Baslow is the largest of the Derwent villages downstream of Hathersage but still within the boundary of the Peak Park. It owes its current size and importance to its location close to the northern entrance to Chatsworth Park and as the starting point for the main route over the moors to Chesterfield.
The village divides into three main sections. Bridge End is the original settlement, clustered around the church and the ancient bridge and ford across the River Derwent
. The church has a Saxon coffin lid in the porch entrance but the oldest part of the current building (the north aisle) dates from about 1200. The tower was constructed in the 13th century but the rest of the church is newer and it was heavily 'restored' (i.e. rebuilt) in the 19th century. Clustered around the church are several shops, plus the Rutland Arms and 'Rowleys' (was the Prince of Wales Inn).
Baslow old bridge
Just behind the church lies the old bridge, also known as Bubnell Bridge, which is probably more interesting. Built in 1603, this is the only bridge across the Derwent which has never been destroyed by floods and a path leading down beside it allows you to examine the fine workmanship beneath the arches. For about two centuries after its construction there were no bridges over the river downstream of this before Derby. The hamlet on the west side of the river is known as Bubnell and at the east end of the bridge there is a dog-kennel-like watchman's hut - perhaps intended to keep a check on the Bubnell folk, to prevent people carrying too-heavy loads across the precious bridge or maybe to collect tolls.
The modern centre of the village is the eastern end, called Nether End, around the entrance to Chatsworth Park
. It provides a number of tourist services with hotels, restaurants, tea rooms, caravan site and the pedestrian entrance to Chatsworth Park. The largest and oldest hotel is the Cavendish Hotel. An 18th century building, it now belongs to the Duke of Devonshire and sports his crest but once belonged to the Duke of Rutland and was called the Peacock Hotel, which is his symbol. Continuing out of the village you come to the so-called Golden Gates, built by Paxton as the main entrance to the Chatsworth Estate but now rarely used.
The third area of Baslow is called Over End and is a residential area on the hillside to the north of the rest of the village. It contains Baslow Hall, which was once occupied by Sebastian de Ferranti, the radio and electrical pioneer and inventor. There was once a large Hydropathic Hotel here too, but this was demolished in 1936.
View from Baslow Edge
The edges around Baslow offer fine walking with splendid views over the Derwent valley. Baslow Edge to the north of the village was once quarried for gritstone and features the Eagle Rock, an isolated 6 metre high block of gritstone. Tradition has it that the local men had to climb this rock before they were worthy of marriage! It is not a particularly easy ascent so there must have been quite a few bachelors around. Just behind it there is a monument to Wellington, raised in 1866 by a local worthy, Dr Wrench.
Gardoms Edge and Birchens Edge lie to the east of Baslow. Gardoms is heavily wooded and somewhat inaccessible. It was once the site of an Iron Age fort and cup and ring marked stones and hut circles have been discovered around here. It is also a fine edge for rock climbing. Birchens is more rounded and easily accessible from the Robin Hood Inn on the Chesterfield road. On the top of the edge is a monument raised to Nelson on the occasion of the battle of Trafalgar. Nearby, three large erratic boulders on have the names 'Victory', 'Defiance' and 'Royal Soverin'(sic) carved into them in honour of the three vessels of the same name involved in the battle. They are collectively known as the 'Three Ships'.
Chatsworth Edge and Dobb Edge lie to the south of the Chesterfield road and a walk from Baslow going into Chatsworth Park and then heading east will take you along these to emerge near the Robin Hood. On the way you pass the Jubilee Stone where the village celebrated Queen Victoria's Jubilee.