An historic town of exceptional character and once the centre of Derbyshire's lead mining industry, today Wirksworth is known best for its Arts and Cultural scene with its own superb annual Arts Festival each September. Wirksworth's narrow lanes, steep inclines and alleys are a delight to explore and the surrounding area is very picturesque.
The Church of St Mary is amazingly grand for a parish church, housing many interesting features including a Saxon coffin lid, Norman font and fine carvings. An alleyway off the Market Place leads to the Heritage Centre where the history and development of the town is explained. At The Moot Hall the ancient lead miners Court is still held and other fine buildings include the Priest's House, Gell's Almshouses and the Old Grammar School.
There are galleries, craft shops, teashops, restaurants and some good pubs in the town in addition to an array of independent shops to meet your every want and need and a small market held each Tuesday.
The town is served by 2 infant schools, a junior school and the Anthony Gell secondary school.
Well Dressings are held from late May to early June, there is an annual Carnival and the unique annual ceremony of Church Clypping, embracing the church boundaries, is also in September within the Arts Festival. On the outskirts to the north, the National Stone Centre tells the story of stone and how it has influenced the development of the area. On the edge of the village is the Steeple Grange Light Railway - once serving the limestone quarries, it now carries passengers along a narrow gauge line.
The village of Cromford is built amongst fine rock scenery and sits astride the main A6 Derby road at the southern end of Matlock Dale deep in the Derwent Valley.
The village owes its historical significance entirely to the River Derwent, the original old English name of "Crune-ford" meaning "crooked-ford".
Cromford is also known as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution for this was where Richard Arkwright (1732-1792) chose to build the world's first water-powered cotton mill in 1771.
The character of the village was completely transformed in the early years of the 19th century when Scarthin Nick was blasted through with dynamite to make way for what later became the A6, thus annexing the Arkwright industrial mill complex on the east side of the main Derby road and the Market Place and village at the bottom of the hill which climbs steeply westward towards Wirksworth, on the other.
Richard Arkwright was responsible for most of the village's construction; not only did he build an entire industrial complex of mills and workshops, but he also built houses for his workers, a school, a chapel, and an inn in the Market Place.
The Greyhound Hotel Built in 1788, with its magnificent original Georgian frontage dominates the Market Place. At the rear of the hotel, flanked on one side by Scarthin and on the other by Water Lane, is the attractive Mill Pond. At its head is the constantly turning water-wheel from where Arkwright channelled water to power his first mill.
Hognaston lies just west of Carsington Water and has a population of around 300. The village has some fine old houses, 17th century cottages and boasts a pub, the Red Lion, and a post office. It is a beautiful and quiet place, having been bypassed by the road which now serves the reservoir and is a good centre from which to explore the surrounding area.
Described as "The Gateway to Dovedale", Ashbourne is a fine old market town with much to offer. Ashbourne has a fantastic range of individual shops and is renowned for its antiques shops.
Ashbourne became a busy and fashionable social centre for the wealthy during the Georgian period and a stroll down the main street today takes you past historic almshouses, the 16th century Old Grammar School, the Mansion where Dr Johnson visited his friend Dr Taylor and the lovely parish church of St Oswald, with its graceful 212ft spire and the oldest dedication plaque of its kind in Britain, dating back to 1241.
Ashbourne's legacy of more than 200 listed buildings, fine coaching inns and mellow-bricked town houses combine to create the town's unique atmosphere.
The medieval annual Royal Shrovetide Football Game attracts thousands of visitors as does the Highland Gathering held in July. A wide selection of eating and drinking establishments in the town cater for every taste.
In addition to good shopping, there are excellent recreational facilities in the town parks with a good leisure centre, swimming pool, squash courts and gymnasium. Near the town centre is the Tissington Trail, a former railway line, now converted for use as a trail for walkers and cyclists with bike hire available. Market Day is on Thursday.
Other attractions nearby include Carsington Water – a reservoir with water sports centre surrounded by numerous trails set amidst spectacular scenery.
The Queen Elizabeth Grammar School is a highly regarded comprehensive school for 11 – 18yr olds and there are a number of good local infant and junior schools.
The village of Brassington is situated 3 miles North of Carsington Water, and close to the market towns of Wirksworth and Ashbourne, on the edge of the beautiful Peak District.
