The Market Town of Bakewell

The picture-perfect town of Bakewell, with its beautiful setting on the River Wye, is often referred to as the ancient capital of the Peak District.  It is a relatively small market town with a population of less than 5,000, but its wealth of historic buildings, shops, and restaurants make it a very popular destination for visitors to the area.  It is a wonderful place to explore, with pretty riverside walks, old stone cottages, narrow lanes and hidden courtyards.

Bakewell has a long and fascinating history.  It is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1085, although there is evidence of a settlement here dating back to Roman times.  All Saints Church, founded in 920, is a Grade I listed building, and elements dating back to the 12th Century can still be seen by visitors today.  The beautiful five-arched bridge over the River Wye, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, dates from around 1300 and makes a perfect subject for photographers and artists.  The town’s market was first established in 1254 and still takes place every Monday.

Bakewell is a thriving, busy community today and the town hosts a number of annual events.  Like many Peak District towns and villages, it has a well-dressing ceremony every June, as part of which local people decorate the town’s wells and springs with large pictures made entirely of natural materials, usually flower petals, leaves, seeds, and pebbles. Carnival week, culminating in a procession through the town, is held at the beginning of July.  The Bakewell Agricultural Show, held every August, is one of the largest agricultural shows in the UK, bringing around 65,000 visitors to the Bakewell Showground.  Bakewell also hosts an annual Arts Festival every August, as well as the Peak Literary Festival in Spring and Autumn.  The town’s literary connections include its setting as Lambton in Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice.  The Christmas Market brings the town square to life every December with festive food, craft and gift stalls.

Bakewell is synonymous with its famous Bakewell Pudding (don’t ever call it a Bakewell Tart in this area), a sticky, sweet confection made of pastry, eggs, almonds and jam, and no trip is complete without trying some.  Look out for the quaint Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop for arguably the best examples!

Bakewell is close to the tourist attractions of Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall, and Arbor Low.  For energetic visitors, the nearby Monsal Trail provides a safe, level walking and cycling route out of the town into some of the most stunning scenery in the Peak District.  And once you’ve worked up a thirst, try a brewery tour and sample delicious craft beers at the local Thornbridge Brewery.