|Towns & Village of the Peak District
Snaking their way across the White Peak limestone plateau are the now green scars of several disused railway lines which were all considerable feats of civil engineering in this difficult hilly country. As you'll see below there are so many areas to visit.
The High Peak
After Buxton, Glossop is the most important town in the High Peak. It is an old mill town that occupies a splendid position in the hills at the foot of the Snake Pass, with superb walks in all directions. The Snake Pass (A57) gives tremendous scenic views for the car traveller.
This route takes you down to the Ladybower and Derwent reservoirs, amongst other attractive places. The film the Dambusters was made here where the crews practiced for their missions.
The attractive 18th century industrial village of Hayfield lies close to Glossop. Hayfield is characterised by its three storey weavers cottages and lies at the end of the Sett Valley Trail. It is also the start of many walks onto Kinder and the Pennine Way.
If you are attracted by water, the canal basin and wharf buildings are a popular centre for hiring canal cruisers and there are easy walks along the towpath. If you prefer sailing or fishing try the Combs Reservoir at Chapel-en-le-Frith.
Finally you should visit the Torrs Riverside Park at New Mills. Here you will find a dramatic sandstone gorge with impressive waterfalls over the weir and high level bridges over the gorge. It is where the first cotton mills were built in the eighteenth century and footpaths lead out towards Hayfield and Furness Vale.
Lies at the southern end of the Peak District and is the gateway to Dovedale and Izaak Walton country. It is a pleasant market town which enjoys in St Oswalds one of the finest parish churches in the county with a spire.
There are several impressive streets lined with houses of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when Ashbourne must have been very prosperous. Ashbourne was the favourite haunt of the famous Dr Johnson whose parents came from the nearby village of Great Cubley. Dr Johnson used to enjoy his holidays here as a guest of Dr Taylor at ‘the Mansion’ which still stands opposite the Grammar School.
The game of Shrovetide football, played at Ashbourne, is an ancient tradition, and hundreds of locals participate with much gusto. Play commences by the Henmore Brook and usually continues in the brook itself, although the shopkeepers wisely board up their windows. The teams are the ‘Uppards’ and the ‘Downards’, those born above or below the bridge, but this is not the sort of game in which much emphasis is placed on the rules.
Writing in the 1920’s H V Morton said ‘In the quiet Derbyshire village of Eyam men still talk about the plague though it happened last week.’ The plague was brought from London in 1665 in a consignment of clothes resulting in the death of five out of six inhabitants within a few months. The villagers instituted a self imposed quarantine on the village and waited it out as the infection took its deadly course.
There are touching reminders of this noble act of self sacrifice in and around the village today in the shape of family graves and memorials in the church. The churchyard contains a fine anglican cross probably of the ninth century.
Eyam Hall is open to the public having been built 50 years after the plague, being worthy of a visit, with a buttery and gift shop in the farmyard and the further development of a craft centre in the nearby farmyard.
Is the capital of the Peak District. Bakewell has Saxon origins; there is a Saxon Cross in the churchyard and there are traces of Saxon earthworks on Castle Hill to the west of the town. Agriculture is still the basic activity and the cattle market is one of the largest in the country.
The annual Bakewell Show, started in 1843, is the most important event in the town’s calendar and one of the best agricultural events of its type in the country. Across the world the name of Bakewell is famous for a certain type of sweetmeat. This is generally known as ‘Bakewell tart’ but more correctly as ‘Bakewell pudding’. It was the result of an accident in the kitchen around 1860. The Old Bakewell Pudding Shop is still a popular place in the town and the famous puddings can still be bought here.
A number of tepid springs were the cause of the development of the town in the eighteenth century as a very rustic and secluded watering place. Byron and Ruskin both came here, it being one of the recognised places for the romantic contemplation of scenery. It retains much of its beauty, if not its seclusion, with the houses climbing the steep hillsides above the river.
Gullivers Kingdom is a very popular attraction especially for families and children. Cable cars take you from the River Derwent to the country park at the summit of the Heights of Abraham, where visitors can enter two of Derbyshire’s great caverns.
Both an ancient market town and holiday resort, it is situated 1000 feet above sea level. To the north of the town lie the heights of Axe Edge and Kinder Scout and to the south and east the famous dales.
The fifth Duke of Devonshire decided to develop Buxton as a spa town that would rival Bath and in the 1780’s he engaged John Carr of York to work on his ambitious schemes. The imposing architecture which resulted includes The Crescent, the Assembly Rooms, the Stables (now the Devonshire Royal Hospital), Hall Bank and the Square. The Cliff Gardens were replaced by the sixth duke’s famous gardener Joseph Paxton in 1845.
At a later date the Pavilion was erected and the gardens laid out in 1871. Buxton’s Opera House, which is the focal point of the annual summer festival, was opened in 1903 and underwent a major renovation in 1978. Buxton’s famous thermal springs rise to the surface at the National Baths and are pale blue in appearance when seen in quantity.
One of the Peak Districts most beautiful and endearing traditions is that of well dressing which takes place in about twenty villages each summer. It has become a Christian ceremony today, but probably originated as a pagan thanksgiving to the gods who gave the villages the precious gift of water.
The village well is dressed by decorated boards which usually convey a biblical theme. The design is picked out in the moist clay which covers the boards and then gradually filled in with flower petals which are overlaid like tiles on a roof. The village priest blesses the well and the dressing stands for about a week. Two famous Peak villages Tissington and Youlgreave have a number of different wells.
English Holiday Guide