last bit of the climb is a graded scramble over bare rocks. According to the UK Scrambles guide it is rated Grade 1 which isn’t too much of a challenge but you know your kids capabilities best.

How it starts:

How it finishes:

Image Credit: The Wandering Wildflower

I don’t want to worry you, but this route really is amazing, and I would recommend starting out and seeing how far you can get. The path is, I think, unique in the way it gets steeper and tougher the closer you get to the summit.

In terms of options for food, The Penny Pot Cafe is a great place for a bite to ear but once you are on the hill itself there is nothing so make sure you load up on snacks!

Any suggestions for great Peak District walks?

So there we have it, the Spencer family’s favourite family walks in the Peak District! If you have any ideas for great family walks we would love to hear them so please comment below.

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About the authors

Our lives have been intertwined with a passion for exploration and a shared love for travel. Our adventures began long before we met, as we individually embarked on daring expeditions across the globe. Our paths finally converged, and we soon realized that our adventures were much more meaningful when shared!

After a brief hiatus to start a family, we eagerly embarked on a new chapter of our travel saga. Determined to instil in Georgia and Eva the values of discovery and open-mindedness, our goal is to embark on exciting escapades and explore breathtaking landscapes, bustling cities, and remote corners of the world. From hiking through mist-laden forests to snorkelling in turquoise seas, every adventure is an opportunity to create lasting memories as a family.

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