The Peak District With A Toddler And A Buggy

photo of Errwood hall reservoir, Buxton
The view from the Errwood Hall Car Park


So, this  in was our first visit to the Peak District (in UK) and we decided to go in December 2018 (more on this later). Before going, I did a lot of research on the things to do in the Peak District for families. Most of what I found was targeted at families with older children than my daughter so I had to specifically find activities suitable for a toddler at her age (16 months) and considering that I will be using a buggy all the time.


We decided to stay in Buxton and travel to different attractions from there. It is a great place to be a “base” for your journey. The town itself is lovely and has all amenities that you might need if you just wanted to chill one day. It has a lovely city centre that has lots of local shops as well as famous ones (we ate at Pizza Express there but there are others restaurants offering Asian, Thai food and others).


Finding Accommodation in the Peak District:

We took the train from London Euston to Stockport (direct) then hired a car from there to explore the Peak District. It is only a 2 hour journey by train while it would have taken double this duration by car from London. You can take a train from Stockport to Buxton.


We stayed at the Premier Inn in Buxton. There are many good hotels in Buxton but with a toddler, we were not ready to take any chances. Some of the hotels in the area are a tad old. I’m always confident that I will find the same standards when I go to the Premier Inn. This branch was also relatively new so that was a plus. This branch was not on booking.com so I booked it through the official website. We were also able to get a cot in our room ( I was able to request this when I booked through their website). Yes, there is no fridge in their standard rooms but this is the case in all their branches as far as I know.

The hotel has lots of free secure parking spots and is conveniently next to a gas station with a little shop. There are other shops a short walk from there and the town centre literally has everything you need.

Pushchair friendly walks near Buxton, Derbyshire

The Peak District is full of amazing walks and wonderful scenery but not all of them are suitable for children and definitely not with a pushchair!

So, how can you find suitable ones?

Keep reading!

Just a short drive from Buxton (about 15 minutes) is the Goyt Valley. While driving, we were amazed by the scenery, the valley, the trees and all the different colours!

We parked at the Errwood Hall Car Park and walked from there enjoying beautiful views of the lake and also walked along the river which was beautiful. This is both one of the easiest and most scenic walks near Buxton.

For starters, let me just show you the view from the car park:





Now, there are a few walk ideas in the areas that are "buggy friendly" and we found these from some useful websites, mostly targeted at people who use a wheelchair or has a buggy.

The walks and many other scenery and things to do can be found on the Accessible Derbyshire website. The Peak District National Park also have their own youtube channel with a few videos for people with accessibility needs.

However, one problem with some websites is that they are a bit old. The second problem we had is that it was December so there was a lot of rain before we arrived and because it was muddy, we found it a bit difficult to navigate with a buggy.

But the best source in my opinion is the  Goyt Valley website which has a very easy guide to many walks, with step by step explanation, photos, maps and video walk-throughs. We picked the "easiest walk" which is the riverside walk.

We followed most of the trail from the car park and as I said it was amazing, then we followed the same way back. I have to mention that at some points where we found a couple of steps, we had to carry the buggy. If I was doing this again I would probably just use a baby carrier instead of a buggy. This is a short walk (2 miles) that did not really take long, it is one of the easy family walks that are available. I found it exciting to do the walk and it brought back lots of childhood memories and adventures. When you reach the riverside, you can just sit there and enjoy the tranquility (or sit at the reservoir before you reach the car park).

To get an idea of the walk (and the whole trip), you can check my short video:





Judging by the photos on the website, I am sure things would have been much easier if we were there during the Spring or Summer months.

There are benches at certain points that you can stop at to sit and enjoy the scenery. There are some perfect spots for a picnic (obviously not in winter when it is muddy) with some breath-taking scenes.


Another walk I would suggest is the Errwood Circular, which is just in the same area and could also be another family walk in the Peak District. Check this video for another walk with a baby as well.



Walks and Things to do in the Peak District with a buggy:

Walks:
Photo of the Monsal trail
The Monsal Trail. From Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

  • The Mosal Trail. This is a very popular walk that is easy with a buggy according to many reviews. Cyclists also enjoy it. A good location to start is the Hassops car park then head to Millers Dale. The trail uses an old train line tracks and the scenery sounds promising.
  • The Derwent Reservoir. Again, easy to explore for wheelchair and buggy users. Nice views over the reservoir in the valley.
  • Castleton Peak: A nice short walk that start in Castleton visitor centre.
  • The Goyt Valley walks I mentioned above.
  • The Tissington trail from Hartington to Alsop and follow the same route back. Another recommended route by some is from Parsley Hay to Ruby Wood. This is also an old railway line.
  • The Tideswell walk is another nice walk but has some steps so you could either do part of it or use a baby carrier instead.
  • A really easy walk would be the one one the grounds of the Chatsworth house and garden.

