Accessible guide to the Peak District
Limestone valleys, rivers and quaint villages form the Peak District, one of the most popular UK holiday destinations. Although it may not immediately spring to mind as an accessible location, there are plenty of attractions and walks perfect for those who may rely on a stairlift at home.
In this article, we take a look at some of the most exciting accessible attractions in the Peak District as well as spectacular walks and viewpoints.
Accessible attractions in the Peak District and Derbyshire
The Heights of Abraham, Matlock
Perched on the top of Masson Hill, The Heights of Abraham is undoubtedly one of the most exciting attractions in the Peak District. High above the picturesque town of Matlock and the surrounding countryside, the Heights of Abraham cable car takes visitors up to the hilltop where many exciting features await. Walks, caverns and fascinating exhibitions offer an insight into the history and geology of the Peak District.
The cable cars have been adapted to accommodate wheelchairs and mobility scooters, however you may wish to check with The Heights of Abraham team if you are travelling with larger mobility equipment. The Long View, Fossil Factory and Window on the Peak exhibitions are all accessible, as well as the Through the Lens film show of the Great Masson Cavern, Vista Bar and restaurant, Terrace Café and gift shops.
Chatsworth House, Bakewell
Home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth House is a grand stately home near Bakewell. The impressive building sits on the bank of the River Derwent, overlooking the Derwent and Wye valleys. Chatsworth House has been adapted to accommodate wheelchair users, including a lift to explore the upper floors.
“We are delighted to be one of the few stately homes who can provide visitors with mobility issues access to all areas of the visitor route, as we have a lift to all floors of the house,” said Paul Hayes, visitor services manager at Chatsworth. “There is good wheelchair access to most of the garden, farmyard, shops and restaurants and a free shuttle buggy also runs between the house, stables and farmyard on request. Manual wheelchairs and mobility scooters are available for visitors to borrow free of charge each day, and we also have a team of volunteers on hand each day to help with accessibility requirements too.
“Every day brings something different at Chatsworth, whether you’re here to admire the splendour of the house, explore the garden , meet the animals in the farmyard, enjoy afternoon tea and shopping in the stables or at the award-winning Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop in Pilsey, we always look forward to welcoming you. Each year we host a number of special events including the Horse Trials, Country Fair and Christmas markets, and from November the house will be transformed for Christmas. We also stage a number of special exhibitions, such as the Sotheby’s Beyond Limits sculpture exhibition in the garden every autumn.”
The enchanting garden is also accessible, and buggy tours are available for a small additional charge. The closest lane of the house car park is reserved for blue badge holders and is free to use. There are also adapted toilets near the house entrance, in the Carriage House restaurant and in the farmyard.
Peak Wildlife Park, Winkhill
See some of the world’s most endangered mammals at Peak Wildlife Park. This unique Peak District attraction is perfect for families and animal lovers, as it offers the chance to interact with lemurs, penguins and wallabies. The park is accessible to those with limited mobility as the paths are wide and well-surfaced.
Crich Tramway Village, Matlock
A museum collection of trams runs through this remarkable village in Matlock. Crich Tramway Village is perhaps one of the most unique attractions in the UK, offering visitors the chance to ride on vintage trams. Over 60 trams built between 1900 and 1930 run through the village, which has a pub, café and old sweet shop.
The team at Crich Tramway Village told us why this attraction is a must-see on your visit to the Peak District and Derbyshire: “Visitors can ride the operational trams as many times as they wish, and will experience fabulous views over the Derwent Valley during the tip. There is a woodland walk and sculpture trail and dogs on a lead are welcome.”
To ensure that everyone can enjoy the attraction, Crich Tramway Village offers a special service for disabled visitors. The Access Tram (Berlin 3006) has an appropriate platform so that you can enjoy a tram ride with your wheelchair. The team kindly told us more about the access at Crich Tramway Village:
“People with limited mobility can access the exhibitions, which are either at ground level or have a lift to access them. There is a Red Lion Pub, which has ground floor access, and Rita’s Tearoom, which has a ramp for access.
“The Access Tram runs twice a day at 11.30am and 2.30pm if requested on arrival at admissions. This has been specially adapted with a hydraulic lift for wheelchairs (up to 4 per trip). Wheelchairs can be hired for a refundable deposit of £10 per day. There is a smooth-way from admissions to the tram terminus allowing for wheelchairs and pushchairs to access the site more easily.”
