Mention Bakewell and the word ‘pudding’ immediately springs to mind. Despite all its other many and varied attractions, the small but bustling Derbyshire market town is synonymous with this particular confectionery concoction. Mystery still surrounds its origins. One theory that persists is that the pudding came about purely by accident as a result of a chef at the White Horse Inn – now the Rutland Arms – making a mistake when mixing the ingredients, so that what should have been a tart turned out to be a pudding instead. So good did it taste that it was decided to keep the ‘new’ recipe. Make of that what you will, but the fact remains that this culinary delight has made Bakewell famous world-wide.
So what was that recipe? Take your pick. At least two local shops, ‘Bloomers Old and Only Original’ and ‘The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop’, claim to be sole owners of it. The matter is further complicated by the Bakewell Tart, a totally different commercially-produced confection, which is sold in some areas, and is often confused with the unique Pudding.
Bakewell itself is a fascinating place and its location on the River Wye adds to its considerable appeal. There is so much to see and do it is little wonder that visitors flock to it in great numbers year after year. Surrounded by glorious countryside, the town offers charming tea rooms set in cosy courtyards, impressive stone buildings, a traditional weekly market, a quaint five-arched bridge that goes back to Roman times, a Grade I listed church, a museum, historic almshouses, and various riverside attractions.
You will be ‘tickled pink’ by one of Bakewell’s more unusual features hidden away in one of the medieval courtyards. There, complete with lopsided walls and latticed windows, is the ‘pink building’, a florist’s shop full of character and charm and crying out to be photographed. If you want an area which captures completely the atmosphere of the town then head for King’s Court, another of the secluded squares which litter the cluttered jumble of Bakewell ‘s back streets.
Here you will find a paradoxical, yet harmonious mix of ancient and modern, with bistros and boutiques incongruously sited in historic surroundings. Special events are spread through the year, including the renowned agricultural and horticultural show; well dressing week, which reaches a climax with the annual gala; and an arts festival. On top of all this, as the only town in the Peak District National Park, Bakewell is the ideal centre for outdoor activities such as walking, biking, climbing, golf, and horse riding.