Villages around Matlock

Birchover

Slideshow

Birchover is larger than first appears, with rows of cottages clustered along a road which heads straight up the hillside to the historically significant Stanton Moor. It is a very good centre for exploring both Stanton Moor and Harthill Moor on the opposite side of the valley.

At the bottom of the village is the Druid Inn and there is a church hidden in a hollow below it. The church has some unusual paintings which seem more appropriate to the namesakes of the Inn than a church. Behind the Druid Inn is Rowtor Rocks, a small gritstone tor with a fine view similar to the better-known Robin Hood's Stride across the valley from it. It contains several finely balanced rocking stones which can be moved by the application of a shoulder. One of these could once be moved easily by hand, but was shifted from its position as a prank by fourteen young men on Whit Sunday 1799 and although it was replaced it is not now so finely balanced. The steps and seats which are carved out of the rock here were the work of the Reverend Thomas Eyre, the builder of the village church.

At the top of the village there is an active and important stone-cutting works and behind this are quarries where high-quality gritstone is extracted for building purposes.
 

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Birchover Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Stanton Moor - Cork Stone
0 - Stanton Moor - Cork Stone
Harthill Moor - The Nine Stones
1 - Harthill Moor - The Nine Stones
Stanton Moor - the 9 ladies stone circle
2 - Stanton Moor - the 9 ladies stone circle
Robin Hoods Stride
3 - Robin Hoods Stride
Stanton Moor - the Andle Stone with Youlgrave behind
4 - Stanton Moor - the Andle Stone with Youlgrave behind
Birchover view
5 - Birchover view
Cratcliffe Tor
6 - Cratcliffe Tor
Winster - Old Market Hall
7 - Winster - Old Market Hall
Winster Dower House
8 - Winster Dower House
Winster Hall
9 - Winster Hall
Winster street
10 - Winster street

Bonsall

Slideshow

After the bustle and noise of Matlock Bath it comes as a surprise to find just over the hill a peaceful village like Bonsall nestling in a deep dale. Bonsall is a village of many parts; The steep road up from the Via Gellia is called The Clatterway. At the village green The Dale splits off to the left while the High Street carries on all the way to Town Head. Between Town Head and The Dale is Uppertown while just along from The Dale is the hamlet of Slaley.

Bonsall has a long lead-mining heritage and once boasted five pubs. The moor above is pock-marked with the remains of lead-mines and the village comprises mainly small lead-miners and weavers cottages.

At the centre of the village is an old market cross on a circular base of steps outside one of the two remaining pubs, The King's Head, dating from 1677. Just along church lane is the Victorian church, which overlooks the village. Over in The Dale is the other remaining pub, The Barley Mow, which hosts the annual Bonsall Chicken Race on the first Saturday in August.
 
Bonsall Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Matlock Bath - The Pavilion
0 - Matlock Bath - The Pavilion
Bonsall Market square
1 - Bonsall Market square
Cromford - Scarthin and millpond
2 - Cromford - Scarthin and millpond
Matlock Bath
3 - Matlock Bath
Matlock Bath from above the Temple Hotel
4 - Matlock Bath from above the Temple Hotel
River Derwent at Matlock Bath
5 - River Derwent at Matlock Bath
Middleton by Wirksworth cottages
6 - Middleton by Wirksworth cottages

Cromford

Slideshow

Greyhound Inn
Greyhound Inn
Cromford is a substantial village which was constructed by Sir Richard Arkwright to house his employees at the nearby Cromford Mill. The village is centred around the Greyhound Inn and the market place in front of it, which Arkwright constructed in 1790 over the brooks which gave Cromford (crooked ford) its name. Behind this is the millpond, which was constructed to regulate the flow of water from Bonsall Brook to the mill, and in the other direction the village stretches right up the hill towards Black Rocks and Wirksworth.

It's a busy, bustling place at the junction of the A6 and the Via Gellia (A5012). There are several shops in the area around the Greyhound Inn, including the magnificent Scarthin Bookshop. On the other side of the A6 the road to Cromford Wharf and the Cromford Canal takes you to Arkwright's Mill, which is now a major visitor attraction, and the village church, which contains Arkwright's tomb and lies in a secluded spot near Willersley crag. Opposite the crag on the other side of the Derwent is Willersley Castle, built by Arkwright as his home and now a hotel. Just up the A6 toward Matlock is Arkwright's grand and imposing Masson Mill, which now houses a useful and interesting shopping complex.
 
