4 of our favourite Peak District Waterfalls

Written by Shayle Follows

If you’re after visiting the most picturesque UK countryside, head to the Peak District! It is bursting with rugged peaks, wooded valleys and open moorland. Waterfalls are easy to find in the Peak District, and we recommend visiting as many as possible. We have selected 4 of our favourite Peak District Waterfalls to see.

Whether you are a budding photographer, a family looking for an adventure, or a hiker keen to enjoy a new route, the Peak District is a beautiful place to explore, with so many hidden treasures and many of the most incredible waterfalls in the UK. We have compiled a list of 4 of our favourite waterfalls in the Peak District and everything you need to know about them so you can easily plan your next hike.

Padley Gorge Waterfall, Peak District

You will find Padley Gorge is a deep, narrow valley between Grindleford Village and the A6187 road in the Peak District. It is one of our favourite spots in the Peak District; it’s a walker’s paradise and a popular spot for bird and wildlife watchers. The area is part of the Yarncliff Wood, Padley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Padley Gorge Waterfall in the Peak District
Padley Gorge Waterfall in the Peak District, image from Tripadvisor.

Formed along the rocks at Burbage Brook and its pretty waterfalls, the Padley Gorge waterfall is a small waterfall located on the Padley Gorge Trail. The trail is approximately three miles long and takes you through the Burbage Valley and towards the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate, where you can explore the woodlands and grab a refreshment at the on-site cafe.

Padley Gorge Waterfall
Formed along the rocks at Burbage Brook and its pretty waterfalls, the Padley Gorge waterfall is a small waterfall located on the Padley Gorge Trail.

Swimming at Padley Gorge

There is a grass area at the top of the gorge, which is a great spot to set up a picnic and let children paddle in the small pools. It’s not deep enough for a swim, but an excellent spot for children to wade in the water safely. It is also right next to the layby parking, which often has the ice cream van.

Padley Gorge walking route

There is a 9.5-km circular trail that begins near Stoney Middleton and is considered moderately challenging. It takes an average of 3 hours to complete. It’s a popular trail with hikers, bikers, dog walkers and runners. The waterfalls are great to see after heavy rain. However, it can become slippy after rain, so take caution and wear appropriate footwear. This route is unsuitable for pushchairs; however, it is close to the Longshaw Estate, with pram-friendly trails. You can follow the entire route here.

Pub near to Padley Gorge Waterfall in the Peak District.
We love The Fox House, a country pub with a lovely garden area to enjoy.

Parking for Padley Gorge

Here is a selection of places to park when visiting Padley Gorge;

  • Grindleford Station car park is at the bottom of the gorge and features a cafe and toilet at the station.
  • Longshaw Estate car park is excellent for a selection of walks, and parking is free for National Trust members. There is a cafe, toilet, picnic tables and a used bookshop here.
  • Surprise View car park is a great starting point for Padley Gorge and Owler Tor. There is often an ice cream van here.
  • Haywood car park is slightly further than the other car parks to the gorge. However, the woodland at the start of the Padley Gorge trail is beautiful. It’s free parking for National Trust members.

The above car parks are pay and display and are subject to change depending on the time of year. There is free parking at the long layby on top of the gorge, which is a great place to park for families; it’s next to Burbage Brook, a popular picnic and paddle spot. There is also an ice cream van here.

Pubs and restaurants near to Padley Gorge

There are plenty of places for refreshments near Padley Gorge. We love The Fox House, a country pub with a lovely garden area to enjoy. It is near Woodcroft car park in Longshaw; it’s dog friendly too. The Grouse Inn is another good choice; it’s a family-owned pub serving delicious homemade food. They are dog friendly and have a big terrace and patio with scenic views. Finally, the Maynard near Grindleford serves fresh, tasty food and afternoon tea in their lovely garden.

If you are after a cafe, Grindleford Station Cafe is excellent value for money and Longshaw Cafe has lots of outdoor seating and a fantastic view.

Lumsdale Falls in the Lumsdale Valley, Peak District

On the edge of the Peak District National Park just outside Matlock is Lumsdale Valley, a place bursting with history and natural beauty. Waterfalls tumble through the wooded Valley. The falls and Valley were used for industrial purposes from the 17th Century. It hit the height of production in the mid-19th Century. Mills were used for cotton spinning, bleaching, and grinding corn, bone, and minerals. The site was in production until the 1930s. As a result, the Lumsdale Valley is considered one of the best examples of a water-powered industrial archaeological site in Britain, unique in the extensive use of water power over such a small area.

Lumsdale Falls in the Lumsdale Valley
Lumsdale Falls in the Lumsdale Valley, image from Tripadvisor.

The ruins of the mills in the Lumsdale Valley remain today. They are all in various states of disrepair, and the last landowner kept them in their ruinous state to honour their heritage and keep them as a habitat for wildlife. The Arkwright Society owns the Lumsdale Valley, which maintains and manages the site. They allow public access to the area and safeguard important woodland and wetland habitats. You can learn more about each mill here.

Swimming in Lumsdale Valley Falls

Paddling, swimming and climbing are not allowed in the Valley and can damage the fragile mill ruins and the natural environment.

Mill Ruins Lumsdale Falls in the Lumsdale Valley, Peak District.
Lumsdale mill ruins, image from Tripadvisor.

