A-frames in Derbyshire with showers

Hills, forests, and wildlife-filled wetlands await campers in Derbyshire.

Popular camping styles for Derbyshire

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A-frames in Derbyshire with showers guide


If you want to experience the great outdoors and revel in the glorious English countryside, it’s hard to beat Derbyshire. The East Midlands county is set between the major cities of Manchester, Birmingham, and Sheffield, and its own county town is Matlock, although Derby is the largest city. The Peak District National Park covers a huge part of The Midlands, and this is where you’ll find some of the best campsites in Derbyshire. In a rather flat country, this national park stands apart as a hilly playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Its high gritstone edges, heather uplands, rivers, footpaths, and bike trails attract outdoor lovers, and camping offers incredible access to the scenery you’ve come to enjoy. Campsites can be found near natural landmarks like Stanage Edge, Mam Tor, and Kinder Scout, as well as near man-made hot spots like Chatsworth House and the market town of Bakewell. Derbyshire is home to other natural regions too, most notably the southern end of the Pennine Range, the Trent Valley, and part of the National Forest. Campers in the East Midlands typically focus on Derbyshire, as this county offers an abundance of natural settings that are still close enough to villages and towns for amenities.

Where to go

Peak District National Park

The central English jewel known as the Peak District largely falls within Derbyshire, but also extends into Staffordshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, and South and West Yorkshire. It’s the high moorland plateaus, steep limestone valleys, and cliffy outcrops that make the landscape here so special—and the best part is that there are more than 550 miles within the boundaries of the park. Here, there’s open access land and hundreds of miles of footpaths, cycling routes, and bridleways that make it easy to explore. At Dovedale in the southern part of the park, you can walk alongside the River Dove before crossing on its famous stepping stones. The force of water has resulted in the formation of one of the Peak District’s other natural wonders too—its caves and caverns. Wild camping isn’t automatically allowed in the park, but campers can easily find an abundance of beautiful private campsites.


Derbyshire’s largest city offers a range of accommodation options and facilities for campers, although most traditional camping options are in Derby’s hinterland, in semi-rural areas. Partly because of the climate—which is cold in winter, with snow common at higher elevations around Derby—many caravan parks offer cabin and glamping pod accommodations, although tent and caravan camping is a good option in summer.

Trent Valley

In southern Derbyshire, this river valley has been damaged by industrialisation, agriculture, and extraction, but the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is working towards restoring the important wetlands and bird habitats. Spot birds and animals such as otters and bitterns at the Willington Wetlands, Hilton Willow Pit, and Witch’s Oak Water nature reserves. Campers wanting to visit the Trent Valley can stay around Derby, around Nottingham or Loughborough.

The National Forest

Large swathes of the Midlands, including Derbyshire, were damaged by mining, heavy industry, and deforestation over the centuries. The National Forest project aims to restore large-scale forests throughout this part of the country—the first in around 1,000 years. Now it’s 200 square miles of mixed habitat forest that acts as a green lung for Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Staffordshire. Campers can stay at campsites, caravan parks, lodges,  and glamping sites across the National Forest area.

Family camping in Derbyshire

Camping is a great way to holiday with kids, and family-friendly campsites in Derbyshire are easy to come by. It’s our experience that children make the great outdoors their playground, and campsite life gives them the freedom to do that. Camping sites where cars are parked away from the tents are especially good for families with younger children, and places with noise curfews can be a blessing when it comes to bedtime. We know lots of families bring along four-legged friends too, so dog-friendly campsites are also available.

Towns and villages in Derbyshire

Both in and around Peak District National Park are villages worth visiting. Bakewell is the park’s sole town within its boundaries, and its legendary puddings, shops, and setting on the River Wye are magnets to visitors. As a result, excellent camping sites can be found near Bakewell, serving as convenient base camps for any Peak District explorer who doesn’t fancy straying too far from civilisation. But if you prefer to be nearer to a footpath than a food outlet, you might want to head for a campsite out in the countryside. For a base with easy access to the rugged north part of the park, try the villages of Edale and Hathersage or the Hope Valley. In the southern part of the park, Dovedale offers excellent walking and the famous stepping stones on the River Dove.

Historically one of the most popular spots in Derbyshire, Buxton is surrounded by the national park but outside its boundaries. Made popular as a spa resort in the 18th century, Buxton has a genteel feel with Georgian architecture and neatly manicured Pavilion Gardens. A campsite near Buxton can make a convenient base, as the town is well connected. Also outside the park, the market towns of Ashbourne and Matlock are considered its southern gateways. Both offer easy access from The Midlands and the South, and each is a destination in its own right. Matlock offers the Heights of Abraham county park and a station on the scenic Peak Rail heritage railway. Ashbourne is smaller and quieter, home to eateries and antique shops within hiking distance of Dovedale. Between Ashbourne and Matlock is Carsington Water, a reservoir with watersports and an RSPB reserve.

Top things to do in Derbyshire

  • Whether it’s walking, cycling, horseriding, climbing, caving, sightseeing, or just the joy of camping that’s brought you here, the Peak District National Park visitor centres are good places to start. Located in the tourist hubs of Bakewell, Castleton, Edale, and Upper Derwent, each centre can share up-to-date information on park conditions.
  • When it comes to the best walking routes, we recommend the hikes up Mam Tor, across Kinder Scout, along Stanage Edge, and around Dovedale. If you’re in the mood for a longer walk, how about stepping out on the Pennine Way, which starts in Edale? Okay, so the 267-mile route along “England’s backbone” probably isn’t the one to set out on unprepared, but you could follow a section of the route for starters. The Peak District has a few family-friendly, traffic-free routes suitable for walking, cycling, or horseriding too.
  • Perhaps the best-known tourist attraction in Derbyshire is Chatsworth House, seat of the Duke of Devonshire and part of a huge country estate. Many other Derbyshire homes are also open to the public, including the medieval Haddon Hall on the outskirts of Bakewell.
  • Many visitors make a point to visit the Blue John Cavern or Speedwell Cavern near Edale.
  • Campers can learn about industry underground at The Peak District Lead Mining Museum in Matlock. This market town is also close to the Heights of Abraham Country Park and Gulliver’s Kingdom theme park, which should keep younger kids amused.

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