Cromford Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Richard Arkwright
0 - Richard Arkwright
Matlock Bath - The Pavilion
1 - Matlock Bath - The Pavilion
Black Rocks, Cromford
2 - Black Rocks, Cromford
Black Rocks climbers
3 - Black Rocks climbers
Bonsall Market square
4 - Bonsall Market square
Cromford - the Greyhound Inn
5 - Cromford - the Greyhound Inn
Cromford Canal and Wharf
6 - Cromford Canal and Wharf
Cromford - Scarthin and millpond
7 - Cromford - Scarthin and millpond
Cromford - High Peak Junction
8 - Cromford - High Peak Junction
Matlock Bath and High Tor
9 - Matlock Bath and High Tor
Matlock Bath
10 - Matlock Bath
Cromford - Willersley Castle
11 - Cromford - Willersley Castle
Cotton Doubling machine at Masson Mills
12 - Cotton Doubling machine at Masson Mills
Masson Mills
13 - Masson Mills
Matlock Bath from above the Temple Hotel
14 - Matlock Bath from above the Temple Hotel
River Derwent at Matlock Bath
15 - River Derwent at Matlock Bath
Steeple Grange Light Railway
16 - Steeple Grange Light Railway
Steeple Grange Light Railway engines
17 - Steeple Grange Light Railway engines
Steeple Grange Light Railway train
18 - Steeple Grange Light Railway train

Darley Dale

Slideshow

Darley Dale is a long, drawn out Derwent Valley settlement that lies A6 to the north-west of Matlock. It is principally residential now but was the location of the Mill Close Mine - the last major lead mine in the Peak, which closed in 1939. Now there is a lead smelter on the site. Largely ignored by the traffic passing through it nonetheless has some very interesting nooks and crannies. The old town is down and to the west of the road towards the river and the parish church has a Norman font and a very old and impressive yew tree with a 33-foot girth. The tree is claimed to be over 2,000 years old. On the main A6 road above the church is the Whitworth Institute, founded by Sir Joseph Whitworth, a local industrialist and local benefactor.

Either side of Darley Dale there are excellent walking prospects and scenery. To the West is Stanton Moor with both ancient and industrial heritage while to the east is the much quieter Fallinge Edge, now largely accessible thanks to the CROW act. Both Stanton and Fallinge are gritstone and sport incredible heather in late July and August.
 
Darley Dale Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Restaurant car at Peak Rail
0 - Restaurant car at Peak Rail
Peak Rail engine
1 - Peak Rail engine

Grangemill & Ible

Grangemill is situated at a crossroads on the Via Gellia, the A5012 road from Cromford to Buxton. There are a few houses, the former mill, and a pub called the Hollybush.

Ible is situated on the hilltop just to the east. Relatively untouched and untroubled, it is one of the Peak's best hidden little hamlets, with a small cluster of farms on a bluff overlooking the Griffe Grange Valley below.
 

Middleton by Wirksworth

Slideshow

Middleton by Wirksworth (so called to distinguish it from another Middleton near to Youlgrave) is perched high on a hillside above Wirksworth and Cromford.

Founded in Saxon times as a farming hamlet around an unusually high spring, the village developed in the 17th and 18th centuries as a lead-mining centre (like nearby Wirksworth) and a few of the older buildings in the upper part of the village date from this period.

The arrival in 1825 of the Cromford and High Peak Railway, which passes just below the village, brought rapid change. Middleton sits on some of the purest limestone in Europe, and the ability to transport this stone meant that large quarries developed all around the village and higgledy-piggledy groups of quarrymens' cottages spread across the hillside. Among other things, Middleton stone is noted for being used for WWI war gravestones.

The quarries around the village closed in the late 20th century and Middleton is now more of a commuter village with some light industry centred around the former quarries.

The village is spread out around a long main street with several narrow sections where it passes between old buildings. There are two pubs and a post office, plus a nice Victorian church and several Non-Conformist chapels, only one of which is still active.

DH Lawrence spent a year here living in a cottage on the road down to the Via Gellia to the north of Middleton.
 
Middleton by Wirksworth Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Middleton Top Winding Station
0 - Middleton Top Winding Station
Middleton by Wirksworth cottages
1 - Middleton by Wirksworth cottages
Middleton by Wirksworth view
2 - Middleton by Wirksworth view
Steeple Grange Light Railway
3 - Steeple Grange Light Railway
Steeple Grange Light Railway engines
4 - Steeple Grange Light Railway engines
Steeple Grange Light Railway train
5 - Steeple Grange Light Railway train

Wensley

Slideshow

Wensley is a small village of former lead-miners' cottages which overlooks the Derwent Valley above Darley Dale. It provides good access to the beautiful Clough Wood and Cambridge Wood and from there to Stanton Moor. Deer are frequently seen around this area. There is a pub here.
 
Wensley Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Stanton Moor - Cork Stone
0 - Stanton Moor - Cork Stone
Stanton Moor - the 9 ladies stone circle
1 - Stanton Moor - the 9 ladies stone circle

Winster

Slideshow

Winster Market Hall
Winster Market Hall
Winster is one of the oldest and most picturesque villages in the Peak and was once the centre of the local lead mining industry. It is named after Wynn's Tor, an outcrop of rock on the edge of Bonsall Moor above it. In the 18th century this was a thriving and prosperous centre and acquired some fine buildings which remain to attest to this short period of importance. Chief of these are Winster Hall, which stands half-way along the main street, and the Dower House, which is in front of the church.
Dower House
Dower House
Its most conspicuous landmark is the old Market Hall, which stands in the centre of the main street and was constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is a unique building and was the first property in this area to be acquired by the National Trust.

