Spanning five counties, the Peak District National Park’s varied landscapes, brimming with hills, valleys, rivers and reservoirs, provide an ideal backdrop for family-friendly adventures.

A visit to the Peak District can be as exhilarating or as relaxing as you like, with activities ranging from the gentle – walking with alpacas and riding the monthly musical folk train – to the thrilling – hang gliding, rock climbing and caving.

There are opportunities for experienced climbers and cavers as well as experience days and courses offered by operators across the Peak District that cater to solo adventurers, friend groups and families, and booking onto one can make for a unique holiday experience.

It’s easy enough to rent a bike or go for a hike under your own steam. For something slightly more involved, take a look at the following family-friendly activities and courses in the Peaks.

Higger Tor from Stanage Edge Peak District

View of Higger Tor from Stanage Edge

Family-friendly courses & activities in the Peaks

Climbing courses

Regarded as one of the best places in the country for outdoor climbing, the Peak District has climbs for all abilities, with venues for trad, top rope climbing, bouldering and scrambling.

Learning the ropes under supervision is vital to staying safe and ensuring you have an enjoyable experience. Numerous operators offer climbing experience days and training across the Peak District. This is a fun activity for all ages as well as being a great work out.

Peak District Dove Hole

Dove Hole in the Dove Valley

Caving & potholing

There are a cluster of large cave systems concentrated in the Hope Valley area, many of which are open to the public for fun tours. For something extra thrilling, caving and potholing courses will get you deeper underground.

Castleton is well known for its impressive caverns accessible to the general public on guided tours, but a web of passageways, underground rivers and caves branches across the whole area.

Potholing should only be undertaken accompanied by an experienced guide, but there are courses and experience days offered by companies to suit all abilities that will have you scrambling through tight gaps between rocks as you descend further and further underground.

Peak District Carsington Waters

Carsington Water in Derbyshire

Watersports

Rivers and reservoirs are scattered across the region with plenty of watersports on offer, from canoeing and kayaking along the canals and rivers to wild swimming in local lakes as well as paddle boarding and windsurfing.

Canoeing is a good family activity, with younger children able to enjoy the ride as you head down the river spotting wildlife as you go. Wetsuits are recommended as the waterways in the Peak District are always pretty chilly. Operators generally include equipment or have it available for hire. Day and multi-day activities are offered in a variety of sports across the Peak District.

Lathkill dale derbyshire peak district england uk

The River Lathkill running through Lathkill Dale

Photography courses

The Peak District is one good looking place, with deep valleys, long stretching escarpments and wild moorlands covered in heather. This makes it a great spot to try your hand at landscape and nature photography, popular for professionals and casual photographers alike. With the changing seasons the landscape develops, so visiting any time of the year has its merits.

If you’re not a confident photographer, or you’d just like to work on your technical skills, there are courses on wildlife and landscape photography, as well as more specialised courses such as climbing photography.

These courses are great for people looking for a more relaxed activity and can generally be customised to suit abilities, including fitness levels and accessibility.

Burbage Brook Peak District

Burbage Brook

Gorge walking

Gorge walking, also known as river scrambling and Ghyll scrambling involves clambering over rocks, trudging through rivers and squeezing between tight spaces.

With activity days suitable for most ages, it can be great fun and feels very adventurous as you scramble your way up waterfalls against the rushing river.

Peak District Higger Tor to Carl Wark

View from Higger Tor

Hiking and walking holidays are popular in the Peak District, with easy-to-follow, way-marked, footpaths in virtually every direction.

Expanding your navigation skills takes hiking to a new level, and there are several activity days and courses on using a compass, planning routes and map reading, plus safety and survival skills. These courses range from very basic navigation to more technical skills heading off the well trodden tracks.

Getting to the Peak District

Situated in the Midlands with close connections to the M1 motorway and several major trunk roads, the Peak District is easily accessible by car. This means it gets busy in the summer and on sunny days. Expect traffic in popular spots and around the towns.

There are public transport connections, but they’re fairly patchy and infrequent. There are bus and train links from the nearby cities, including Sheffield and Manchester, with buses connecting smaller towns.

There are a string of railway stations through the stunning Hope Valley, serving Edale and Kinder Scout, while the Transpeak buses link the Peak towns between Derby and Buxton. Up-to-date timetables can be found online, with some buses running less frequently than others, but if all else fails, there are taxi services running throughout the Peak District.

When to visit the Peak District

The weather can be changeable year-round, so come prepared to experience all four seasons in a single day. Most of the courses listed here go ahead in all but the most extreme conditions.

In winter months, snow can fall quickly in the peaks, with the Snake Pass and Woodhead pass liable to close at short notice. Statuses can be checked online, as well as areas being susceptible to fog year round, dramatically reducing visibility.

Further info

Family-Friendly Activities In The Peak District

Helen Moat

Helen Moat is author of Bradt Guides' Slow Travel The Peak District. She is also a regular contributor for Wanderlust, Derbyshire Life, BBC Countryfile, among others. Now settled in the Peak District, she is constantly inspired by the landscape and the people and places shaped by the Peak.

Family-Friendly Activities In The Peak District

Rosie Bellwood

Rosie is a writer from Sheffield who has spent the last couple of years pottering about Europe, Southeast Asia and New Zealand, writing screenplays and blogging about her favourite films.

Why Horizon Guides?

Impartial guidebooks

Impartial guidebooks

Our travel guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for impartial travel advice.

Expert itineraries

Expert itineraries

Suggested itineraries and routes to help you scratch beneath the surface, avoid the tourist traps, and plan an authentic, responsible and enjoyable journey.

Specialist advice

Specialist advice

Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the world’s best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book.