Villages around Combs
|Buxton lies just outside the National Park boundaries, but is the most important town for most of the western and central Peak. The town is situated in a natural bowl on the boundary between the gritstone and limestone areas and the River Wye has had to carve a gorge through the limestone to find an exit to the South East. At 300m above sea level the town is the highest town of its size in England.|
The site has been occupied continuously since at least Roman times, when a fort and settlement called Aquae Arnemetiae was established here, probably on the high ground between the market place and the bluff which overlooks the river by the police station. As well as its strategic situation, the Romans were attracted to the site by the warm springs which emerge near the River Wye with a constant temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. They built baths here and for the following centuries these springs have been a major source of importance and income for Buxton.
Inside the former Thermal Baths
The spring at St Ann's well was probably a place of pilgrimage as early as the Middle Ages, but certainly by Tudor times it was fairly well established as a spa and in Elizabeth I's time it was visited for this purpose by The Earl of Leicester, Lord Burghley and no less than Mary Queen of Scots, who was being held captive by the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife Bess of Hardwick at nearby Chatsworth.
The great period of Buxton as a spa began when the 5th Duke of Devonshire started the construction of the Crescent in 1780. This magnificent building took ten years to build and was constructed over the river alongside the site of St Ann's well. It cost the huge sum of �38,000. From this time until the early 20th century a series of fine buildings were constructed in Buxton, starting with the Duke's stables in 1785 - this was converted to a hospital in the 1880s and a huge dome erected over the exercise area in the centre. In 1851-3 a new set of thermal baths were built, but in 1863 the railway arrived in Buxton to usher in its golden age.
The town boomed now that access was easy. Large hotels were built, (of which only The Palace now survives), the Opera House was constructed as was the Pavilion Gardens. Fashionable town houses sprang up and the town expanded to almost its present limits. This period is best captured by Vera Brittan's 'Testament of Youth', which recounts her childhood experiences in Buxton.
Buxton Opera House
At the same time limestone quarrying became a major industry in the immediate area and the stone and associated lime products were easily transported by railway from Buxton across the country. Quarrying continues to be a major local industry.
After the First World War, the spa industry went into a gradual decline and by the 1950s Buxton was a backwater. Recovery began in the 1980s with the reopening of the Opera House and the establishment of the annual Opera Festival. More recently the University of Derby moved into the former Devonshire Royal Hospital building and an ambitious project has begun to reopen the spa and The Crescent.
The town has a full range of shops, centred around a shopping arcade built over the culverted River Wye, just off Spring Gardens. There is a market every Tuesday and Saturday. The town's information centre is in the former mineral baths, next door to The Crescent. Telephone: 01298 25106, fax: 01298 73153.
Other things to see in Buxton include the Museum and Poole's Cavern and Grin Low country Park. Buxton has a well-dressing and carnival which starts on the second Sunday in July. The annual Festival is in mid-late July (information on 01298 70395) and this is followed by the annual Gilbert and Sullivan Festival. The Opera House box office: 01298 72190. The Festival also sports and Edinburgh-like Fringe Festival and continues to grow in popularity.
Buxton Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
0 - Buxton's Edwardian Opera House
1 - Buxton Crescent
2 - Buxton Crescent in snow
3 - Buxton Old Hall Hotel
4 - Buxton - St Johns church
5 - Buxton - St Anns well
6 - Buxton - inside the old Thermal Baths
7 - Buxton Museum
8 - Pavilion Gardens - The minature train
9 - Pavilion Gardens - View across the gardens
10 - Pavilion Gardens - Inside the hot house
11 - Pavilion Gardens - the River Wye and Bandstand
12 - Pavilion Gardens - View across the boating lake
13 - Pavilion Gardens - The Octagon
14 - Buxton - Grin Low - Solomons Temple
15 - Buxton view from Grin Low
16 - Buxton - Pooles Cavern
17 - Buxton Palace Hotel
18 - Axe Edge view down the Upper Dove valley
19 - Buxton - the former Devonshire Hospital, now Derby University
20 - Pavilion Gardens - the Octagon and the River Wye
|Frith is an old-English word for forest, and Chapel-en-le-Frith is the settlement which grew up around the church which was erected here by Foresters from the Royal Forest of the Peak in 1225. The church was dedicated to St Thomas Becket, murdered in 1170. The site chosen was on a ridge of land overlooking the upper Blackbrook valley and close to the junction of the Buxton-Glossop road with the salt trail, which came from Cheshire and crossed Rushup Edge into Edale on its way to Sheffield and Yorkshire. |
With its strategic location the settlement grew quickly, becoming one of the centres of government of the Royal Forest of the Peak. With the coming of the railways in the 19th century the town's expansion was rapid but it's influence and importance faded with its subsequent closure of the Midland line from Manchester to London. The south station (on the Buxton-Manchester line) remains and keeps Chapel linked to the rail network.
The town's current prosperity is due in the main to the local company, Ferodo, that is still based here. Its founder, Henry Ferodo, was a local man and one of the inventors of brake linings.
