Attractive towns, pretty villages....
The market towns and villages of the Derbyshire Dales are always a pleasure to visit. In the attractive towns of Bakewell, Ashbourne, Matlock and Wirksworth a wide range of independent shops offer everything from speciality foods and crafts to outdoor clothing. Pretty villages nestle in superb countryside - stone cottages, fine manor houses and interesting churches - perfect places to relax and unwind.
Don't miss Bakewell in its lovely setting on the banks of the Wye. Mellow stone buildings, a medieval arched bridge and little courtyards create a sense of timelessness, with colourful gardens and riverside walks all adding to the scene. High quality shops sell many local specialities, including the famous 'Bakewell Pudding' and there are lots of pubs, cafes and restaurants. The Monday market is popular, as is the monthly Farmers Market on the last Saturday of the month.
Explore the hidden alleys and cobbled marketplace of Ashbourne, a vibrant market town with historic Georgian buildings of mellow brick. Noted in particular for the antique shops, there are also a wide choice of delicatessens, designer boutiques and art galleries. Visit on a Thursday or Saturday to catch the market or on Shrove Tuesday to see the annual Shrovetide Football match (with goals 3 miles apart!).
Matlock and Matlock Bath
The dramatic gorge of the River Derwent connects Matlock and Matlock Bath and you can explore the five historic parks which follow the river (pick up a leaflet at Peak Rail or the Peak District Mining Museum). Don't miss a ride on the cable car at Matlock Bath to the clifftop visitor centre at the Heights of Abraham. Or a ride on a steam railway from Peak Rail at Matlock.
Matlock Bath Illuminations take place during September and October.
Wirksworth is an unspoilt gem, a historic town with a strong heritage in the lead mining industry. A visit here should not be hurried - you need time to wander round the narrow lanes and hidden corners. Don't miss the beautiful Church of St Mary, standing in its cathedral-like setting at the heart of the town, or a visit to Wirksworth Heritage Centre.
The two-week art festival in September receives many accolades - a lively showcase for the many artists who exhibit their work.