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Midlands - The Peak District

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Top 100 places to visit in the midlands

The Peak District

1. Chatsworth House

Set in the magnificent landscape of Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park, Chatsworth is one of Britain’s best loved historic houses and estates, with something for everyone to enjoy, from famous works of art to the finest shopping, food and drink and many miles of free walks. See the ornate ceilings of the State Apartments, and the Great Dining Room, with the table set as it was for the visit of Geoge V and Quen Mary in 1933. Paintings include works by Hals, Van Dyck and Rembrandt.

2. Dovedale Valley

Dovedale valley is an extremely attractive area of the Peak District offering relatively easy walking for visitors, with a series of attractive villages along its length. At the southern end are the well known hills of Thorpe Cloud, and in the north - Wolfscote Hill. Over thousands of years the River Dove has carved its way through this massive limestone plateau within the South Peak Estate, to create a deep, sinuous and spectacular gorge, long famous for its rock pinnacles spires, arches and caves.

3. Buxton

Buxton has an attractive centre and a string of excellent hotels and B&B's, making it a perfect base for exploring the Peak District. The town has a long history as a spa, beginning with the Romans who found a spring from which 1500 gallons of pure water gushes every hour at a constant temperature of 28 degrees. The grandly refurbished Buxton Opera House is an Edwardian delight dating from 1903, with twin towers, cherubs and Tiffany glass, and hosts the annual Buxton Festival.

4. Hardwick Hall

Stunning Hardwick Hall is one of Britain's greatest and most complete Elizabethan houses built for 'Bess of Hardwick', Elizabethan England's second most powerful and wealthy woman, and has survived almost unchanged. It's a spectacular treasure house containing outstanding tapestries and embroideries. Learn about the traditional craft of stonemasonry at the Stone Centre and explore the historic parklands, orchard and stunning herb garden and see rare breeds of cattle and sheep.

5. Bakewell

The small Derbyshire town of Bakewell would be unremarkable were it not for the famous British Pudding - the Bakewell Tart. It was invented here by accident in 1820, when the landlady of the White Horse Inn left instructions for her cook to make a jam tart. Instead of stiring an egg and almond paste mixture into the pastry, she spread it on top of the jam. Sample this culinary delight in the place it was invented! Two shops in Bakewell sell puddings and tarts they claim to be from the original recipe.

6. Blue John Cavern, Castleton

Blue John Cavern is tucked in a gully at the back of Castleton, its gaping mouth once providing shelter for a rope factory and a small village. Daniel Defoe, visiting in the 18th century, noted the cavern's colourful local name, the Devil's Arse. Cavern Tours show how the caverns were formed and eroded over millions of years by water seeping through the limestone. There's also a craft shop selling jewellery and ornaments made from Blue John, a pretty crystalised mineral found underground.

7. Eyam Well Dressing Festival

Eyam is a small former lead mining village, famous for losing half of its population of 750 to the bubonic plague, a calamity that earned it the epithet of "The Plague Village." You can learn more about the fate of the village and its people at Eyam Museum. Well dressing dates back to pagan times, when sacrifices were made to gods for maintaining the supply of water. Gradually this changed to hanging garlands of flowers over wells which has developed into today's colourful annual festival.

8. Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall is one of the finest examples of a fortified medieval manor house in the country. Dating from the 12th Century it is the home of Lord and Lady Edward Manners whose family have owned it since 1567. This remarkable old house is surrounded by terraced Elizabethan gardens and is set amongst the rolling countryside of the Peak District National Park next to the River Wye. A shop sells souvenirs by local craftspeople and the restaurant serves freshly cooked meals.

9. Speedwell Cavern, Castleton

Go on an incredible underground boat journey in Speedwell Cavern. At six hundred feet below ground, Speedwell Cavern is an extremely deep cave system. However, the main drama comes from the means of access - down a hundred dripping steps and then by boat through a quarter mile long claustrophobic tunnel that was blasted out in search of lead. At the end lies the Bottomless Pit, a pool where 40,000 tons of mining rubble were once dumped without raising the water level.

10. Kinder Scout Walk

Kinder Scout is a high, windswept, upland plateau, most of which stands at around 600 metres above sea level. The highest point is Crowden Head, which at 631 metres is the highest point in the Peak District. This is the largest and grandest of the great upland areas of the so-called 'Dark Peak,' formed of gritstone, and an impressive and imposing place. This walk covers about 8.5 miles and should be attempted only by well equipped, able bodied walkers who can use a map and compass.
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