Lots of our visitors to our lovely Peak District holiday cottage are keen walkers, and the whole of this beautiful Peak District countryside is criss-crossed with footpaths. We have plenty of maps and guides. You can walk from the door, down to Dovedale, up Wetton Hill. You can walk along the many lovely rivers, the Dove, the Manifold, the Lathkill, the Dane – and lots more. Or drive up to the high moors of the Dark Peak around Kinder Scout, one of the greatest wildernesses of England.
Although high, and often wild, all the Peak District is covered with footpaths, some the old ways from village to village, some the packhorse tracks from the middle ages and later. The A515 from Ashbourne to Buxton was a Roman road, leading to the warm springs they so loved. And it is thought that they were following an ancient prehistoric trackway.
High above Manchester on the moors are still the thick flagstones of a Roman road which crossed the Pennines from west to east. .
There are old houses to visit – Chatsworth, Haddon Hall, Hardwick Hall, to name but a few – again, we have guides you can browse through. Our favourite is Haddon Hall, uncompromisingly medieval, but with stunning terraced gardens and the gentle Wye running below.
The plague village of Eyam gives a poignant glimpse into the frightening years when bubonic plague raged through towns and countryside.
Every summer dozens of villages round about celebrate the pure water of their wells with a once-pagan ceremony, the Wells Dressings – fresh flower petals are pressed into clay on a large board hung in front of the wells, making colourful pictures designed by a team of people from each village.
There are several market towns to explore and shop in – Ashbourne, Buxton, Leek are all very different.
Buxton has been known for its hot springs since Roman times, and flourished in the Georgian period, when the world heritage Crescent was built. It has an Opera House and theatre, surrounded by the elegant Victorian Pavilion Gardens. Every July the Buxton Festival fills the town for three weeks with music, singing, literary events, and the Fringe.
Ashbourne has lots of excellent shops – antiques, fashion, food.
Leek – “The Queen of the Moorlands” was a silk weaving town where William Morris visited his friend Thomas Wardle and helped design his silks. Its cobbled market place and churches with Pre-Raphaelite windows and embroideries are quite unique.
Further afield from our Peak District holiday cottage are the Potteries in Stoke on Trent, where bargains can be had in the factory shops.
There are several cycle trails along the old railway lines, with centres where bikes can be hired.
The Peak District was populated in prehistoric times. Arbor Low is a small circle of stones from the Neolithic period. On the top of Minninglow are remains of at least 6 chambered tombs. There are lots of other standing stones and stone circles. We use the Megalithic Portal on the internet to find new reasons for a walk! There are also early Christian Anglo-Saxon carved crosses – Bakewell churchyard, Eyam, up the road in Alstonefield churchyard, where there are also some very early gravestones. Look at the carved Saxon font in Ilam Church and find out about the story of St Bertram!
Eating in and out
The good news is that the best restaurant for miles around is The George up the road in Alstonefield. It is deservedly popular, so do book if you decide to eat there.
Apart from the excellent supermarkets in Buxton and Ashbourne, a few miles away from our Peak District holiday cottage there is an excellent little shop, the Hartington Village Stores, run by friendly Laura. They have all the basics, but will also order pretty much anything in for you if you order before noon the previous day – meat, fruit, veg, deli. Don’t forget the Derbyshire oatcakes, delicious fried with your morning bacon! They deliver to Alstonefield every Friday, otherwise collect from the shop. Across the road is a very useful newsagents.
My husband says I must also tell you about the profusion of local microbreweries, with an astonishing variety of good beers.