For more information, take a look at the website’s accessibility section.
Pavilion Gardens, Buxton
In the heart of Buxton, the Pavilion Gardens is the hub of the town, housing the Tourist Information Centre, restaurants and 23 acres of pretty gardens. The centre is accessible throughout, either with level access or lifts for wheelchair users, and offers several disabled toilets. Numerous tarmac paths will lead you through the picturesque gardens and along a tranquil lake.
Attractions with partial access
Although the access is restricted, visitors with limited mobility can see the spectacular main chamber of Pooles Cavern. Journey beneath the earth to see impressive limestone caverns and learn about the crystal stalactites and stalagmites lining the chamber. To discover archaeology discovered at the site, head to the visitor centre, which has level access. There’s also an adapted disabled toilet.
Based in Bakewell, Thornbridge Brewery produces a selection of exquisite beers. Having accumulated over 200 national and international awards, it’s safe to say beer fans are in safe hands here. To get a behind-the-scenes look at the brewery, visitors can take a tour. The main brewery is accessible to those with mobility issues, however, its website states that some areas may not be suitable.
Bosolver Castle, a mostly ruined castle and stately home, towers over its namesake town in Derbyshire. As well as offering an insight into the building’s history inside, the grounds of Bolsover Castle are truly spectacular. Although the castle itself is not accessible, the grounds, picnic area, shop, café and visitor centre are suitable for those with limited mobility. Disabled parking and accessible toilet facilities are available on site.
Easy access walks in the Peak District
Upper Derwent Valley
Home to The Howden Reservoir, one of the most beautiful sights in the Peak District, Upper Derwent Valley is a must-see on your visit. Dense forests line the water’s edge and in the winter, a dusting of snow covers the mountains. Head to the visitor centre, which is accessible to wheelchair users and has disabled toilet facilities. Here you can buy refreshments and find out more about the history of the reservoirs.
The Upper Derwent Valley Trail, an 18-mile circuit around the Ladybower Reservoir, is accessible to people with limited mobility. To hire disability-adapted cycles and mobility scooters, visit the cycle-hire centre at Fairholmes.
The beautiful valley of Dovedale is perhaps one of the most popular sights in the Peak District. Its limestone ravines and tranquil river can be found in the south of the national park. For those who usually rely on the help of a stairlift and may be travelling with mobility aids, there is a tarmac path along the west bank to reach the stepping stones, the valley’s most iconic viewpoint. Although it’s not a long walk, it’s well worth bringing a picnic here on a sunny day.
On the edge of the Peak District National Park, Cromford Canal runs for 14.5 miles from the picturesque village of Cromford to the Erewash Canal in Derbyshire. The five-mile walk along the canal is suitable for those with mobility problems and if needed, tramper scooters are available to hire at High Peak Junction. Look out for wildlife such as water voles and dragonflies, watch the canal boats float by and admire the canal-side cottages at Cromford.
Another breath-taking viewpoint is Surprise View, which can be found near the villages of Hathersage and Nether Padley. This is a wonderful place to stop and take in the countryside views. A level tarmacked car park sits at the edge of the moorland and is free to blue badge holders. The path to the viewpoint overlooking Hope Valley is wheelchair accessible. In the nearby village of Calver, enjoy a cosy pub meal at The Bridge Inn, a 17th century inn on the banks of the River Derwent. It offers level access throughout, a disabled toilet and a beautiful, accessible beer garden.
Monsal Trail and Monsal Head viewpoint
Look out over Monsal Dale and the impressive Headstone Viaduct at the viewpoint of Monsal Head, close to the village of Little Longstone. The viewpoint offers a short stay car park, free to blue badge holders. There is a small 150mm step onto the verge where there are plenty of seats to enjoy the view.
If you’d like to explore the area on a walk, you can join the Monsal Trail. It begins at Bakewell, passing through the countryside for approximately four miles to Monsal Viaduct. You can join the trail at various locations. For full details and a downloadable map, take a look at the Peak District National Park website.
Don’t let limited mobility stop you from exploring the UK. The Peak District and Derbyshire have so much to offer, even if you usually need a stairlift or if you are travelling with a wheelchair or mobility scooter. So, what are you waiting for?