Gentle trails in special places – that’s more or less what I’m looking for at the moment. They might not be the biggest or the wildest, but these Peak District trails are all memorable in their own special way and keep me blissfully in touch with off-road running while I’m a) looking after a toddler and b) pregnant with a second. None need trail shoes, as they’re on a mix of smooth paths and minor roads, although they do demand a pushchair that’s up to the job – and perhaps a piece of cake or two at the end!
Chatsworth Estate buggy run
3.5 milesAttraction-packed and with a hill to be proud of
The Peak’s best-known estate is criss-crossed with service roads, and you’re allowed to walk on most of them. This route is the best choice for running, in my mind! It climbs through the woods behind the house up to the hilltop reservoirs that feed the famous fountain in the gardens 300ft or so below, and you could well have it to yourself even on a busy weekend. It’s packed with attractions for little ones, too – the lakes, the dell, the waterfall, the hunting tower and of course the farmyard and adventure playground at the house (entry fee). The surface is tarmac or excellent gravel roads throughout. Park at the main car park and take a map, as the road junctions can be confusing, following signs marked ‘SL’ until you get to a private road, where you should turn left to the lake instead.Download a PDF map of Chatsworth pushchair run
Manifold Valley buggy loop
7 milesA friendly taste of a forgotten place
The pretty Manifold Valley often gets overlooked in favour of its more photogenic neighbour, Dovedale, and it’s often so quiet I get a little shiver of the spooks. Its limestone sides are pocked with caves and mine workings, and the railway line has long since been turned into a surfaced, riverside path that’s great for us pram pushers. The other reason I love this run is the former station-turned-cafe at Hulme End! Be warned this loop doesn’t just follow the Manifold way – there’s also a section of farm track that can get muddy, and an on-road section of about a mile, including a tunnel, where you might encounter the odd fast car. Some high-vis might be wise, or you can always avoid this by doing an out-and-back run.
Park at the Hulme End cafe. From there, run south down the Manifold Way until the second road crossing. Here the Manifold Way turns left and crosses the river – ignore it and continue carefully on-road through the tunnel and on to Wetton Mill (signposted). Cross the river towards the mill (grabbing an ice cream if you need it!) and follow the farm track back towards Hulme End, rejoining the Manifold Way at the road near the tunnel.Download more about the Manifold
10 milesThe Dark Peak proper… with a pram!
There aren’t that many places where you can take a pushchair into the high heather moorlands, though please get in touch if I’m wrong!! The Upper Derwent reservoirs – Ladybower, Derwent and Howden – are an exception. Here you can do a serious, tough loop around the northernmost reservoirs on a mix of surfaces, if your child is game! Pick up a leaflet from Fairholmes Visitor Centre and head north along the old road, until you pick up a path through the woods that takes you to the Slippery Stones – a perfect picnic spot. Here you cross the river and turn south again on the other side of the reservoir, following somewhat coarse paths. Or you could always go back the same way. A softer option (if running with a pram is ever ‘soft’!) is the six-mile Ladybower loop to the south.
Download a PDF map of the Derwent reservoir runs
And the runners upThese deserve a special mention – they’re just not quite as special, I don’t think…
Have I missed one?
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