Visiting the Peak District?

The Peak District is an ancient landscape with some of the wildest and most beautiful views, heritage sites and wildlife habitats of Britain.  It was Britain's first national park and I led the organisation which looks after the Peak District for 11 years. 

Today I know the Peak District well and write about it, in the Times, on my Blog and in magazines.  I can talk to your group or lead walks in my favourite places.  Different places make great walks at different times of the year

January is a fantastic time to walk the many riverside dales where the first calling dippers, a sleek bird that nests very early, can be heard singing and the brown trout are spawning.  The dales such as Lathkill, Bradford, Dovedale, Wye and Monsal make wonderful walks all year round too. 

February is a great month to explore our industrial and built heritage from our wonderful neolithic and iron age stone circles to the oldest industrial buildings in the world at the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.  

March is when the first breeding waders in the uplands return, with lapwing and curlew returning to the hill farms and the moors.  Bright sunny days are great for spotting birds of prey such as sparrowhawk, goshawk and buzzard. 

April is when our landscape fills with the song of willow warblers, chiffchaffs and the swallows and martins return.  It's a great time for riverside walks, to see sandpipers and dippers and also our woodlands as they burst into life woodlands. 

May is when the Peak District is at its most glorious, with the breeding golden plover and dunlin calling on the moors, the chance of seeing merlin and hen harrier and in the dales the hedgerows are washed white with May Blossom and in the meadows dales are filling with hay rattle and early purple orchid, 

June still retains the feel of spring here at over 1000 feet above sea level when the lowland landscape has moved into high summer.  We can here cuckoos, roding woodcock, and the moorlands are home to hobbies and merlins, the small falcons which are a joy to see.

July is a great time to experience the life of the community in the Peak District, with many well-dressings, festivals and 'wakes' events as well as the long summer evenings to explore the whole of this glorious landscape. This is a great time to visit Haddon Hall, to walk through the pasture and see the pedigree longhorns or to visit the most complete Medieval home in England and hear about its many film connections.  

August is a great time to visit the farmed landscape of the Peak District and there's the charm and excitement of the Bakewell Show and smaller local agricultura shows which stiill have an authentic feel about them.  Just tipping into September is the Chatsworth Country Fair, a highlight of the Chatsworth season.  

September is when the Peak District begins to experience the 'second spring' and is a wonderful time to fish on our rivers, walk through the ash woods and to search out the rutting fallow deer at Chatsworth Park. This is a great time to be on the moors as the heather is at peak colour.  

October is when the landscape can be at its most dramatic, with early morning frosts which cool the air in these upland valleys leading to the spectacular 'temperature inversions' when the hills are bathed in glorious sunshine and the valleys are deep in the mists. 

November can be the best month for bright clear days when our air quality, the clarity of light and the welcome by the fireside in a village pub, combine to make walking here a rewarding experience.  The field patterns, geology and shape of ancient towns and villages is easier to see, allowing us to see the bones of the landscape and understand it that much better. 

December is the time of year when the villages and communities prepare for Christmas with distinctive local festivals and the great houses of Chatsworth and Haddon open their doors for a very special experience.  The landscape is as rewarding to explore as at any other time, with the shorter days leading to a much valued few hours where we can experience the land at its best.

I know the Peak District well and I can advise you on where to stay, where to eat and what to do.  I can also advise you on special activities, such as guided tours of Haddon Hall and Chatsworth and guided fishing, painting or photography led by people who are expert in their fields.  I'm an experienced speaker and can give you a variety of talks, on special interests of mine or the Peak District more generally.  

Please contact me here to learn about the landscape that I know and that I would love to introduce you to. 

The Roaches, picture by Chris Gilbert of Ravenseye Gallery, is one of my favourite walks, with lots of moorland wildlife, some great stories and panoramic views for miles. 

Staying in or near Winster?

Jim Dixon is one of Britain’s leading nature writers and writes monthly for The Times as one of the newspaper’s Nature Notebook contributors.  Jim lives in Winster and knows the landscapes around the village and in the surrounding area well. 

He can guide you or talk on the parklands at Chatsworth and Haddon Hall, the special landscapes of Stanton and Bonsall Moor and the ancient historic landscapes of Minninglow or the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site. 

Jim would be happy to speak to your group on the Peak District landscape, history and wildlife, lead a group walk or help you plan your itinerary whilst visiting the area.