Did you know that the Peak District National Park was the first national park in the United Kingdom? It became so in 1951. It is a major attraction for walkers/ramblers, cyclists, climbers, antique/curiosity/book collectors and anyone who loves the great outdoors. There are plenty of campsites in Derbyshire that can be found on working farms, at pubs, as well as the larger campsites and holiday parks. Depending on your choice of campsite the facilities will vary from a converted yard building with basic toilet and shower facilities to fully serviced pitches with onsite bars, restaurants and even swimming pools! Even at the busiest times of the year at many of the smaller sites there is no need to book you just turn up, pitch your tent and pay your monies.
For those of you that haven’t visited and stayed at campsites in Derbyshire there is plenty to see and do throughout the year. If you are a walker there are 100’s of routes for the novice to the experienced with easy and harder trials. For those of you wanting to avoid the hills/peaks there is the Monsal Trail which is an old railway line that runs between Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, at Bakewell. It is 8.5 miles, traffic free and suitable for wheelchair users, walkers, cyclists and horse riders. There are plenty of access points to the trail so you don’t have to complete an 8.5 mile return journey.
However for the more adventurous you can start or end The Pennine Way at Edale but if you are just going for a ramble around there and then want to finish with a drink in one of the pubs be warned that the Pennine walkers are very reluctant to give up their seats especially if they have just completed the Pennine Way.
So what campsites in Derbyshire are you going to stay at and use as your base. Do you want to stay near the busy market towns of Ashbourne, Bakewell or Belper, well we have all those sites on this website. Perhaps you are after something more remote and rural. On this website you can search and research the campsites in Derbyshire by their location and/or facilities and getting in contact with the park owners could not be easier as there is a direct email link to each and every park.
Surrounded by hills rising to 600ft, Ashbourne is an attractive tourist centre on the edge of the Peak District National Park. It is famous for the free-for-all, no-holds-barred football match waged there over a 3-mile pitch each Shrove Tuesday – sometimes lasting well into Ash Wednesday. Fine old buildings abound in the town Church Street has a 16th-century grammar school, 17th-century almshouses and a Georgian mansron visited by Dr Johnson and Boswell. The church of St Oswald substantially 13th and 14th-century, with a 212ft spire is one of the finest in the country.
The rich brown stone of Bakewell is set against woodland at the foot of the Peak District hills. The church is on high ground, its spire a landmark for miles, and has a famous Saxon cross in the churchyard. One of the oldest packhorse bridges in the country crosses the Wye here. The early settlement grew up around 12 springs«their water now analysed as iron bearing and at a temperature of 15°C. Though most of them have run dry they are not forgotten, for their sites are decorated each July in the ancient ritual of well-dressing. Of interest are Old House Museum and Magpie Mine a 19th century lead mine, the town’s oldest building and now a museum, and Bath House, still fed by warm springs. And when you are staying at Derbyshire campsites in Bakewll or the surrounding area don’t forget to get your Bakewell cake,they are not tarts!
Lambton, the setting of Mr Darcy‘s residence in Pride and Prejudice, is said to be based on Bakewell; Jane Austen stayed at the Rutland Arms Hotel while writing it. The prototype Bakewell tart is said to have been made when an inept chef at the same hotel misunderstood a recipe!
The waters of Buxton charged with nitrogen and carbon dioxide, and bubbling up at a constant 28°C were popular in Roman times, but it was the 5th Duke of Devonshire who established the spa in this small Peak District market town as a fashionable rival to Bath at the end of the 18th century, building the magnificent crescent opposite St Anne’s Well, which houses a micrarium. The Devonshire Royal Hospital was opened in 1859, its 156ft dome among the largest in the world. Today one can swim in an indoor spa-water pool at the Pavilion, which is set in 23 acres of public gardens. The magnificent Edwardian opera house has recently been restored as a theatre. The 19th century folly on Grin Low (1450ft) offers a splendid view point and beneath it, Poole’s Cavern in Buxton Country Park, is interesting to visit.
Peveril Castle, the scene of Sir Walter Scott’s Peveril of the Peak, stands on high ground above the village, which was given to William Peveril by William I. The keep was added a century later by Henry II. Much of the castle has been restored: it’s certainly worth the walk to see it. In Castleton itself and in the vicinity are some of the country‘s most famous caverns: the villagers used to seek sanctuary in them when raiders came. A secret passage connects one of them, Devil’s Cavern, with the castle. The Blue John Cavern, where the attractive blue stone is mined, Peak, Treak Cliff and Speedwell Caverns are all fascinating to visit.
