As highlighted by today’s Google Doodle, this year marks the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District becoming Britain’s first designated national park.
Lying mainly in northern Derbyshire, the Peak District is one of the most picturesque locations in the British Isles and also graces small parts of Cheshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire, covering a total of 555 square miles.
The Peak District becoming the sustained beauty it is today is the result of the 1949 National Parks Act aimed to preserve and enhance such areas, with areas such as the Lake District, Dartmoor, Yorkshire Dales and Brecon Beacons all subsequently becoming national parks.
Advantages of the Peak District becoming a national park are many, but one of the finest is undoubtedly the availability of its many magnificent roads. There is an overabundance of fantastic routes through this particular national park, but we’re going to stick to our favourite three, and here they are:
Cat ‘n’ Fiddle – Buxton to Macclesfield
In the days when I used to live out in Macclesfield, I was a mere 10 minute drive away from one of the most challenging and rewarding driving roads in the Peaks and there were many Sunday morning drives on this amazing road.
Given the title Cat ‘n’ Fiddle after the popular biker pub on-route, you can attack the road from two different entry points; my advice would be to start from the Buxton end where you have to endure a couple of miles’ of average speed cameras (groan), but after they disappear, the roads open up into some of the most glorious corners imaginable.
The road gradually rises above the reservoirs below until in turns into one of the windiest pieces of tarmac you’ve ever had the pleasure of driving on. There are hairpins galore, as well as the odd fast corner, and is a certainly a route reserved for the more experienced driver.
Snake Pass – Sheffield to Glossop
Another route named after a pub, Snake Pass is an a-road alternative to the motorway between Sheffield and Manchester. The best part of the road stretches around 20 miles and goes from the outskirts of Sheffield and into Glossop.
Snake Pass is a much faster route than the Car ‘n’ Fiddle thanks to its more open corners, but that doesn’t mean it loses the fun factor; in fact, as a result, the road is a great place for drivers of all talents.
However, just like the adjacent Woodhead Pass, it is much advised to stay off Snake Pass in the winter months as it can become quite treacherous. Also look out for loose sheep and bicycles.
Mam Tor – Edale to Hope
OK, so this road probably isn’t called Mam Tor (Mother Hill), but the route begins at the foot of one of the Peak District’s most popular viewpoints before forming a sort of obscure horseshoe round to the other side.
The initial section to this route is the narrow, windy road down into Edale and can feel quite steep at times, but really gets the juices flowing. It’s best to drive this route at its quieter times as both lorries and buses do populate the road every so often and sheep also inhabit the surrounding fields, so keep an eye out.
Coming round to the east, the road flattens and gets faster thanks to the corners opening up, before it comes back towards the main road and the village of Hope. Not only is the road very enjoyable, but it also offers some stunning scenery, especially on the way down into Edale when surveying the valley below then looking at Mam Tor on the way back up. A stop afterwards at the Blue John Mines is also recommended.