Is parking free in the Peak District?

When you drive to the Peak District you don’t want to be surprised by hefty parking fees everywhere you go. Luckily, the expansive area is quite lax when it comes to parking.

Most hotspots with carparks are owned and managed by the Peak District National Park Authority, which covers 44 car parks. Out of those 27 are free to use while the others are pay and display. Compared to cities, the fees are very affordable with most places costing no more than £5 for an entire day. Fees go towards the maintenance of carparks, trails, litter removal, and public toilets (if there are any).

Overnight parking is prohibited but rarely enforced unless you are in a traffic heavy town such as Bakewell or Buxton. They can become congested at peak times so you may need to park on the outskirts and walk 5-10 minutes into the centre.

In addition to car parks there are quite a few free laybys on the roadside by popular walking trails so if you want to roam around it shouldn’t cost you anything in most cases. Even when there’s pay and display parking you can usually find somewhere within a 5 minute drive that is legal to park for free.

Most car parks are out in the open. This is ideal for heavier vehicles like vans and motorhomes. But you’ll struggle to get cover so don’t take any risks with a convertible car that doesn’t at least have a soft top roof.

In most cases, you shouldn’t be worried about leaving your vehicle in free parking spaces. While there are rare cases of car jacking from people coming into the Peak District, crime rate is low compared to suburban areas. Of course, if you want to play it safe, we recommend using the National Park Authority carparks as they tend to have cameras.

If you want peace of mind, you can pay £40 for an annual permit or £15 for the week. But if a carpark is full you will have to look elsewhere. Get to your destination early in the morning (or in the evening for your accommodation). Hotels may have private parking that they charge for.

Be mindful if parking on a roadside so that you don’t obstruct passing traffic or block entry points to fields that farmers use for quads, tractors and 4x4s.

Public transportation is available via local buses to travel around. They tend to repeat routes within the hour but are far less frequent than regular buses in cities.

Free car parks to know about

Derwent Overlook (upcoming pay machine)
Large free car park overlooking Ladybower reservoir.

Hurst Clough – 15 spaces
Upper Derwent beside Ladybower reservoir. If you still can’t get a spot, Fairholmes car park is nearby for £5 all day.

Mam Tor Landslip
Roadside parking at the top of Old Mam Tor Road, past Treak Cavern.

Upperdale – 10 spaces
Monsal Dale near the Monsal trail.