 

Other family friendly things to do in Derbyshire:



  • In Buxton itself, you can go and visit the Pooles Caverns and Country Park. You will need one of their guided tours so please call to ask about the timing. Also, they don't do any tours during weekend. This is a cool indoor attraction but it is not the only one.
  • Also in Buxton, you can visit the Pavilion Gardens which offer some beautiful scenery and walks but unfortunately we did not have enough time to go there.
  • Go on a Discover Buxton Heritage tour!
  • Go back in time and ride a steam train from Matlock station.
  • There is also the Blue John Cavern in Castleton but the cavern itself is not accessible.
  • Visit the Chatsworth House Garden and centre. There is a farm, a playground and a cafe, all fully accessible. Not a long drive from there.
  • Go to Matlock Farm Park, read below to know about our visit to this lovely and family friendly place.
  • Take a drive between Castleton - Mam Tor and Speedwell Cavern and enjoy the stunning scenery.
  • Visit the Moorland Centre in Edale to see the exhibition about the plants and animals of the Peak District and explore the surrounding area. Please check online for their opening times as they are a bit specific.
  • Visit Buxton's Opera House if you are into opera!
  • Buxton Museum and art gallery.
  • Bakewell museum.
  • Peak Cavern.
  • Take a train trip with Peak Rail.

Visiting The Peak District in Winter (December)


The weather was actually better than we expected and we managed to do the whole journey without much rain (only on our way back).

Here are some tips if you are traveling there in winter:


  • Remember to take an umbrella! We just kept on in the buggy all the time.
  • You will need some good boots, and don't forget wellies for the kids!
  • For your car, make sure your wipers are working and in good condition.
  • There was no need to worry about a SatNav as Google Maps was able to navigate through most areas.
  • A full body snow suit for your toddler is a great idea if they will be doing any walking or exploring.
  • You will need an all-terrain pushchair.


Visiting Matlock Farm Park

The rabbits!
We then headed to the Matlock Farm Park. It is not in Buxton but the drive to Matlock took only about 40 minutes. Remember the roads were not busy, I could imagine it is a bit busier during summer. Apart from all the usual farm animals like chicken, pigs and ponies, they also had rheas, llamas, deer and even meerkats!

The entry fee is not that expensive and you can buy animal food so kids can feed the animals as they see them. It is easy to walk around with a buggy and they also have a session for kids to handle small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs as well as feeding the meerkats. For older children, they can also ride a pony or a horse. They even have a ferret race!



So as you can see in the photos, we went to the small animal handling session. We were also lucky because the same nice lady saw us later and told us it was about time to feed he meerkats which we did. She was even kind to let us help with this and told us about their names. Turns out the meerkats are all one big family (with 1 alpha male or father).

The farm also have a large indoor play area for children as well as toddlers called the rain-forest, attached to it is a restaurant  so the parents can to eat or drink something while watching the kids play. There is also a quieter cafe if you prefer that.

All staff were very friendly and helpful and they helped us make the most of the trip and answered all questions we had. Make sure you call them beforehand to know the times of sessions and any special events happening or any questions you have. People also have birthday parties and other events there.



My daughter was weirdly scared so my husband ended up petting the Guiniea pig


 About car rental:

Because we were traveling over the weekend, we had to do some research to find a company that offers a) an option to add a car seat and b) an open nearby branch on Sunday to return the car to. We ended up with Europcar because we were visiting friends near Manchester Airport and their airport branch was open on Sunday.
I would highly recommend paying for an automatic car as it will make driving along they valleys and those upward steep roads easier.

My tips for renting a car:


  • Try to book early to find a car that you are comfortable with.
  • Search online for a discount voucher or call the company and ask if they offer any discounts.
  • Pay attention to details like prices, price of additional stuff like the car seat.
  • Call the branch you are picking the car up from to confirm everything and specially on the day you arrive. The car we booked was unavailable on the day so they gave us an upgrade to a better ca that was also automatic. So, call early to speed things up a bit. Unfortunately, we were told the cars were subject to availability (even though we pre-booked it!).
  • Try to be careful and keep the car clean. Normal everyday use should not really be an issue but they can charge you extra if you return the car in a bad state. Consider washing the car before returning it if you have messed things up.

The whole trip lasted for two and a half days. I am glad I broke this barrier and proved to myself that I can still have adventures as a mom! You too definitely can! If you have not been there, going to the Peak District with a toddler is great fun.

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments. And, if you have any experience about the Peak District why not share it with others in the comments!

Thanks.

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