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Getting around in the Peak District

We are planning to be in England for September. One of our "must see" is Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth House. Will take the train up from London to Chesterfield or Sheffield but the dilemma is getting to the aforementioned sites and generally around the area. My wife absolutely insists that we can NOT rent a car and let me drive on the "wrong side of the road." Too paranoid. So I have, so far, relented on that struggle (but maybe not totally given up). Is there Uber type service in that region? Does any one know of a car/driver for hire there? I have reviewed the local mini van tours but none seem suitable for what we want to do there which is visiting those two places and freelancing a bit in the peak district.

Posted by
2559 posts

Both Hardwick Hall's and Chatsworth's websites give directions for visiting by public transport - buses and taxis from Chesterfield. If you want to explore the Peak District at your own pace it's best to have a car. Get to work on the missus (which as we all know will be harder than the actual driving).

Posted by
4158 posts

Sorry to hear about your dilemma , no easy answer . I would only add that while driving in the UK has some issues that need to be confronted , it is not the " DRIVE ON THE LEFT ??? YOU MUST BE CRAZY !! " that many people espouse . Outside major cities ( London , of course , immediately comes to mind ) it is eminently doable , and an area like The Peak is a pure joy with a car . There are hotels in the area , in the surrounding countryside , and getting around with a car would give you much greater flexibility and the ability to optimize your time . We spent time in The Peak on our trip in 2014 , and while our main focus was Chatsworth , the little villages in the area were great fun . We particularly liked Matlock Bath . I am a big advocate of travel by rail , but England , Wales and Scotland , cry out for a car , and while you might have some white knuckle moments , it is like anything else , you learn and become accustomed to driving there rather quickly . A favorite documentary about Chatsworth ( do not miss St Peters church in Edensor while you are there ) -

Posted by
1469 posts

September is the best time to travel. It may still be warm and the gardens are still blooming. We have done two driving trips in the UK throughout England, Scotland and Wales. My husband now loves driving there; especially since you do not have to stop but can carefully merge when you come to roundabouts ( watching to see if another car has the right of way, of course). The roads are good. You get used to being on the left pretty quickly as you are following the other people. Keep your wife busy by having her do the route planning. You can may get a navigator in your rental which will offer the most direct routes. You can have an App on a smart phone. You may want to plan ahead with an AA Map. There is also a map book available with one inch equals a square inch which is excellent for finding your farm B & B. The Peak District is awesome. There is one scenic drive that you can get to near Derby that will take you to Chartsworth that goes thru a wonderfull canyon with villages clinging to the sides. You won't be sorry if you have you own opens up so many opportunities.

Posted by
205 posts

especially since you do not have to stop when you come to roundabouts.


Let's be clear, you do have to stop when approaching a roundabout if there is a car in the roundabout which you would crash into and is expecting you to stop.

Posted by
7906 posts

Driving on the left for North Americans is an adjustment, but frankly an easy one.

As long as you don't rush yourself and drive aggressively, it can easily be done. This is especially true in the countryside where traffic is light.

Just rent an automatic and have a navigation system.

I drove for three days in 2013 and even the roundabouts weren't bad.

Posted by
1302 posts

The Derbyshire Wayfarer ticket will be off interest to you.
Covers all trains and buses in Derbyshire for the day as well as the links to Sheffield.
Its about £12 for a day adults, £6.30 for over 60s
There pretty decent bus services in the national Park, and trains run along the Hope valley line about every hour.

The canyon place mentioned above is very likely Matlock Bath.
For whats its worth, my folks live in the High Peak for 30 years and and the roads are reasonably lightly used a million times easy than city driving.

Posted by
23 posts

Hi, being from the area I thought I would drop in my two cents. I wouldn't recommend going to Sheffield to come back to Derbyshire to get to Chatsworth and Hardwick Hall, and I wouldn't recommend Chesterfield either (unless of course you are interested in seeing the crooked spire, not much else of interest here). Your best bet would be Derby over Chesterfield, Derby is a city with excellent public transport links. The buses often go around the Peak District, with many stops on the way. It's especially close to Matlock Bath, again accessible by bus.

As people have suggested, renting a car would be the best way to see the Peak District, but again, the public transport is excellent. If you are nervous about driving on the 'wrong' side of the road, I wouldn't suggest it, the countryside isn't as 'sleepy' as you would imagine, and if you are planning on going anywhere like Matlock Bath you will be on a busy A road.

There's lots of other little places dotted around Derby too, such as Bakewell, Wirksworth, Cromford, Eyam etc etc. I honestly think Derby as your base would be more beneficial for you. Derby also has many sites to consider visiting too, such as the railway museum (if of interest) and the museum which houses a lot of art and Mummies from the Egyptian period.

If you want any help with particular bus/train routes out of Derby to the surrounding areas, I'm happy to help! I've lived here most whole life!

Posted by
278 posts

We visited those two places and others in the Peak District in July 2015. My husband drove and it was really fun. the traffic circles were something we came to love. Its totally doable and the traffic circles make it much easier. The only thing I didn't like were the high numbers of trucks on the freeway's driving north from Heathrow to Sheffield. There was a tendency on day one to stear to the right a bit but it was gone by day 2. Husband did the driving after he had been in the UK a few days on business.
I recommend you rent a car. Don't stay in Dronefield. Do visit Bakewell and have Bakewell Pudding. We also enjoyed a long bike ride using rented bikes along an old railway path with a few tunnels. The walk to the rental place takes you past a beautiful crystal clear stream where I really enjoyed watching the fish and scenery. The ride was a high point, so relaxing nd easy to do with great views.

ps, the derbyshire link contains bus info and planning info which I wanted to point out:

By bus: The Trans Peak bus operates an hourly service to and from Derby, Nottingham, Matlock and Buxton, with a two hourly service to Manchester. The 6.1 service also runs hourly from Derby and Matlock. The 170 service runs hourly to and from Chesterfield, and the 240 and 218 operates to and from Sheffield. Bus times can be found in the Peak District Bus Timetable, published in March and October. It is available from any Tourist Information Centre in the area or you can order the Peak District bus timetable online.. Alternatively, you can use the East Midlands online journey planner or view an interactive map of Peak District bus routes.