Lumsdale Valley Falls walking route

This easy 2.5 km walk is a great way to immerse yourself in nature and see the falls. This route begins at Matlock Green and then follows the Bently Brook through woodland to Lumsdale falls. As you pass through the gorge, you’ll pass the historical mill ruins, waterwheels, and mill ponds. This walk is less busy than many other waterfalls in the Peak District, but we promise this adds to its natural charm! You can follow the entire route here.

Parking for Lumsdale Valley Falls

Parking near here can be tricky, but at Highfields School in Lumsdale, there is parking outside which is just a short walk to the valley footpath.

Pubs and restaurants near to Lumsdale Valley Falls

Close to the falls is The Duke of Wellington, a 19th-century country inn serving a classic pub menu. It has two beer gardens to enjoy in the summer and log fires inside in the Winter. Nearby Matlock is full of cafes, pubs, restaurants and plenty of parking.

The Waterfall Swallet, Peak District

The Waterfall Swallet is a hidden gem in the Peak District. Its name, the Waterfall Swallet, means a place where the water breaks in on miners’. It is located between the settlements of Foolow and Eyam and is easy to drive past because trees hide the waterfall. It’s a 25-minute drive from Buxton, 15 minutes from Bakewell and 40 minutes from Ashbourne.

The Waterfall Swallet, Peak District
The Waterfall Swallet, Peak District. Image of Tripadvisor.

You can access the bottom of the falls through the surrounding woodland. Be careful and wear appropriate footwear; consider taking walking poles. We suggest visiting after a few days of rain to get the best water flow. Please note that the Waterfall Swallet is privately owned. It is possible to get down to the bottom of it, although sometimes it is muddy and potentially dangerous, especially in Winter.

There is no parking near the waterfall, but parking is possible in the nearby village of Eyam.

Swimming at the Waterfall Swallet

We don’t recommend swimming or paddling at the Waterfall Swallet, the water is often full of debris, and the area is privately owned.

The Waterfall Swallet walking route

You can reach this waterfall just 10 minutes from the nearest parking area. But first, you need to know where to go as it is not signposted. This route takes you right up to the waterfall so that you can stand beneath it. Although this is a moderate route due to the terrain condition, the entire way is explained well here.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Barrel-Inn-near-to-the-Waterfall-Swallet-Peak-District.jpg
Hearty food at the Barrel Inn, Peak District. Image from Tripadvisor.

Pubs and restaurants near to Waterfall Swallet

There are pubs and restaurants nearby in Foolow and Eyam to enjoy after your scramble down to the waterfall. We love to visit the Barrel Inn; the food here is delicious. They use seasonal produce and look to source as much as possible from local Peak District and Derbyshire suppliers. It’s warm and welcoming, with open fires and welcoming staff.

Kinder Downfall, Peak District

We had to include the highest waterfall in the Peak District on the edge of Kinder Scout. This impressive waterfall reaches a height of 30 metres and is surrounded by the most magnificent countryside. It’s a great waterfall to visit as its near other Peak District sights, such as the 2000ft peak of Kinder Scout and Blake Mere Mermaid’s Pool, thought to be home to two mermaids and believed to offer healing powers to anyone brave enough to bathe in its waters. To avoid disappointment, visit out of Summer when the river is prone to drying up in the sunshine.

We had to include the highest waterfall in the Peak District on the edge of Kinder Scout, Kinder Downfall.
We had to include the highest waterfall in the Peak District on the edge of Kinder Scout, Kinder Downfall.

Swimming at Kinder Downfall or the Blake Mere Mermaid Pool

Swimming at Kinder Downfall or the Blake Mere Mermaid Pool is unsafe. The main reason it’s a dangerous place to swim is due to submerged objects in the water. So we suggest ignoring any articles recommending wild swimming at Kinder Downfall or Blake Mere Pool.

Kinder Downfall walking route

This circular route takes you from Hayfield via Kinder Downfall to Kinder Scout; it’s a moderate 9 Mile Route. We love this route as it takes you alongside Kinder Reservoir past Kinder Downfall, and you can also detour off to the official Kinder Scout summit. However, this route can get busy at peak times compared to the previous quieter routes in this article. You can find the full route details and more information here.

Parking for Kinder Downfall

Parking for Kinder Downfall is similar to Kinder Scout parking, and we find Bowden Bridge car park the nearest practical point. It is the starting point of the 1932 Mass Trespass. Sett Valley Trail Car Park is another starting point for walks in the area with toilet facilities.

Delicious food at Colosseo Italian Bar and Restaurant, image from Facebook.

Pubs and restaurants near to Kinder Downfall

There are many lovely pubs, restaurants and cafes near Kinder Downfall. It was hard to pick just a couple! We enjoy visiting the Pack Horse in Hayfield, a traditional cosy country pub serving food all day. Their menu highlights local produce and is made fresh to order. It’s the perfect place to relax after a long hike. We also have to mention a hidden gem in the Derbyshire countryside; Colosseo is an Italian Bar and Restaurant serving tasty food and mind-blowing views!

We hope this article has inspired you to visit one of our favourite waterfalls in the Peak District. They all make a memorable day out and are perfect examples of the beautiful English countryside we are so lucky to have. Let us know if you have ever visited any of these waterfalls in the comments; we love to hear about your own experiences.