To a Londoner, the Peak District can seem logisitically and geographically far away. Probably the most straightforward way to get there is to take a train to Stockport, and then change onto to Cross-Country train that runs through Chapel-en-le-Frith, the self-proclaimed ‘Capital of the Peak District,’ to the spa town of Buxton. This route is rather expensive (even if booked in advance, a return ticket from London Euston to anywhere along the line to Buxton is upwards of £70), and doesn’t get very scenic until the end. Another clever option is to take the train from Euston only as far as Macclesfield, and change there unto a bus along the “Cat & Fiddle” road. This option is more scenic, but not significantly cheaper.
But as is so often the case, my friends, there is a third way:
First, we go to Megabus’ website. “I’ll not take a bloody coach all the way up to the Peak District!!” you protest. You’re quite right, you shan’t. As it turns out, many “Megabus” routes are actually served by trains, but the tickets still only cost Megabus prices. The London-Derby-Sheffield route is like this. So if you plan it right, you could easily get a single train ticket from London St. Pancras to Derby for under £10.
Now, presumably you haven’t come to see Derby (if you have, thank you for reading and enjoy your trip. Cheerio!). So, upon arriving in Derby, make your way over to the Bus station. It’s a short walk from the train station, but if the weather is bad (as it was when we arrived) there is a cheap and frequent shuttle bus which takes you from the train to the bus station in 4 minutes, max!
Now, it is time for the final leg of the journey. Board the TransPeak bus. The TransPeak departs at least hourly for most of the day, and, depending on how far you’re going, costs only a few quid. As the name suggests, it goes all the way across the Peak District (indeed, it goes from Derby to Manchester), so chances are it stops near whatever town you might choose to stay in (we stayed in Buxton)
As you can see, this journey is shaping up to be much cheaper than the straightforward train-only journey. And the ride on the TransPeak is much more scenic. But a word of warning: it is scenic precisely because you are climbing up into the hills along winding roads. If there are not too many elderly or disabled people who need to be sitting near the front of the bus, you should try to do so yourself.
1. If you have a smartphone or tablet, download the OpenMaps app. Many of the trails in the Peak District are not particularly easy to find; we were lucky enough on one of the days we were there to be with a local CouchSurfer who showed us the way that we never would have found ourselves. On the other days, OpenMaps was a lifesaver. Google Maps and Apple maps are worthless, as they don’t show you any trails.
2. The TransPeak bus is also quite nice for getting you to trailheads within the Peaks. That being said, because it operates over such a long stretch of road, many little delays can accumulate, and make the buses very late by the middle or end of the route. We were made to wait over 40 minutes for our bus at Taddington Wood after we’d finished a rather long walk.
3. Watch out for cow-pies! As many of the trails pass through grazing land, you may very well wander past some cows, and you will almost certainly come upon their excretions. Enjoy the scenery, but don’t forget to look down every now and again!