There’s something about being together in the great outdoors that inspires romance; space to connect, beautiful views, and zero distractions (read: WiFi). What the Peak District lacks in elevation, it makes up for in charm and whimsy. With tales of lost lovers, romantic traditions, and spots where you can simply sit and watch the sunrise or stargaze, follow in the footsteps of loved-up souls with these romantic walks in the Peak District.
Words and images: Francesca Donovan | Main image: Walkers watch a hazy sunrise on Winnats Pass.
Please respect the environment and the local communities by ensuring you leave no trace on your Peak District walks. Likewise, always make sure to have good navigational skills and plan your own route according to your skills and ability. After all, nothing kills romance like a route that proves too challenging or along which you get lost on the way to the pub.
Romantic walks in the Peak District
- Winnats Pass
- Lovers’ Leap, Dovedale
- Surprise View
- Lovers’ Walk and Giddy Edge
- Love Lock Bridge, Bakewell
- Stanage Edge
1. Winnats Pass
Start/finish: Castleton bus station | Maps: OS Explorer OL1 – The Peak District, Dark Peak (1:25k scale) | Distance: 5.7 miles/9.2km | Ascent: 1025ft/312m | Duration: 3 to 4 hours | Transport: Hulleys of Baslow bus services 271 and 272 run to Castleton from Sheffield
You’ll likely find Winnats Pass on plenty of lists of walks in the Peak District. Indeed, you and your partner should be prepared to share the spot with others, especially on the weekends and at prime times such as sunrise and sunset. This unique limestone gorge is deserving of its popularity, however, thanks to its natural framing of the road leading down into Castleton, the views over to Win Hill, and the formation’s aptitude to capture temperature inversions.
But Winnats Pass makes this list of romantic walks in the Peak District for its history. Locals have long told the tale of a couple, usually dubbed “Allan and Clara”, whose love was not accepted by their families and so planned to run away together. They met here, above the town of Castleton to make their escape, only to be robbed and murdered by two local lead miners, so the many variations of the legend generally go.
Not exactly the happy ending you might be looking for, but the scenic spot is still the site of many an elopement today. A walk starting and finishing in Castleton gives you plenty of pub and cafe options to get a bite to eat and also takes in the pretty Peveril Castle, the 11th-century ruin perched atop Cave Dale, as you head down from the hills. This route is extended to also include Mam Tor but could be made longer by walking the length of The Great Ridge.
2. Lovers’ Leap, Dovedale
Start/finish: Dovedale car park | Maps: OS Explorer OL27 – The Peak District, White Peak (1:25k scale) | Distance: 6.1 miles/9.8km | Ascent: 375ft/114m | Duration: 3 to 4 hours | Transport: None to start
Often thought of as a great beginners’ walk or family walk in the Peak District, for its ample caves, easy riverside strolls, Dovedale Stepping Stones, and chance to scamper up Thorpe Cloud for a quick view, Dovedale has become a popular haunt for many visitors to the area. But, it makes this list for a historical tale of powerful love.
During the Napoleonic Wars, a woman believed her sweetheart to have fallen in battle and, stricken with grief, tried to take her own life here. Her billowing underskirts, so the story goes, got caught in the tree branches, stopped her fall, and saved her life. Upon her return home, she found out her lover was, in fact, not dead and was safely on his way back from war. So, in this tale, it’s nature (not love) that saves the day! A similar story is told about the Lovers’ Leap in Stoney Middleton, though the Dovedale scenery is superior for a gentle walk.
3. Surprise View from Grindleford
Start/finish: Grindleford train station | Maps: OS Explorer OL1 – The Peak District, Dark Peak (1:25k scale) | Distance: 3.4 miles/5.5km | Ascent: 625ft/190m | Duration: 2 hours | Transport: Northern train services run hourly between Manchester and Sheffield, stopping at Grindleford
Aside from looking slightly like a wonky heart, which screams romance, this route from Grindleford meaders through the leafy woodland of Padley Gorge – plenty of spots to cool off on a hot day – before ascending to Owler Tor. This rocky outcrop is a sleepier alternative to the busy Higger Tor where you can sit and enjoy some peace and quiet.
