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This is part 1 of a 4 part series looking at Family Adventures including Walking, Climbing, Scrambling and Mountain Biking
With it's varied landscapes, rich human history and easy accessibility by car and public transport the Peak District is the ideal place to introduce your family to the wilder side of life. 

There is already a lot of very good, thoughtful guidance available online for how to engage children in the great outdoors so I will only lightly touch on that here. Instead this article will mostly focus on specific suggestions for locations and activities that experience has shown work well. 




Generally these ideas are aimed at children between toddler and young teen; any younger than that and you can pop then in a carrier and take them anywhere you want (providing you are suitably equipped and motivated!), any older and they are capable of doing everything you can (often better than you as well, one of the joys of getting older!).

Firstly though a word or warning, as a parent (particularly an adventurous one) one of the hardest things to do can be to manage your own sense of expectation. Expect to do less than you expect, often you won't get to the top of the hill or the end of the route you had planned. Be prepared to explore whatever engages your child's curiosity and stop regularly for snack breaks.

Save the big hills for those days when the grandparents are taking the strain (at least until your children are old enough that you are struggling to keep up!). 



Whatever you are planning it's worth taking along a few additional supplies to add interest to the day, particularly with younger children. Give you child a rucksack of their own (there are sizes suitable for every age group) and load it with a few useful items making sure to leave room for the sticks, stones and leaves that they pick up and absolutely have to bring home with them.

Depending on the age of your child items to take could include: a kite (think small and light, my son had a “kite in a bag” which was perfect), a few sheets of paper and some crayons (for drawing, playing noughts and crosses, taking rubbings of ancient stone signposts, making paper planes, paper boats to race on streams,....), small binoculars, magnifying glass, tennis ball, etc...

Add lots of snacks, drinks, plenty of warm clothes and waterproofs and you're ready to go so lets start thinking about where with the most straightforward of activities...

3 All Time Classic Walks in the Peak District


As a rule of thumb a kilometre of walking per year of age is roughly how far you can expect a child to be able to walk. Try to ensure that your route contains a lot of features to maintain interest, that could mean historical remains, tunnels, castles and windmills but equally streams, muddy puddles and trees to clamber over depending on your child's age and inclinations.

Some ideas to get you started (you will need the relevant OS maps to make full sense of these suggestions, don't try to walk them on the basis of these brief descriptions alone):

Padley Gorge


A long standing family favourite, there are lots of variations possible but this is what I would suggest: Start at the Surprise View car park (SK 25149 80094), cross the road and follow the path that runs parallel to it into the quarry that climbers call Lawrencefield but is more accurately called Bolehill quarry (SK 24853 79930). Just before the quarry see if you can count all the millstones stacked beside the path and then spend some time skimming stones on the pond.

Follow the main track through the quarry until you drop down through old oak forest onto the big track that leads up the side of the gorge itself. Depending on exactly which track you follow you may pass the old explosives store building (SK 25107 79213) just before you start walking up the gorge.

Make sure you find the money tree along the way and eventually you will arrive at the top where the trees thin out. In summer you will know you've arrived as you will be one of many families playing in the stream and picnicking on the grass. After indulging in an ice cream follow the path back over Owler Tor where you can pause for a quick scramble on the rocks before arriving back at the car park. 

Total distance approx. 3km

Burbage Valley


The nearby Burbage Valley really does provide everything for the young adventurer. It will get another mention later on as a potential site to go climbing but for now I'll just mention one of the opportunities for walking.

Start at Upper Burbage Bridge(SK 25973 82961) and follow the track south over Higgar Tor and on to Carl Wark. If you take the time to drop off the valley side of the path just before you get to the top of Higgar Tor you will find lots of opportunities for weaselling (squeezing between narrow gaps in the boulders and rock faces, a great activity and a real hit with children).

The long rock wall that guards the entrance to Carl Wark was for a long time taken as proof that it was used as a hill fort, now it's not quite so certain but don't let that spoil the opportunity to defend it from all invaders! The low scattered boulders on the top also make a great spot for some very gentle parcour or a game of hide and seek. When you have had enough drop down to the stream in the middle of the valley and follow it all the way back to your car. 

Total distance approx. 4km.

Chee Dale

Further south the limestone Chee Dale offers another fun possibility when combined with the Monsal Trail. Start at the Millers Dale car park (SK 13841 73266) and follow the disused train track west (a great children's bike route as well) through the old tunnels and fantastic scenery.

At various points you have the option of dropping down to the side of the river and following that back to the car. It's well worth doing as the stepping stones are great fun (although they are quite spaced out so can be a challenge for younger children) and the over hanging rock faces are truly impressive. 

Depending on what point you choose to turn back there are loops between approx 4km and 8km available. 

Final Words 


The number of potential walks in the Peak District is almost limitless, other places you might like to try with children: Visit the nine ladies while exploring Stanton Moor, Scramble on Black Rocks and down to the Cromford canal (particularly good on the days the Leawood Pump House is working), Along the Roaches and into Luds Church, and on and on... 

Hopefully this article has given you a few ideas to get you started on your next family adventure. There really are countless possibilities, particularly when you start to combine different activities into a single day. 

Before setting off remember that everything will take longer than you expect and make sure you are prepared for that. If you are in any doubt about your own ability to keep everyone safe on a particular trip then wait until you have gained more skill, experience and confidence. 

But, no matter what level you are starting from, there is an adventure that is suitable for you, so get out there and have some fun!

Written by Gavin Moy - Pure Outdoor Senior Instructor




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