For the outdoor enthusiast Bakewell must seem like heaven on earth. Because it is the only major town in the Peak District National Park, it is the ideal base from which to enjoy a whole host of open-air activities.
If you wish to explore the area on foot there are simply dozens of walks, all centred on the town, and to suit all capabilities, from a flat path along the river bank for those who prefer a gentle stroll admiring the scenery, to more gruelling and taxing routes in the surrounding hills and dales – such as the challenging Monsal Trail.
One of the most popular walks takes you through high pastures and woodland returning along the Monsal Trail to Bakewell’s former railway station. The scenery is stunning and you also take in places of great historic interest, such as ‘The Moatless Plantation‘ which stands on a circular site and was probably a meeting place in Saxon times; Manners Wood, which divides the Chatsworth and Rutland Estates; and Haddon Hall, a medieval manor house, which was the home of the Manners family until 1640.
The Monsal Trail is where the local cycle hire centre is based from which runs four miles of well-laid track. There is one particularly lovely short ride which first follows the Monsal Trail through the Derbyshire countryside, offering splendid views of the River Wye and the Peak District, before returning to Bakewell via Ashford in the Water.
In addition there are country lanes and bridleways in abundance – a cyclist’s paradise. An even stiffer physical and mental challenge is provided by the gritstone peaks north of Bakewell.
The gritstone peaks have become a mecca for rock climbers with their routes of escalating difficulty, culminating in the White Peak, which has even steeper rock faces and fewer cracks in which to gain a hand or foot hold. Climbing has become extremely popular in the peak district and Bakewell is the perfect base for a climbing holiday.
Equestrian lovers are also well catered for at Edwin Mosley’s Haddon House Stud at Monyash Road, Over Haddon, which is just a couple of miles outside Bakewell. Visitors are also more than welcome at Bakewell Golf Club, situated on the hillside to the east of the town. Founded in 1899 it has a testing nine-hole/18-tee course and green fees are moderately priced, although slightly dearer at weekends.
Thornbridge Outdoor Centre is run by Sheffield City Council and provides outdoor education for schools, activities for groups, training courses, an event venue, management training and accommodation for weekends in the Peak District.