The White Peak is the lower, southern part of the Peak District in England. In contrast to the Dark Peak and South West Peak, the underlying limestone is not capped by impervious millstone grit, so caves and dry river valleys are common features of the area. The soils are poor and calcareous, creating grazing land for both sheep and cattle.
Broadly speaking, the White Peak covers the Derbyshire Peaks from the Hope Valley southwards, and the Staffordshire Peaks north of the Churnet Valley. The White Peak is one of 159 national character areas defined by Natural England; their defined area covers an area of 52,860 hectares (204 sq mi) and includes the area approximately bounded by Ashbourne, Buxton, Castleston, Matlock, Wirksworth and Cheadle.
The largest towns in the White Peak are outside the area of the Peak District national park. These towns include Matlock and Buxton, while Bakewell and most of the villages in the park are in the White Peak area. Around the areas of Tideswell, Flagg, Chelmorton and Youlgrave, long thin fields created by the enclosure of medieval strip fields can be seen. The region is rich in footpaths, bridleways and green tracks that give access to the area. Longer distance ones include the Limestone Way and the Pennine Bridleway, and former railway trackbeds such as the Monsal Trail, the High Peak Trail, the Tissington Trail and the Manifold Way.
The area is of interest to geologists, since much of the underlying strata have been exposed by extensive quarrying, and can be seen in the old railway cuttings along the Monsal Trail through Monsal Dale and Millers Dale.
- Bull, John. The Peak District: A Cultural History (Signal Books, 2012). Explores the culture and history of the two landscapes of the Dark and White Peak.
- More information about the White Peak.