The principal seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire in the lovely setting of Derbyshire’s Peak District, Chatsworth, is one of the great houses of England. The estate was originally acquired by Sir William Cavendish, who married that indefatigable builder, Bess of Hardwick who later became Countess of Shrewsbury. Of this particular one of her houses nothing remains. The present Baroque mansion was begun by her great-great-grandson, the 1st Duke of Devonshire, and its construction was not quite complete when the 6th Duke inherited the title. Its stately rooms contain innumerable treasures, but the outstanding works of art are the paintings, which include works by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Murillo, Veronese, Van Dyck and Lely. In 1760 Capability Brown was brought in to landscape the grounds, to splendid effect. Many of its most triumphant features, however, were wrought by Joseph Paxton -as, for example, the magnificent Emperor Fountain that throws its jets of water 260ft into the air. From 1916-21 the then Duke of Devonshire was Governor-General of Canada.
Chesterfield is mostly known for its church of St Mary and All Saints, which has a crooked octagonal spire. The fault is believed to have been caused by changing temperatures distorting the lead that covers its wooden frame. The church was built in the 14th century and is a good example of ecclesiastical architecture of that period. Among many fine monuments are those of the Foljambe family. Apart from the church, most of Chesterfield’s interesting buildings are modern, but a Heritage Centre has been set up in the medieval timber framed Peacock Inn.
It was here, in this stone built Derbyshire village, that Richard Arkwright built, in 1771, the world’s first mechanised textile factory. The original mill survives, a rather grim looking place that appears to have been designed along the lines of a fortress. The Arkwright Society has undertaken renovations of the mill, warehouses and watercourses. The church and some of the cottages were built for his workers.
Originally a Roman camp, Derby had 6 churches at the time of the Norman Conquest. It was here that Bonnie Prince Charlie gave up his march to London with 17,000 troops. Its cathedral, built in Henry VII’s reign, was rebuilt, except for its 178ft pinnacled tower, in 1725 by James Gibb. Inside you can see the tomb of Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury, who died in 1607.
The industrial revolution resulted in great expansion in Derby. Porcelain was first made here in 1756 by William Duesbury. The right to use the Crown insignia was granted by George III: Queen Victoria later allowed the company to add Royal to the title. Royal Crown Derby is still produced. In 1908 Rolls-Royce opened its carmanufacturing works here. There is a monument to Sir Henry Royce in the Arboretum – the largest of many urban parks, which also has a plaque stone. Rolls-Royce aero engines are among the many exhibits in the Industrial Museum, housed in an 18th century silk mill.
The Twelve Apostles, Jacob‘s Ladder, Lion Rock, Dovedale Castle, Lover’s Leap, Visitor‘s Bridge, Tissington Spires: Dovedale‘s rocks have weathered into strange shapes. There are caves, too, notably Dove Holes and Reynard‘s Cavern. Dovedale itself is a lovely, twisting limestone gorge in the gentler south of the Peak District National Park.
This is the plague village, whose rector, William Mompesson, persuaded his parishioners to isolate themselves when plague struck in 1665 and so prevent the disease reaching other communities. More than 80 per cent of the villagers died. A memorial service is held at the end of August every year in a nearby dell called Cucklet Church where Mompesson held open-air services in the plague year. In the churchyard, where his wife, a plague victim, is buried, there is an unusual 18th-century sundial which tells world time. Eyam is one of several Derbyshire villages which take part in well dressing ceremonies.
A splendid example of a well preserved 12th to 15th-century medieval and manorial house, Haddon Hall has belonged to the Alanners family since 1567 and probably looks much the same as it did 300 years ago. Beautifully situated on the River Wye, its battlemented towers and turrets of warm-coloured Dethyshire stone, never used in self defence, blend serenely with their peaceful surroundings. Of particular interest are the chapel; the long gallery, panelled in oak and walnut, and the Mordake Tapestries.
