Derbyshire (Peak District)
Some of Britain's most picturesque countryside is found in north Derbyshire. High, rocky crags rise from rugged moorlands of heather and peat, intercut by lushly pastured and wooded dales. A large part of north Derbyshire is incorporated within the 540 square-mile Peak District National Park, the first such park in Britain. Edale, located in the very heart of the area, is where the Pennine Way begins, a 250-mile track running along the backbone of England to the Scottish border. Tucked in amongst this vastness are many attractive stone hamlets, usually sited below the great ‘edges', a Derbyshire name for the ridges that tower over the valleys. The Peak District is most certainly ‘adventure country', ideal for walking, riding, climbing and pot-holing. There are many underground caverns and natural tunnels where visitors can view the strange and wondrous world of stalactites and stalagmites.The high ridges of mid Derbyshire are broken-up by some of the most beautiful river-valley country in England, particularly along the course of the Rivers Wye, Derwent and Dove.
Around the Matlocks the countryside is rich in history and archaeology, with fine old manor houses, Norman churches and stone circles. The caves at Matlock were originally leadmines worked by the Romans.
In the south-west is Dove Dale, the most famous and striking of all the Derbyshire Dales; a scenic two-mile stretch of the River Dove, flowing swiftly through a richly wooded limestone gorge, is known as Little Switzerland. Spectacular rock formations along the river gorge include Jacob's Ladder and the Twelve Apostles; the Dove is famous for trout and was fished by Isaak Walton, author of the ‘Complete Angler'.
South Derbyshire lacks the rugged grandeur of the Dales and the Peak District further north, but it is fine walking country with large areas of soft undulating, pastoral scenery through which rivers meander lazily. The focal point of South Derbyshire is manmade rather than natural; it is the ancient city of Derby. With much to offer in the present day, it also has a long history, shaped in its early days by both Roman and Danish conquerors.