For years now I have wandered and captured photographs in the Peak District. Some good some not so good, but that’s the challenge! To visit and re-visit new and old locations in the best available conditions and achieve a unique perspective and photograph.
We don’t have coastal scenes or vast amounts of water in the Peak to help us in our compositions, but what we do have are some of the most stunning beautiful rural scenes. Filled with rich greenery and rock formations, limestone or gritstone and some of the finest moorlands in the country.
This page ranks 101 locations that I have visited and photographed, and lists the top 10.
I ranked all of the locations individually taking into consideration how accessible the route is, how much available parking and if it is free, how many compositions are there, and what are the views like and lastly taking into consideration desirability.
If you visit one of the locations and take a few pictures, I would love to see the pictures so be sure to tag me on IG @jamespictures.co.uk
Mam Tor shouldn’t surprise you as being the number one location to photograph in the Peak District. It’s where all new photographers hone there skills and drills behind the camera! Just inside the Dark Peak of the National Park and well within Derbyshire, Mam Tor has stunning views over the Hope and Edale valleys.
It’s easily accessible, has lots of available parking and the number of compositions are endless. If you want to get a classic photograph of the Peak District then this is it. The gates, the ridge, the valley!
Admired and loved by all who visit the area who walk, climb, paraglide or just to enjoy and cherish family days out. Mam Tor and the Great Ridge has it all – It was also voted the UK’s number 10 walk in 2018 you can see why!
If you are feeling energetic you can walk the 2 miles to Losehill Pike which is the last hill on the Great Ridge and shoot back towards Mam Tor.
However the most popular composition is of the gates on the northern side of Mam Tor, it can get very busy at weekends so get there early!
Even at 5 am I have seen 10+ photographers lined up waiting to get that shot, so my advice would be to visit midweek if possible.
If you want to check on the local weather, then check out this great free resource Mam Tor Info
Ranked number 3 is The Roaches. It ranked ahead of Winnats Pass because of the variety of compositions and vantage points. Winnats Pass has Hope Valley, and whilst it is stunning you can admire the same valley from Mam Tor, which is number 1.
The Roaches attracts walkers, families, climbers and photographers. It gets very busy in the summer months. Its probably the number one photography location in Staffordshire.
Most photographers tend to compose an image of the wall as a leading line with Tittesworth Reservoir in the far distance, as I have done too. It’s a classic.
Yet the Roaches have much more to offer than just that composition. On the top is Doxey Pool a small pool of water and underneath is the ancient woods. Great for moody, atmospheric shots when the weather is poor or misty. At the northern end, which is best shot at sunset is the triangulation pillar with lots of Roaches gritstone and compositions galore.
The Roaches come to life in the Autumn months as the heather flowers in plenty.
Most photographers tend to head to Surprise View, but I can’t recommend the area around Roach End Barn enough, especially Back Forest. Heather as far as the eye can see.
Parkhouse Hill is the smaller of the two most visited in the Upper Dove Valley, Chrome Hill being the other. I ranked Chrome Hill as number 2 in the top 101 locations because the views are somewhat better than Parkhouse.
Parkhouse Hill is in Derbyshire in the Upper Dove Valley and has a distinctive shark tooth like shape to it.
If you want to visit this location, it’s a short but sharp assent to the summit and is best climbed from the south. Be aware that there is no path as such, and you will be out of breath on the way up!
Getting back down can be tricky in wet and snowy conditions as the limestone is very slippery – take care.
The best time to shoot from the summit of Parkhouse is at sunset looking over to Chrome Hill. I have found that shooting at sunrise and is great as the sun casts some strong shadows over Chrome Hill.
Getting to Parkhouse is straight forward. You can park in the villages of either Earl Sterndale or Hollinsclough, both are a 1-mile walk, however, if you are intending to go up Parkhouse I would probably choose Earl Sterndale as the easiest ascent is from the Southern side.
I made this quick Google Map that covers both Parkhouse & Chrome Hills for your convenience.
Curbar Edge looks down upon Derwent Valley in Derbyshire and is a gritstone edge rock formation. Loved by walkers, climbers and photographers it is one of the more popular and accessible locations which has been admired by many. It ranked in at number 6 because of its endless composition opportunities and ease of access.
Parking at Curbar Gap, you can make the short 5 minutes walk up to admire 180-degree views over the edge and into the valley below.
I personally prefer to shoot this location at sunrise as the sun rises and hits the rocks in the foreground.
If you’re lucky you might even get to witness mist rising in the Derwent Valley and rolling over Baslow Edge which is across the road to Curbar Edge.
Curbar has a lot to offer if you take your time and slow down. There are a few milestones dotted around, as well as a prominent 10ft pinnacle which to be fair is hard to photograph.
Whilst at Curbar you can also carry one walking down to Froggatt Edge, or head over the road to Baslow Edge which overlooks the Chatsworth Estate.
This area is rather nice when the heather is in flower, as are most of the Peak District to be fair.
Dean Rocks places Greater Manchester on the map for one of the best views in the Peak District. High up on Saddleworth Moor looking down onto Dovestone Reservoir is a view worthy of the hour’s hike.
Saddleworth Moor in the Dark Peak of the National Park is predominantly moorland, very remote and sparsely inhabited. This means that its one of the quietest places to visit to get away from it all.
Setting off from Binn Green Car Park it’s a straight forward route over the reservoir, up Ashway Gap and around to the right onto Dean Rocks.
Once on location, there are so many compositions to work with, Dove Rocks, the Cairn on Fox Stone and Dean Rocks themselves. One of those locations that you can just sit and watch the world go by.
I have always shot this location at sunset, and I have always had great results. The best time to visit is when the heather is in bloom, it’s in abundance up on top and it will no doubt add to your compositions.
Be sure to take a good torch and a map of the route as you will be walking down in the dark if you stay for the last light.
If you want a slightly closer location but still great views and similarity of Dean Rocks then give Ashway Rocks a look.
The Upper Dove Valley in Derbyshire has 3 of the top 10 best locations to photograph in the Peak District, and Hitter Hill comes in at number 9.
With its ease of getting on location fast, combined with free parking, views, and accessibility you can see why it scored high on the desirability.
Lacking in the composition department it still manages to be a place you should aim to visit.
This location has managed to impress the judges in the Take a view – Landscape Photographer of the Year competition by myself in 2016 and Francis Taylor in 2017. Out of interest, both shots were taken after heavy snow fall.
Getting on location is very easy. Park in Earl Sterndale village, you then walk to the rear of the “The Quiet Woman” pub follow the public footpath over the stile and bear right once up on top.
To get both Parkhouse and Chrome hills in the frame you are going to need a telephoto lens for this location. Using a full-size sensor I was shooting at a 60mm focal length (40mm for crop sensor).
If you want to isolate the hills in your composition you will need at least a 90mm (60mm cropped sensor) focal length lens. If you only have a wide angle lens you’re going to struggle – something to factor in if you’re preparing a visit.