There are several market towns and villages locally, with cobbled courtyards, quirky independent shops and specialist antique dealers, which make great places to explore whilst staying at Cruck Barn Cottage:
Ashbourne lies at the southern edge of the Peak District bordering the National Park. The historic buildings and main street give many visitors the opportunity to enjoy a scene which has remained largely unchanged in appearance since the 18th century.
The town has an excellent range of shops – you’ll find everything from independent ladies’ boutiques and fine antique shops to speciality food stores, galleries, bistros, gift shops and much more – the cobbled market place, hidden alleys and yards are a particular delight to explore.
Ashbourne’s market takes place every Thursday and Saturday throughout the year, continuing a tradition that dates back to 1257, when Ashbourne was granted a charter to have stalls in the market place.
Close by is Dovedale one of the Peak District’s most beautiful dales and the village of Ilam has dramatic scenery not to be missed. The renowned excellent traffic-free cycle routes such as the Tissington Trail, which follow the routes of former railway lines are also worth a visit.
The attractive courtyards, independent shops, cafés and its location on the River Wye make it a hugely popular destination for tourists to the Peak District.
Bakewell is the only market town within the Peak District National Park boundary. The weekly market takes place every Monday. Market day is always a bustling time, when the large rural population around Bakewell comes into town to do their shopping. Bakewell also has a Farmers’ Market on the last Saturday of the month as well as a Farmers’ Market Shop open every day for fresh local produce.
You may be familiar with the nationally known dessert, Bakewell Tart, which is named after the original local delicacy, Bakewell Pudding. Discover the history of this famous sweet at one of the three pudding shops within the town.
Buxton’s magnificent architecture allows visitors to stroll through different periods and there are many splendid examples of Georgian and Victorian buildings.
Buxton has a wealth of history alongside a more cultured world of music and literary festivals and the much loved ‘theatre in the hills’, Buxton’s famous Opera House. The Opera House plays an important part in the town’s activities – beyond its varied programme of events in the theatre there are many festivals throughout the year, covering opera, literature, puppets, rock, pop and Gilbert & Sullivan. The Festival Fringe in Buxton is the largest in England and many other venues join in during the festivals adding to the lively, fun-filled atmosphere.
The well-known Buxton Mineral Water is bottled here and is available nationwide, but visitors to Buxton can fill their own bottles from the permanent flow at St Anne’s Well in front of the Crescent. The Pavilion Gardens is worth a visit with 23 acres of gardens and serpentine walkways as well as outdoor and indoor promenades.
One of the town’s most spectacular buildings is The Dome, formerly a hospital and now the University of Derby’s Devonshire campus – amazingly, this vast space was built to house the Duke of Devonshire’s horses. The slate dome is the largest unsupported dome in the UK, with a diameter of 174ft.
Dominated by the ruins of Peveril Castle, the village of Castleton lies at the western end of the Hope Valley and has long been a popular destination for tourists.
To the west of Castleton lies Mam Tor which overlooks the two valleys of Hope and Edale and gives stunning views, Mam Tor Ridge is a popular local walk. Castleton is now famed for its four show caves, once all lead mines, each offering a different experience to the visitor, although the only cave in the village itself is Peak Cavern, home of rope makers through the centuries and where rope is still made during the cavern tour today.
The entrance to Peak Cavern is the largest in Europe at 40ft high and 100ft wide. Speedwell Cavern offers a boat ride underground through half a mile of passages to the end, with views down the ‘Bottomless Pit’. Treak Cliff Cavern has two distinctly different series of caves. The first half is full of minerals and fossils and the second resembles a fairytale world of stalactites and stalagmites. Blue John Mine, opposite Mam Tor, is the deepest of the caves and also contains Blue John stone, but its real beauty is in the vastness of the cave system.
Eyam is perhaps best known for its connection with the Plague, a major outbreak of which occurred in the village during 1665, reputedly brought in from London on a delivery of cloth destined for George Viccars, the local tailor. Soon after the cloth arrived, the family developed symptoms of the plague and died, as did the occupants of neighbouring cottages. Plaques bearing the family details can be seen on the ‘plague cottages’ next to the church.
The local vicar, William Mompesson and Thomas Stanley organised the quarantine of Eyam to prevent the plague spreading, although this wasn’t as restrictive as it may seem to us today, as the population wouldn’t generally have travelled too far beyond the village. Surrounding villages and local gentry helped by leaving food and medical supplies at the edges of the village. These places are marked by boundary stones, still to be seen, and are often found with a hollow in the top where coins were left in vinegar to kill any germs.
To restrict further contamination, William Mompesson also stopped holding services inside the church and instead preached outdoors at Cucklet Delf, a small valley nearby. An annual commemoration service is held there every year during Eyam Carnival and Well Dressing Week at the end of August. Similarly, the dead were not buried in the churchyard but were interred in surrounding fields.
Many of these graves still exist, the nearest to the village being the Lydgate Graves. The most impressive are known as the Riley Graves, where Mrs Hancock buried her husband and six children, all within eight days. A map of the village, available from the church, shows these sites and many more.
Over a period of fourteen months, the plague killed more than two thirds of the village’s population and stories can be seen on the information boards in the church, while the full story can be found in Eyam Museum.
In the centre of the village is the charming 17th century Manor House, Eyam Hall, which was built just after the plague. Owned by the Wright family for more than 300 years, the entrance is through a stone flagged hall, and the tour contains a unique tapestry room, the bedroom with the magnificent tester bed and the nursery with toys from the 1860s to the present day.
The church of St Lawrence dates back to Saxon times and has a font of Saxon origins and Norman pillars, which are thought to rest on Saxon foundations. The nave of the church is of medieval design and dates back to around 1350, although the tower is relatively ‘modern’ being built as late as the seventeenth century!
Hathersage was initially an argricultral village. In 1750 a wire making mill opened with other mills open shortly after. The village became famous for the manufacture of wire, needles and pins. These industries closed in the 1900′s and the buildings today have different uses.
Today, Hathersage is popular with both walkers and rock-climbers. To the east the village is overlooked by moorland and a line of gritstone edges, of which Stanage Edge is the largest. There are also spectacular tors, such as Higgar Tor and the amazing hillfort at Carl Wark.
Don’t miss a visit to David Mellor Cutlery Factory and view the full range of David Mellor cutlery, Design Museum, cafe and country shop. For more information please visit their website. There are many other interesting attractions in the village including Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool, St. Michael’s Church and Hope Valley Ice Cream.