Even the Peak District’s name conceals a mystery. Forget the obvious: a visitor expecting towering peaks will be disappointed, as the name comes from the Pecsaetan tribe who once lived here. But there’s a twist: the Anglo-Saxon means “settlers of the Pec”…and that word pec has the same root as our peak, the dialect pike and the Pyrenean pic. So, ultimately, the Peak District is named after its peaks, after all.
The Peak District is broadly defined by the conurbations at its corners: Manchester, Sheffield, Derby and Stoke. Within this rectangle, the National Park forms a rough oval of around 550 square miles.
The area is traditionally divided into the Dark Peak – peat moorland edged by gritstone, with rugged villages in the valleys — and the softer White Peak – upland pastures defined by drystone walls, divided by gorges and limestone villages. The eastern and western moors are similar to the Dark Peak, but have their own subtly distinctive characters.
The Peak District was occupied by humans long before the Pecsaetans and in each era man has left his mark, from prehistoric standing stones and rock art, through the folk legends, crosses and churches of the Middle Ages, to post-medieval follies and puzzling relics of the extraction of lime and lead.
The varied geology of the area throws up natural curiosities too: its dark gritstone has wind-sculpted tors and edges, while its gleaming limestone hides caves and subterranean rivers.
This handy pocket size book will take you on short circular walks to the ten most fascinating, odd or strange places in the Peak District. Prepare to be amazed and surprised.