Discover The Peak District
Britain's First National Park
The Peak District is well known as one of the finest walking areas in the UK and it's journey to National Park status began in the early 20th Century. In 1932, after demands for public access to the countryside had been growing, an event took place called "The Mass Trespass". A group of walkers exercised their rights to walk openly through the countryside travelling to Kinder Scout and five were actually arrested! Following this, the White Paper on National Parks was published in which Sir Arthur Hobhouse described the requirements for somewhere to be a National Park;
"The essential requirements of a National Park are that it should have great natural beauty, a high value for open-air recreation and substantial continuous extent. Further, the distribution of selected areas should as far as practicable be such that at least one of them is quickly accessible from each of the main centres of population in England and Wales"
In 1949 the act was passed in Parliament to establish National Parks and The Peak District became the first official National Park in 1951.
And it is easy to understand why! It is an area of wonderful natural beauty surrounded by more urban areas and offers contrasting landscapes, dramatic geology and rich wildlife habitats. So when you are out walking in the Peak District, imagine yourself in the shoes of the hardy walkers in 1932 who fought for everyone to have access to these amazing landscapes.
Literary Connections of the Peak District
The Peak District has served as inspiration for many writers. Here are some of the most famous literary associations you may recognise!
Charlotte Brontë and Jane Eyre - Charlotte visited the elegant town of Hathersage with her family in 1845 and was so inspired and taken by the surrounding landscapes they ended up in her classic novel, Jane Eyre. North Lees Hall in Hathersage is said to be the setting for Mr Rochester's Thornfield Hall which features in the novel.
Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice - the fictional country estate of Pemberley, owned by the infamous Mr Darcey, is said to be based on Chatsworth House and in 2005, the movie adaptation of the novel featuring Keira Knightley was shot there.
Robin Hood - at St Michael's Church in Hathersage, a gravestone stands which is said to be that of Little John, trusted sidekick of legendary rebel Robin Hood, and one of the "Merry Men". In actual fact, "little" John was apparently a huge man, and when you see the size of the grave this may certainly suggest this.
Peak District Facts
Most accessible National Park - close to Manchester, Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham, The Peak District is the most accessible of all the National Parks in England.
The name Peak does not mean mountains - despite what you may think, the name "Peak" does not mean mountains - there are none in the Peak District. Instead, it is thought to come from Pecsaetan, an Anglo-Saxon tribe who settled the area.
Historic Monuments - there are over 400 historic monuments in the Peak District including a Bronze Age Stone Circle and a Neolithic henge.
It is over 90% farmland - with over 1800 farms, this makes the vast majority of the Peak District farmland
Well-Dressing - The Peak District is home to this Pagan custom in which people thank gods for their clean water by covering wells in a wooden frame decorated with petals, beans and seeds. There is a well-dressing festival in Buxton every year.