Parts of the old village survive around the church, which is situated on a knoll just north of the main road. Although initially it looks Georgian, this applies only to the tower and south front, which were erected in 1733. The rest of the church, including almost all the interior, was constructed in the 14th century and is a fine example of the architecture of the period, though less ornate or imposing than Tideswell church, for instance.
There are some fine box pews in the church and in the churchyard is a badly worn Saxon cross, which was brought here from nearby Ollerenshaw. Among the many gravestones there is one which is thought to be that of a 13th century forester. The most notable incident in the history of the church occurred in 1648 during the Civil war, when 1500 Scottish soldiers, taken prisoner after the battle of Ribbleton Moor, were incarcerated here by Cromwell's troops. When the church doors were reopened after two weeks, 44 soldiers had died.
The cobbled market square lies just 100 metres south-west of the church and is surrounded by pubs, though fewer than in the past, and most of the remaining old buildings of the town. It also contains a fine old market cross, the old town stocks, the war memorial and a horse trough placed here to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It is well worth taking a short walk around this area to sample the neat little cottages down Chapel Brow, for example, or down to the 'Hearse House' which is now the information centre.
Chapel Market place
Just to the west of the town lies Eccles Pike, a fine local viewpoint, and below it is Bradshaw Hall, one of the finest local examples of a 16th century manor house.
Nonconformism was a strong influence in the area in the 16th and 17th centuries - John Bennet, a powerful early Methodist preacher lived here and Wesley was a regular visitor. Links with Nonconformism also exist in several of the interesting little hamlets and old halls in the surrounding area, notably Chapel Milton with its fine early 18th century chapel, Wash with a Quaker burial ground, and Ford Hall, which was the home of William Bagshawe, the 'Apostle of the Peak' who was forced to resign his ministry in 1662 for refusing to accept the Book of Common Prayer. Despite this Bagshawe continued to hold secret Nonconformist services at his house for many years.
Though it lies just outside the Peak National Park, Chapel-en-le-Frith is strategically placed for easy access to most of the western and central areas of the National Park and there is good walking to be had locally, with both Eccles Pike and Castle Naze offering excellent views of the area. There is a well-dressing and carnival the first week in July.
Chapel-en-le-Frith Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
0 - Chinley Chapel
1 - Chinley Chapel interior
2 - Chestnut Centre otters
3 - Chapel-en-le-Frith church
4 - Chapel-en-le-Frith cottages
5 - Chapel-en-le-Frith market cross
6 - Chapel-en-le-Frith stocks
7 - Chapel-en-le-Frith Hearse House
8 - Chinley Farm
9 - Chinley with Cracken Edge behind
10 - Chinley - Whitehough Old Hall
11 - Chinley shops
|Modern Chinley is a large busy village with many stone-built Victorian buildings. It is situated just on the western edge of the Peak District National Park. It is a good base for exploration of the western side of the Peak District and for walks up onto Kinder and its outlying hills.|
The area around the village was part of the Royal Forest of the Peak and there was probably little but a few isolated farms here until the 17th century. The oldest building in the area is the Elizabethan hall built at the nearby hamlet of Whitehough by the Kyrke family at the end of the 16th century and now the Old Hall Inn, but some farms along Stubbins Lane are also quite old and in 1711 Charles Wesley was entertained at Chinley End Farm, which still stands in Lower Lane.
View of Chinley and Cracken Edge
In fact Wesley was a regular visitor here and preached often at nearby Chapel Milton, for the area was a hotbed of early Nonconformism. Perhaps one reason why he came was because Chinley was also the home of Grace Murray (later the wife of Charles Bennet, another famous preacher), who is said to be the only woman Wesley loved and would have wished to marry.
The industrial revolution came to the Chinley area and brought the construction of three mills along the Blackbrook which runs through the village. These were followed in 1799 by the Peak Forest tramway, a crude railway which used horse-drawn wagons to carry stone from the quarries at Dove Holes to the canal at nearby Bugsworth basin. The arrival of the railway in 1867 and its later extension in 1901 to carry trains to Sheffield saw Chinley grow rapidly and in the early years of the 20th century it was an important railway junction and a regular stopping-point for trainloads of ramblers at weekends. The modern village contains many houses from this era, built out of stone quarried from nearby Cracken Edge for wealthy commuters who took the train to Manchester every morning. The railway is still an important connection from Chinley to the wider rail network.
The New Chapel
The centre of the village has some shops and there is a pub at nearby Whitehough. Chinley is beautifully situated with plenty of walking close at hand and a walk up Chinley Churn or Cracken Edge gives an excellent view across the area.
