Peak Park

Mam_TorAs spring seems to have finally arrived, I’m in an outdoorsy mood, so today we’re celebrating the Peak District, which became the United Kingdom’s first national park on 17 April 1951.

The massive park covers 555 square miles of Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, and South and West Yorkshire and attracts an estimated 22 million visitors per year, making it the second most visited national park in the world (after Mount Fuji National Park in Japan). Visitors can enjoy moorland, woodland, rivers, and, yes, peaks.

Historically, the area’s been inhabited since at least the Mesolithic period. The Romans weren’t so keen on it, but they did have a few settlements and mined lead in the area. Agriculture was the main industry throughout the medieval and early modern times, but lead, coal, flourite, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, and silver have all been mined as well. There was also a pretty significant wool weaving trade in the area.

During the Victorian period, the area started to become popular with tourists, thanks to railways and Romanticism. The town of Buxton became a fashionable spa along the lines of Bath.

After becoming the first national park, the Peak District also opened the first long-distance footpath, the Pennine Way, in 1965. Aside from hiking, visitors can ride horses or bikes on the bridlepaths, explore natural caves, try water sports at some of the reservoirs, or catch a bit of rock climbing.

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