‘You couldn’t walk the length of yourself,’ was the somewhat unkind reaction to my enthusiastic declaration on New Year’s Eve to walk as many of the UK’s national trails as possible in 2013. This, I felt, was unfair. I do have a particularly warm relationship with my sofa at any time of year, but I can certainly walk the length of myself – and often quite a bit more if I feel up to it.
Still, the disbelief of onlookers got a bit much. And there may have been bets laid, but things became a little vague at this point. Before I knew it, I was committed to checking trail paths, looking for walking festivals, and building hiking weekends into my work schedule as part of my Pitchup.com research techniques.
Which brings me to the Peak District in April for the events of the Peak District Walking Festival, which I definitely did not pick because there’s a walk from Castleton to a secret chocolate factory. I’ve been to the Peak District before for a Tissington Trail bike trip, but this will be the first time I’ll have walked a significant part of it on my own two feet. So I’ll need somewhere nice to stay, as always, which will be a campsite or holiday park, as always, because they’re available all over the country, good for any budget and range from a giant family holiday park to a tiny farm – I like to mix it up.
Here are a few Peak District camping options:
Callow Top Holiday Park: This is where I stayed on my Tissington Trail cycle trip, where it was not my fault at all that more time was spent sampling the wares of the park’s own micro-brewery than wobbling about on two wheels. Well, it was raining…This award-winning park is perfect for families too as it’s stuffed with things to do in all weathers: there’s a fishing lake, heated outdoor pool, bird hide, live music and family entertainment among loads more, with bikes available to hire on site for those who might get a bit further along Tissington than me.
Rivendale Caravan & Leisure Park: Also running alongside the Tissington Trail, Rivendale is where I think I’ll rest my weary feet in April for some Peak District glamping. As well as electric pitches for tents, touring caravans and motorhomes, the park has insulated camping pods sleeping up to three or four, but I think I’ll be tempted by the new two and three-bedroom wooden lodges sleeping four to six – a luxury fitted kitchen, widescreen telly, sun deck and Egyptian linen on my freshly made-up bed sound just the ticket, although it might be hard to leave the next day with sore feet.
Beaver Hill Equestrian Centre: If you have a small person coming to the Peak District with you, they’ll probably show unbridled enthusiasm for camping at Beaver Hill, with pony rides available led by experienced handlers. The centre is less than a mile from the Peak District National Park and a few miles’ walk from the market town of Leek: there’s a market every Wednesday and several antique shops to browse around. Pitches at Beaver Hill are for motorhomes and caravans, and the site welcomes dogs.
Common End Farm: One of our many farm sites, Common End is in a small peaceful location with views across to Dovedale and with easy access to the Tissington and Manifold trails using the footpaths running alongside the site. It’s three miles from the historic market town of Ashbourne, where walkers can pick up some gingerbread or amble among the couple of hundred listed buildings, and it’s also a short walk from Thor’s Cave in the Manifold Valley. Pitches at Common End Farm start from £15 a night for tents, touring caravans and motorhomes, with dogs welcome.
As I’ve now done what I always do when planning a holiday and made A List A Mile Long (I never know when to stop), I’ll be making the Peak District a destination after the walking break too, for things like the Jane Eyre Hathersage Trail, swinging in the cable cars at the Heights of Abraham and taking a tram ride at Crich Tramway Village. There’s also the full length of the Pennine Way to manage at some point as well, or perhaps I could just walk the Peak District bit: it’s more than the length of me, after all…