The village still has the feel of a lead-mining centre, with rows of former miners' cottages clinging to the slope of the north side of the hill. There are shops and a pub called the Bowling Green, which bears the date 1473 though the present building is much newer. Outside the village proper to the south is the Miners' Standard, a well-known former miners' pub and just up the hill from this there is an unusual building which was once used for storing lead ore.

Parking in Winster can be a bit tricky if you are planning to use it as a base from which to explore the area and it is best to park in the vicinity of the Miners' Standard rather than the Main Street
 
Winster Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Robin Hoods Stride
0 - Robin Hoods Stride
Birchover view
1 - Birchover view
Cratcliffe Tor
2 - Cratcliffe Tor
Elton cafe
3 - Elton cafe
Winster - Old Market Hall
4 - Winster - Old Market Hall
Winster Dower House
5 - Winster Dower House
Winster Hall
6 - Winster Hall
Winster street
7 - Winster street

Wirksworth

Slideshow

Wirksworth Market Place
Wirksworth Market Place
Wirksworth is one of the oldest towns in this area of the Peak District and is still one of those with greatest character. Centred around its marketplace, where markets have been held since Edward I granted the right in 1306, it has many fine old buildings with picturesque alleys and craftsmen's yards. The reason for the splendour of many of the buildings is Wirksworth's historical trade - it was the southern centre of the Derbyshire lead industry and the Soke and Wapentake of Wirksworth, as it was called, was one of the most productive mining areas.

Wirksworth was well established by Saxon times and the Abbey of Repton owned the mining rights here in the 8th century, the Abess sending a coffin of Wirksworth lead for the burial of St Guthlac in 714. After the Danes sacked Repton in the 9th century the area fell under Danish influence, giving rise to typically Danish names like 'Wapentake'.

Wirksworth Church
Wirksworth Church
The town prospered through Mediaeval times, giving rise to a fine 13th century church which replaced a Norman one which in turn had replaced a Saxon church. This lies to the east of the market place, behind the library. In the opposite direction is an area of narrow streets and alleys called The Dale and Greenhill, where many old cottages and houses of lead merchants survive, notably a magnificent Jacobean house known as Babington House. Just off the market place is the town's information centre and Heritage Centre, sited in a pleasantly converted old merchant's yard. Wirksworth was the meeting place for the Barmote Court of the lead mining 'Liberties' of the low Peak and the Moot Hall, where the court meetings are still held, lies in a little back street north of the church.

Moot Hall
Moot Hall
The town was for many years under the influence of the Gell family who were lords of the manor and based at nearby Hopton Hall. Sir Anthony Gell founded the local school in 1546 and Sir John Gell was a Parliamentary general in the Civil War. Both are buried in the church. Another historical link is with George Eliot, who based the character of Dinah Morris in her book 'Adam Bede' upon her aunt Elizabeth Evans, who lived in Wirksworth and was a Methodist preacher. Her house may still be seen.

The town is now a small bustling local centre whose main industry is limestone quarrying. It has a range of small shops and as many pubs as you would expect in an old market town, of which the Hope and Anchor, the Red Lion and the Black's Head are the most notable.

The town has a welldressing in Whit week, and every September there occurs the unusual ceremony of 'Clypping', in which the church is encircled by the congregation holding hands around it. Wirksworth has also recently developed an excellent Arts Festival, which happens over a weekend in September. The Festival includes all forms of Art, with the market Square the centre for music, dance and street acts while many of the houses around the village play hosts to many different forms of artistic expression. Tours and tour maps can be bought in the local shops during the festival.
 
Wirksworth Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Wirksworth church - exterior view
0 - Wirksworth church - exterior view
Saxon miner in Wirksworth Church
1 - Saxon miner in Wirksworth Church
Wirksworth Church - Saxon tombstone
2 - Wirksworth Church - Saxon tombstone
Wirksworth Church - Saxon stone fragments
3 - Wirksworth Church - Saxon stone fragments
Wirksworth Church - Gell tombstone
4 - Wirksworth Church - Gell tombstone
Wirksworth Church - Gell tombstone
5 - Wirksworth Church - Gell tombstone
Wirksworth Church - tomb of Sir Anthony Lowe
6 - Wirksworth Church - tomb of Sir Anthony Lowe
Middleton Top Winding Station
7 - Middleton Top Winding Station
Black Rocks, Cromford
8 - Black Rocks, Cromford
Black Rocks climbers
9 - Black Rocks climbers
Moot Hall in Wirksworth
10 - Moot Hall in Wirksworth
Wirksworth market square
11 - Wirksworth market square
Steeple Grange Light Railway
12 - Steeple Grange Light Railway
Steeple Grange Light Railway engines
13 - Steeple Grange Light Railway engines
Steeple Grange Light Railway train
14 - Steeple Grange Light Railway train

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