The village is a lovely one in which to live, with a population of around 580. There are many societies active in the village and Brassington has its own Primary School and preschool. St James' Church sits high on the side of a hill overlooking Brassington village with its narrow streets and fine old buildings.
Ye Olde Gate Inn in the heart of the village has been named "Britain's coziest pub" by The Times and serves fine food and The Miners Arms is another superb pub which also serves hot drinks and food freshly cooked to order.
Although there is not currently a shop in Brassington, a mobile grocery and fish supplier visit the village on a weekly basis.
All year round the views in and around Brassington are breathtaking.
Carsington & Hopton
The picture postcard village of Carsington and its equally attractive neighbour, Hopton, are inseparably linked. They lie in a wooded valley, with Carsington Pasture rising steeply to the west, close to Wirksworth and the village of Brassington. The villages are both within half an hour's walking distance of the Visitors' Centre at Carsington Water, a reservoir which Severn Trent have successfully turned into a flagship attraction for recreation and leisure and a thing of beauty.
The houses in Carsington and Hopton almost overlap on the shared narrow road. A new mile and a half long by-pass takes the main Wirksworth to Ashbourne road out of both villages, leaving them traffic-free backwaters, which have mostly remained unchanged for at least two centuries.
The dwellings forming the nucleus of Carsington village cluster together at Townend, and huddle around the tiny triangular village green, directly opposite the hillside church of St. Margaret's at the foot of Ivet Low. An old Saxon preaching cross on the village green stands opposite the mullioned windowed, seventeenth century Glebe House, one of several of similar date, including the former Rectory, Swiers Farm and the village's only pub, the early eighteenth century Miner's Arms, which is noted for its excellent fare and from where cycle hire is also available.
The village school (Carsington and Hopton Primary School, with around 50 pupils) is just one of the many legacies endowed by the remarkable Gell family, Lords of the manor of Hopton since the fifteenth century, and owner occupiers long before that.
The family seat of Hopton Hall, which lies along the road between the two villages is basically Elizabethan and was built by Anthony Gell, who also famously endowed the grammar school at Wirksworth which still bears his name in 1576. The hall was `Georganised' by his great grandson Philip Gell around 1780, who added the Venetian windows, central pediment, and was also responsible for the elegant brick crinkle-crankle wall which runs alongside the main road, completely obscuring the hall from view. The current owners have restored the gardens and grounds and open them to the public during the whole of February for the Snowdrop Garden.
Kirk Ireton is a very attractive village, built predominantly of local sandstone, nestling on hillside 4 miles south of Wirksworth.
As a historically agricultural village, many of the former farm buildings have now been adapted into houses with much of the older part of the village dating back to the 17th century.
One of the oldest buildings in the village is the renowned Barley Mow pub and the village has its own community shop offering a wide range of groceries for locals and visitors.
Kirk Ireton's Holy Trinity Church (originally St Lawrence's) dates back to Norman times and the village still celebrates a Wakes week whereby a procession of villagers is led by a local brass band, from the Barley Mow pub to the church for thanksgiving, along with lots of fun and games too!
The village school, Kirk Ireton C of E Primary, with around 50 pupils, was graded "outstanding" in its most recent Ofsted inspection (2006).
Turnditch is a lovely hillside village lying in the beautiful Amber Valley between Belper and Ashbourne, and approximately 10 miles north of Derby. Properties in the village are often blessed with fantastic views and are within easy reach of some of the most beautiful countryside walks in the area.
Turnditch has a thriving community feel with its own very highly regarded primary school, church, village hall and 2 pubs, both of which serve food. Having opened in 2011, Antony Andrews shop has been a valuable addition to the village, which, though primarily a butchers sells a wide range of groceries alongside fresh milk, bread and eggs.
Turnditch C of E Primary School which first took pupils in 1846, was graded "Outstanding" in the most recent Ofsted inspection (Feb 2012) and described as "an exceptional jewel of a school", with 81 pupils currently on its roll.
The village hall forms the social centre of the community and is extremely well used with a playgroup, toddler group, dance school, bowls club, art group, W.I., yoga class and table tennis group amongst the activities operating out of the premises.
The Turnditch and Windley Show is a big summer event in the Parish and is quite an occasion for Turnditch and its neighbouring village, Windley, whose combined population is just over 400. The show has grown enormously in size since the Turnditch and Windley W.I. started it in a modest way, many years ago.