Alight in Sheffield for excellent connections into the Peak District.
South Yorkshire’s largest settlement, Sheffield is best-known for its steel industry and The Crucible snooker venue, but it is also a jumping-off point for one of the UK’s finest national parks, the Peak District National Park. The Peak District and the famous Pennine Way, which begins at Edale, can be explored by regular trains from Sheffield through stations like Hathersage and Edale. With the city’s western and southwestern suburbs brushing the Peak District’s borders, the best camping can be found at campsites just within the park.
This is where UK national parks began. It was the 1932 Mass Trespass of Kinder Scout, the park’s highest summit, which largely influenced the subsequent creation of a national network of protected countryside spaces. The park’s only mountains, Kinder Scout and Bleaklow, are here, ensconced in moorland plateau. They’re closest to Sheffield, with suburb Totley right on the boundary. Edale, start of the Pennine Way long-distance trail, has great camping.
South of Sheffield, the White Peak is a gentle, feel-good introduction to the Peak District. The limestone landscape lends itself to undulating dales, and while there are many lonely spots, popular spa towns Matlock Bath and Buxton draw visitors, as does the Chatsworth House and Gardens, one of Britain’s loveliest country estates. Along the winding, wood-flanked rivers are excellent campsites—start at Lathkill Dale, where several sites flank the steep valley sides.
Bounded by Macclesfield, Buxton, Kettleshulme, and Ilam, the South West Peak mixes the Dark Peak’s barren plateau with lower-lying pastures—and deeply scored cloughs, or wooded valleys, divide the two. Dane Valley Way and Churnet Way are two long-distance hikes that pass through. Although the South West Peak is the farthest part of the Peak District from Sheffield, it’s usually the least visited. The Manifold Valley stands out for its beauty, quiet, and pretty pitches.
Sheffield’s warmest months of the year are June through August, with temperatures in the 19-21°C range. July and August are school summer holiday months, and while Sheffield is often quieter at this time, the surrounding Peak District is far busier. Sheffield campers should consider a trip in May, with the highest sunshine hours and lowest monthly average rainfall. Sheffield’s Festival of the Outdoors (March) and Walking Festival (September) are great events in town, though there are many other festivals too.