Local market towns Ashbourne (2 miles) and Leek (13 miles) with their food markets, antique shops, gift shops, shop local ethos and cafes are great to explore. Tissington Village (7 miles) is often called England’s most perfect villages. Ilam is like stepping into a Swiss village and the three Mayfields locally make a history packed local walk. Bakewell, Buxton, Matlock Bath and Cromford are also close by.
Mayfield village is surrounded by Church, Middle and Upper Mayfield, each of which have hidden gems, including bullet holes left by Bonnie Prince Charlie’s retreating troops, the landlord of the Royal Oak was shot for not giving his horse to the soldiers. There is the former home of poet Thomas Moore while Gallowstree Lane was the route to the gallows and was once on the coach route from London to Manchester, some of the beautiful buildings and coach houses are late Elizabethan. There is a lovely 5k walk and history trail around Mayfield.
Ashbourne (2 miles) became a fashionable social centre for the wealthy during the Georgian period, with six coaching roads meeting here. There are over 200 listed buildings and Ashbourne remains a remarkably unspoilt Georgian town, with some Tudor bits too – like the bakers, where Gingerbread was invented.
Ashbourne is full of history too, Bonny Price Charley declared his father king in the market square during the Jacobite uprising of 1745. There are no end of fascinating alley ways giving a glimpse into medieval street patterns and everyday life and work beyond the many inns and coach houses. 1 in 4 buildings in town have been a a pub at some point. Nowadays you are spoilt for choice for cafes and local produce, antique shops, clothing boutiques and gift shops.
Ashbourne is also home to the famous annual Shrovetide football game, a mass two day football game played through the streets.
Leek (13 miles) is an historic market town with a reputation for unusual shops, antiques, good food and award winning teashops. William Morris had connections in the area and rescued some incredible buildings here – there is an architectural tour map and a Totally Locally tour map too. There is a weekly outdoor market each Wednesday, an indoor market every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in the restored Victorian Butter Market and the antique and collectors’ market held outdoors each Saturday. The 3rd Saturday of the month is Leek’s Fine Food Market and every 1st Sunday of the month is the ‘Totally Locally’ Sunday Supplement Market, championing shopping locally. Our current favourites are Foxlowe Art Centre and Spout Cafe.
Cromford and Matlock Bath (13/14 miles) are lovely to explore. Matlock Bath runs along the river and almost feels seasidey, has a Victorian aquarium, cable cars take you across the valley to explore underground caverns, exhibitions, shops, play areas, picnic spots, cafe and restaurant all with stunning views and in acres of beautiful woodland.
Cromford is known for its historical connection with Richard Arkwright, and Cromford Mill which he built outside the village in 1771. Nowadays Cromford is a World Heritage site and the mill houses a museum and Masson Mills shopping village.
Venture further into Staffordshire and decorate a pot in the ceramic capital of the world, The Potteries at Wedgwood (27 miles) or Emma Bridgewater (18 miles) factories.
Bakewell (18 miles) is a lovely town with great shops, charity shops, cafes and world famous puddings. If you like a second-hand bargain, the Sunday car boot is also worth getting up for in Spring/Summer. On route to iconic Chatsworth House (20 miles) and Haddon Hall.
Spa town Buxton (20 miles) England’s highest market town, home to Buxton water and once a fashionable spa town and heading back that way with current renovations to iconic hotel buildings. A very scenic drive and day out, with its beautiful gardens, craft/art/book antique fairs at the Pavilion and theatre/comedy/music at the Opera House.