What are the best routes for a scenic drive through the Peak District?

Have you ever considered taking a scenic drive through England's beautiful countryside? Imagine the wind blowing through your hair, the sight of rolling hills and ancients peaks capturing your gaze, and the thrill of navigating snake-like roads that stretch out into the distance. If this sounds appealing to you, then the Peak District National Park is the perfect destination. This article will detail some of the best routes for scenic driving in this stunning location, providing you with the ultimate guide for your next driving adventure.

The Snake Pass: A Thrilling High Road Adventure

The Snake Pass is one of the most famous roads in the Peak District for a reason. This winding road snakes its way through the national park, providing drivers with breathtaking views and thrilling driving experiences.

Situated between Sheffield and Manchester, the Snake Pass is named after the pub that sits at its highest point. This road takes you on a journey through some of the best scenery that the Peak District has to offer. You'll find yourself navigating your car through sweeping curves and steep inclines, all while surrounded by beautiful moorland and picturesque views.

It's not just the drive that makes the Snake Pass worth a visit. The road also offers access to several popular walking routes, such as the Pennine Way and the Kinder Scout, where you can park your car and explore the beautiful countryside on foot.

The Cat and Fiddle Road: The Peak District's Highest Road

If you're searching for a high altitude driving experience, look no further than the Cat and Fiddle Road. Known as the highest road in the Peak District, this route offers stunning panoramic views that stretch across the national park.

This road takes its name from the Cat and Fiddle Inn, one of the highest pubs in England. As you drive along this route, you'll find yourself ascending to heights of over 500 meters, providing unparalleled views of the surrounding countryside.

The Cat and Fiddle Road runs from Macclesfield to Buxton, and its high altitude and sharp bends make it a thrilling drive for any car enthusiast. The route is also popular with cyclists and walkers, who are drawn to its stunning views and challenging terrain.

The Winnats Pass: A Majestic Limestone Valley

The Winnats Pass is a route that truly showcases the unique geology of the Peak District. This road passes through a stunning limestone valley, providing you with a driving experience like no other.

As you navigate your car through the narrow road, you'll be surrounded by towering limestone cliffs on either side. This scenery is truly awe-inspiring, and the road's twists and turns make for an exciting drive.

The Winnats Pass is located near the village of Castleton, known for its beautiful caves and historic Peveril Castle. Why not park your car and spend some time exploring this charming village after your drive?

The Woodhead Pass: A Scenic Route from Manchester to Sheffield

The Woodhead Pass, also known as the A628, provides a scenic route from Manchester to Sheffield. As you drive along this route, you'll be treated to some of the most beautiful scenery in the Peak District.

This road runs through the northern part of the national park, with the stunning Woodhead Reservoir on one side and the wild moorland of the Dark Peak on the other. You'll be able to enjoy incredible views as you navigate your car along this route, making it a must-visit for any scenic drive enthusiast.

The Woodhead Pass also offers plenty of opportunities to stop and explore. You can park your car and take a walk around the Woodhead Reservoir, or visit the nearby village of Dunford Bridge for a taste of local culture.

The A537 from Buxton to Macclesfield: The Gateway to the Peak District

Last but not least, the A537 route from Buxton to Macclesfield is often considered as the gateway to the Peak District. This road offers a scenic drive through the heart of the national park, with stunning views and plenty of places to stop and explore.

As you drive along this route, you'll pass through the charming town of Buxton, known for its Georgian architecture and beautiful gardens. You'll then continue on through the Peak District, with its rolling hills and picturesque villages providing a beautiful backdrop for your drive.

The A537 is also home to the famous Chestnut Centre, a conservation park where you can get up close and personal with otters, owls, and even a herd of fallow deer. This makes it a perfect route for a family trip, providing both a scenic drive and a fun day out for all.

The Monsal Trail: An Exquisite Leisurely Drive

The Monsal Trail is yet another fantastic route if you're on a road trip through the Peak District National Park. This leisurely drive offers you an experience that is both comfortable and scenic.

Starting at Bakewell, the trail winds through some of the most picturesque parts of the Peak District, including the breathtaking Monsal Head and the serene Wye Valley. This former railway line now converted into a trail gives you delightful glimpses of the River Wye, apart from the charming dales and hills that are characteristic of this region.

Driving on the Monsal Trail is akin to journeying through a storybook landscape, with stone bridges, viaducts, tunnels, and historic mills making regular appearances. The trail ends at Topley Pike Junction in Wye Dale, leaving you with a sense of peaceful satisfaction. Here, you will find plenty of picnic spots and tea rooms where you can relax and soak in the beauty of nature that surrounds you.

The Monsal Trail is indeed a drive that lets you appreciate the calmer, more serene side of the Peak District.

The Chatsworth Estate Drive: An Opulent and Historical Drive

The Chatsworth Estate Drive is an opulent route that allows you to immerse yourself in history and culture while enjoying the scenic beauty of the Peak District. The estate, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family.

As you drive through the estate, you get to witness the grandeur of the Chatsworth House, one of England’s most magnificent stately homes. The house is set in expansive parkland, with an impressive collection of art, furniture, and sculptures adding to its elegance.

The drive also offers stunning views of the Derwent Valley and areas of outstanding natural beauty within the Peak District National Park. The road trails through a mix of dense woodlands, manicured gardens, and open farmland, making it a diverse and interesting drive.

The Chatsworth Estate Drive is also known for its annual events like the Chatsworth Horse Trials and the Chatsworth Country Fair. So, if you are planning your visit around these events, you're in for an incredible experience.


The Peak District National Park is indeed a treasure trove of scenic drives waiting to be explored. Be it the adrenaline-inducing Snake Pass, the high altitude adventure of the Cat and Fiddle Road, the geologically fascinating Winnats Pass, the serene Monsal Trail, or the historic Chatsworth Estate Drive, each route has its unique charm and beauty.

Whether you are an ardent motorist, a nature enthusiast, or someone who loves to explore local culture and history, these routes offer something for everyone. So, prepare your playlist, pack some snacks, and embark on a road trip that promises to leave you with memories that you will cherish for a lifetime. After all, the joy of scenic driving is not just about the destination but also the journey that leads you there.