The real gem, however, on this walk is Suprise View. yes, during the day it just looks like a car park, albeit one with particularly lovely panoramic views. But, arrive at night, and you’ll find yourself in one of the three designated Dark Sky areas of the Peak. The national park authority change the astronomy interpretation panels seasonally and they’ll guide you in exploring the night skies.
After all, nothing says romance like stargazing and this is probably the next best thing to sleeping under the stars in a bivvy bag.
4. Lover’s Walk and Giddy Edge, Matlock
Start/finish: Matlock Bath train station | Maps: OS Explorer OL27 – The Peak District, White Peak (1:25k scale) | Distance: 2.6 miles/4.2km | Ascent: 475ft/145m | Duration: 2 hours | Transport: East Midlands Railway services run hourly from Derby to Matlock Bath
This walk is the epitome of short but sweet – and just a little bit adrenaline-fuelled. From Matlock Bath train station, you can head south to amble the aptly-named Lovers’ Walk through woodland meandering along the River Derwent. This portion is a very accessible, easy stroll with opportunities to duck into cafes across the road on the other side of the river.
So, you’ll probably need something to get your heart racing – if the company hasn’t already. For this, look north from the station to High Tor and return via Giddy Edge. It may not be the exposed knife-edge ridgelines you’re used to in the mountains but it’s quite well-known as one of the Midland’s ‘scariest’ walks. The slight elevation also offers lovely views down into the pass.
5. The Love Lock Bridge, Bakewell
Start/finish: Bakewell square bus stop | Maps: OS Explorer OL27 – The Peak District, White Peak (1:25k scale) | Distance: 12.3 miles/19.8km | Ascent: 950ft/290m | Duration: 6 to 7 hours | Transport: The Trans-Peak (TP) service connects Derby and Buxton stopping in Bakewell roughly hourly
Starting from the Love Lock Bridge at Bakewell, this is a long route taking in some quieter hillwalking in the Peak. While you can head east to Chatsworth, it does get very crowded. If less-manicured White Peak landscapes are your idea of romance, instead head southwest to Lathkill Dale and then north to the quaint village of Ashford in the Water. Much of this walk, albeit longer in mileage than most others on this list, is a riverside ramble with little elevation making for a perfect long summer’s day.
For the book lovers among you, it is generally believed that Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice was partly written in Bakewell, where this walk starts and ends. At the time of writing, the local council is in talks to remove the love locks on the bridge over the River Wye.
6. Stanage Edge
Start/finish: Hathersage train station | Maps: OS Explorer OL1 – The Peak District, Dark Peak (1:25k scale) | Distance: 8.8 miles/14km | Ascent: 1,250ft/381m | Duration: 5 to 6 hours | Transport: Northern train services run hourly between Manchester and Sheffield, stopping at Hathersage
Speaking of Pride and Prejudice, why not recreate a picture-perfect movie moment a la Elizabeth Bennett (played by Keira Knightley in the 2005 film adaptation)? Here, on the gritstone edge amid the heather, the fictional romantic is portrayed dreaming of Mr. Darcy. For those who don’t love literature and anti-heroes with a penchant for gaslighting, the sweeping vistas should provide ample entertainment and whimsy, with big skies and views over the Hope Valley as far as Mam Tor.
There is plenty of lay-by parking under Stanage Edge for a short walk and you could approach from Redmires reservoir in the northeast, but this route sees you ascend from Hathersage. Incidentally, the Peak town and its surroundings inspired Charlotte Brontë in her writing of Jane Eyre, the most notable example of which is North Lees Hall (also included in this route) which provided the model for Mr. Rochester’s Thornfield Hall.
Nothing says romance like leaving no trace, so please be respectful of the Peak and those who call it home on your rambles.
READ MORE: 9 ‘hidden gems’ in the Peak District