Chinley Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
0 - Chinley Chapel
1 - Chinley Chapel interior
2 - Chapel-en-le-Frith church
3 - Chapel-en-le-Frith cottages
4 - Chapel-en-le-Frith market cross
5 - Chapel-en-le-Frith stocks
6 - Chapel-en-le-Frith Hearse House
7 - Chinley Farm
8 - Chinley with Cracken Edge behind
9 - Chinley - Whitehough Old Hall
10 - Chinley shops
11 - Combs and Combs Edge view from Eccles Pike
12 - Chinley and Chinley Churn from Eccles Pike
13 - Chapel-en-le-Frith from Eccles Pike
|Dove Holes is located high up in the limestone heartland of the White Peak, with both dramatic scenery and weather. An active and lively community, it is home to many of the workers from the surrounding quarries and carries a life within it that some of the surrounding dormer and holiday villages often lack. The 'international' beer and jazz festival held annually in early July is not to be missed.|
The main historical point of interest here is the Bull Ring, a Stone Age henge monument similar to Arbor Low, and the next best example in the Peak. It is situated behind the school and church and accessed via the track to the Community centre. The bank and ditch, with a raised area in the centre, are clearly visible, but there are no stones. Local tradition has it that the stones were removed to be used as sleepers for the Peak Forest Tramway, a crude early railway constructed in the 1790s to carry stone to the canal at Buxworth. Despite this loss the Bull Ring remains an impressive place and worth visiting.
Dove Holes Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
0 - Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
1 - Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
|Kettleshulme is a pretty village lying in the valley of Todd Brook, which meanders its way from the western slopes of Shining Tor to join the Goyt at Whaley Bridge. The Swan Inn in the village dates from the 15th century.|
Kettleshulme was once a centre for the manufacture of candlewick material, but this ceased in 1937. In the 19th century it was home to a character called Amos Broadhurst, whose beard grew to a length of seven feet.
The area around Kettleshulme offers fine walking. To the north it is quite easy to walk from the village over the Bowstones and into Lyme Park. The views from Bowstonegate are particularly fine on a clear day. To the west, the route over Taxal Edge leads into the Goyt valley. To the south lie Windgather Rocks, a gritstone edge popular as a training ground for rock climbers. The edge past the rocks leads to The Pym Chair and Cat Tor before eventually reaching Shining Tor. It is a superb day walk. There is a Youth Hostel along the narrow road to Windgather.
Dunge Valley gardens lie just to the west of Wingather Rocks and is well worth a visit, especially in the rhododendron season.
Higher up the valley of Todd Brook is Saltersford, a tiny hamlet on one of the old packhorse roads between Macclesfield and Buxton. Saltersford Hall farms a remote tract of moorland below Cat Tor and Shining Tor and is dated 1593. Just around the corner is a tiny parish church, called Jenkin Chapel, which was built by John Slack in 1733 and is named after a contemporary sheep drover.
Kettleshulme Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
0 - Goyt Valley - Grimshawe chapel
1 - Bowstones
2 - Kettleshulme - Windgather rocks
3 - Saltersford - Jenkin Chapel
|Peak Dale, which is divided almost in two by the former Midland Railway, comprises Upper End on the west side of the railway and Smalldale on the east. Both were built to house quarrymen in the days when the stone was largely hewn from the quarries by hand, and so the settlements are composed mostly of small stone cottages and are surrounded by past, present and future limestone quarries. |
Some of the former quarries have been filled in and landscaped, but others have been flooded and are now filled by blue lagoons. Some of the old quarries are used for various sports activities.
Peak Dale Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
0 - Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
1 - Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
|The quaintly named hamlet of Sparrowpit nestles in a wind-swept spot on a high shoulder where the road from Winnats Pass meets the A623 road, which runs between Chapel-en-le-Frith and Chesterfield. The gritstone houses seem to try to shelter behind the hillside to avoid the wind, for there is little natural shelter here.|
The only amenity is a pub, called the Wanted Inn. This contains some good pictures of the caves as well as snow-bound winter shots of the pub.
|Whaley Bridge is a former mill village centred around the River Goyt, which runs through the village. Until recently the village was dominated by a dyeworks, which provided the main local employment but this closed in the late 1990s.|
Whaley Bridge first came to prominence as the terminus of the High Peak Canal - built at the end of the 18th century to carry limestone from the quarries above Chapel-en-le-Frith to Manchester and beyond. This was originally serviced by the High Peak Tramway - a primitive railway built in the 1780s which linked the quarries at Dove Holes with the main canal basin at nearby Buxworth. The Tramway was an interesting piece of engineering, comprising several fairly level sections with steep 'inclined planes' in between them. Horses pulled wagons full of stone along the level sections, and on the inclined planes there were stationary steam engines to haul the wagons up and down.
The Cromford and High Peak Railway opened in 1830 and linked Whaley Bridge with Buxton and then across the White Peak to Cromford. This unique railway crossed some formidable terrain with steep inclines and used a mixture of stationary engines hauling wagons up steep inclines, like that at High peak Junction south of Cromford, with normal sections of railway track in between. Rather similar in principle to the earlier High Peak Tramway.
The railway brought stone from the quarries above Buxton down to the canal at Whaley Bridge but turned out not to be viable so it shut before the end of the 19th century.
The railway linking Buxton to Manchester was constructed in the 1870s and passed through Whaley Bridge, bringing improved communications and boom conditions to this and other settlements along the line, with a rapid expansion of the local textile industry as well as the possibility of commuting to Manchester. Most of the buildings of the village date from this period.
Whaley Bridge Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
0 - Bugsworth Canal Basin
1 - Bugsworth Canal Basin
2 - Bugsworth Canal Basin
3 - Bugsworth - Navigation Inn