Exploring the Peak District and Derbyshireby bus

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The Peak District was Britain’s first National Park, created in 1951. It’s a mix of craggy gritstone edges, chalky dales, wooded hills and flowering green fields, speckled with scone-tastic stately homes and varied visitor attractions. With great public transport connections to Derby and Sheffield, Nottingham and Manchester, much of this beautiful area is just an easy bus ride away. Here are some of the buses that roll through the Peaks and South Derbyshire, giving access to verdant countryside, picturesque villages and vibrant market towns.

  • County: by bus
  • Great for: countryside | food and drink | historic houses | National Park | villages |
  • Refreshments: lots of great cafes, restaurants and pubs.
  • Please note: researched/updated in June 2024. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. 4. Transpeak (Derby to Buxton)

    The Transpeak bus – as its name suggests – gives visitors the chance to cross the Peak District from Derby to Buxton, taking in all kinds of lovely sights along the way. The whole journey takes two hours with days’ worth of things to stop off for, passing through lovely towns and villages like Cromford, Bakewell and Ashford in the Water (see 1 and 3 above). Here are some more highlights of the route:

    • Stop off for a wander round the Great British Car Journey. Just because you arrive car-free doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this interactive journey through the best of British motors: Austin Sevens, Morris Minors, minis, jaguars, Ford Cortinas. Anyone who had a car in the last century or so might feel a bit nostalgic here. But the White Peak Distillery next door will make you glad you’re not driving (see below). They are both right next to Oak Hurst bus stop in Ambergate.
    • Have a drink at the White Peak Distillery, makers of Derbyshire’s first whisky and a lot more besides. There’s a free hot drink for people arriving by bus, train or bike to find out more about making whisky, gin and rum on one of the distillery tours – and maybe have some tasters too!
    • And don’t miss Haddon Hall, just before the bus gets to Bakewell. This rambling medieval and Tudor manor house with fabulous flowering gardens, deep in the heart of the Peak District, is right next to the bus stop and gives car-free visitors 20% off entry when they come by bus.
    • Eat at the restaurant in the old stone stable block at Haddon Hall, which serves freshly-cooked food from breakfast to tea time when the hall is open in an atmospheric rural setting.
  1. 5. Trentbarton Sixes (Derby to Bakewell)

    A cheerful orange group of buses known collectively as the sixes also runs along the Derwent Valley from Derby bus station. The 6.1 goes as far as Bakewell via Wirksworth, Cromford and Matlock. Buses 6.2 and 6.3 run to Ripley. Between them, there are buses to Belper every fifteen minutes. Here are some of the things you can get to on the sixes.

    • The route passes close to Derby’s Museum of Making, which re-opened in 2023 to celebrate the area’s manufacturing heritage.
    • Soon after, the buses pass close to Darley Park. Getting off at the Mileash Lane bus stop and you can stroll down the lane to the park with walks along the River Derwent, the Darley Abbey Park tea room, and the flamboyant summer Hydrangea Derby.
    • From Wirksworth, the Little Sixes bus runs to Matlock and stops just outside the National Stone Centre. It’s a 40-acre Site of Special Scientific Interest in a series of former limestone quarries. There are trails that focus on fossils, ecology, sculptures or industrial heritage.
    • The High Peak Trail runs nearby, a traffic-free route for walkers and cyclists on the route of a former railway. You can explore the quarries and High Peak trail on this scenic circuit from the St John’s Street bus stop in Wirksworth. The bus also is perfect for linear walks like sections of the long-distance Derwent Valley Heritage Way.
    • Bus 6.1 also stops round the corner from the National Stone Centre at Malthouse Close and goes on past the same brilliant Derwent Valley attractions as bus X17. Hop off at Cromford’s Market Place to visit historic Cromford Mills or at Matlock’s Fishpond Hotel to visit the family theme park at Gulliver’s World or at Cable Car for the Heights of Abraham.
    • The bus winds on beside the River Derwent, which runs along a wooded valley below the road, taking a similar route to the Transpeak (see 4 above) to end with a choice of refreshments in Bakewell.
  1. 6. Day trips from Derby

    When the Peak District and Derwent Valley are packed with summer visitors, why not explore South Derbyshire and visit some less crowded attractions? Besides towns like Wirksworth, there are stately homes such as Kedleston Hall just outside Derby and the Children’s Country House in the pretty warm-brick village of Sudbury. And, in Derbyshire’s southernmost tip, there are wooded acres of the fascinating National Forest.

    • Kedleston Hall: Leaving every couple of hours (Monday to Saturday) from outside Derby’s railway station, bus 114 makes its way cross-country to lovely Kedleston Hall. Get off at the stop called The Smithy (the driver can help you find the right place) and stroll down Mercaston Lane to find the car exit on your left. It’s then a lovely walk towards the hall with views of the Palladian bridge and long lake. With miles of paths through birdsong-filled woods and landscaped parkland, it’s a great place to stroll in the green and, designed by the architect Robert Adam, the opulent house is full of intriguing history. Tell the ticket office you arrived by bus to get a voucher for a free hot drink in the café.
    • Children’s Country House in Sudbury: If you’re travelling with kids or want a change from Derbyshire’s classic country houses, head to picturesque Sudbury and the Children’s Museum. Follow Good Journey’s directions and catch bus 401. Hop off at the Vernon Arms to walk through the beautiful brick cottages of Sudbury, a peaceful former estate village. At the hall itself, you will find the café is an enchanted forest (with a free hot drink for coming by bus), the ballroom has a disco ball, and there’s giant connect four in the garden. The museum has thematic displays about children’s lives through the centuries and a dalek that was used in filming Doctor Who.
    • National Forest: Centuries of mining for coal and other minerals left huge scars across the Midlands. The National Forest, one of the UK’s most ambitious environmental projects, has transformed a post-Industrial landscape into a thriving patchwork of woods, lakes and marshes. Catch bus 2 from Derby bus station to Swadlincote, in the heart of the National Forest and you can see orchids growing in old clay pits and waterbirds swimming on former opencast mines. Besides the wealth of wildlife, there’s a Pottery Museum and other interesting remnants of the area’s industrial heritage. Bus 19 from Swadlincote bus station takes you further into the acres of the forest with its hundreds of miles of footpaths.
    • Exploring Derbyshire and the Peak District by bus and on foot will help preserve these beautiful landscapes for the future.Travelling by bus in Derbyshire is a fantastic way to get around, it’s easy, affordable, and a great way to sit back and enjoy the ride without the hassle of driving. Visit the new website to plan your journey, find the best ticket, and discover how Travel Derbyshire is making local transport better.