A striking feature of this Elizabethan mansion, built in 1597 for the Dowager Countess of Shrewsbury (‘Bess of Hardwick’), is the large number and size of windows. A symmetrical, stone building, it has a huge tower at each corner topped with decorative open stonework incorporating the letters is for Elizabeth Shrewsbury. Of particular interest inside are fine tapestries and needlework.
Beautifully situated above the River Derwent, this sturdy Peak District village was the inspiration for ‘Morton’ in Charlotte Bronté’s Jane Eyre. She stayed at the 18th-century vicarage and must have taken her heroine’s name from the Eyre family monuments in the church. Robin Hood’s friend ‘Little John’ is said to be buried in a 14ft grave in the churchyard.
Kedleston Hall is an 18th century mansion in a 500 acre park. The mansion is considered one of the greatest achievements of Robert Adam. It has a magnificent marble hall, state rooms and a fine collection of pictures; added attractions are an Indian Museum and a colony of Canada geese in the park.
Lord Melbourne (1779-1848), Queen Victoria‘s first Prime Minister, was born at the Hall. Years later, Melbourne in Australia, still no more than a small settlement, was named after him. Melbourne Hall is one of Derbyshire’s most delightful stately homes. The formal gardens were laid out by Henry Wise in the style of Versailles. The splendid wrought-iron pergola known as the ‘Bird Cage’ is the work of Robert Bakewell. Thomas Cook, who created package travel, was Melbourne’s other famous son.
There are several Matlocks each adjoining the other and following the line of the beautifully wooded Derwent Valley. Matlock Bath became famous as a spa in the 19th century. The Grand Pavilion is the scene of an annual festival, and between the Pavilion and the river, the Derwent Gardens display their finery and contain some splendid grottoes. On the far bank, the ‘Lovers’ Walks’ are suitably romantic. The town is dominated by the Heights of Abraham, which rise to 1000ft. They were so named by an officer who had fought with Wolfe at Quebec, and who likened them to the plateau on which the General fought his last battle. The Victoria Prospect Tower, perched on the highest point, affords impressive views, and Nestus Mine and Great Masson Cavern are exciting to explore, as is the Peak District Mining Museum.
Often called the backbone of England, this range of ancient hills , their weathered summits clothed in open heath and moorland, stretches from Derbyshire in the south to the Cheviot Hills on the Scottish border. The hills are sparsely populated, dotted with scattered sheep farms and stone-built villages; trees, except where the Forestry Commission has been active, are few. The Peak District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Northumberland National Park preserve much of its most unspoiled scenery. A 250 mile long distance footpath, the Pennine Way, the longest in Britain, runs from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm on the Scottish border. It can be walked in 14 days, or even less by the exceptionally fit.
This little village, whose broad main street is lined by attractive timberframed and Georgian red brick houses, was the 7th-ccntury capital of the Saxon kingdom of Mercia. The tiny 10thcentury crypt of the medieval Church is a treasured example of Anglo Saxon architecture. Ruins of a 17th century priory are incorporated in Repton School, founde in 1557. This is the school attended by Roald Dahl.
Shardlow stands beside the Trent and Liersey Canal. It used to be an inland port; now the narrow boats have been replaced by pleasure craft. The 200 year-old Clock Warehouse contains an exhibition showing – in words, pictures, models, and artefacts how England’s waterway system was created.
This small, stone-built town is finely set among the limestone hills of the Peak District. Miller’s Dale and Chee Dale lie within easy distance. 14th-century St John’s Church is impressive enough to be known as the ‘Cathedral of the Peak’. Tideswell holds an annual ‘well dressing’ ceremony.
A handsome village in the Peak District National Park, east of Dovedale, Tissington is distinguished by its limestone buildings, a good example being the 18th-century vicarage; triangular green; broad, grassy verges, and fine trees. Tissington ‘dresses’ its five wells with an elaborate floral tapestry in an ancient annual ceremony which has survived in a number of Derbyshire Peak District villages.
An ancient town, with its steep terraces of stone houses, Wirksworth was once an important lead mining centre, and a unique 16th-century bronze dish which was used as the standard lead measure is preserved in the Moot Hall. Parts of St Mary’s Church date back to the 13th century, and it has a wealth of early carving; an inscribed Anglo Saxon cofhn lid is thought to be 9th century. Each May the centuries-old ceremony of welldressing is still observed. The town of Snowfield in George Eliot’s Adam Bede is probably based on Wirksworth.
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