Designated the UK’s first National Park, The Peak District sits at the base of the Pennines, with one foot in the North and the other in the Midlands. The Peak District is an area of outstanding national beauty. It attracts visitors the world over who come to enjoy the scenery and take breathtaking walks across the landscape. Spectacular valleys, crystal-clear rivers, wild-flower meadows, wooded vales, sweeping moorland, reservoirs, waterfalls – The Peak District has it all. Including some of the prettiest villages England has to offer. My favourite being that of Ashford-in-the-Water.
Nested on the banks of the River Wye, Ashford is one of the most picture perfect villages in the Peak District. The village of Ashford got its name from two old Saxon English words aesc (ash trees) and ford (a river crossing) as it is as it always has been, a place where ash trees grow around a ford over the Wye on an ancient route known as the Portway.
Ashford has a wonderful medieval sheepwash bridge, built across the ancient ford in the river. Sheep were once driven into the enclosing at the side of the bridge before being thrown into the river to be washed before shearing. This bridge is one of the most photographed in Britain and has been named by the national tourist board Visit England as the best location in the country to play Poohsticks. Winnie the Pooh’s favourite game of floating sticks on rivers is ideal to play here in Ashford.
The waters of the River Wye are crystal clear and draped with curtains of weeping willow, ideal to sit under on a hot day and enjoy a picnic. Afterwards, take an idyllic stroll through the village and surrounding countryside. We did just that at the weekend whilst we had a bank holiday here in England. There is a wonderful tearooms in the village and we also found the children’s playground which little Heidi loved. If tearooms and playgrounds aren’t quite your bag, there is a restaurant and pub to while away the afternoon in. Especially on a sunny day in the beer garden! On our visit we also happened to find that it was Well Dressing season.
What Is The Ashford-In-The-Water Well Dressing?
Ashford is famous for its Well Dressings and flower festival which usually happens at the end of May each year around Trinity Sunday. The custom of well dressing is almost exclusive to Derbyshire and is only found in the countyside. Well Dressing is best described as the art of decorating wells with pictures made from flowers, leaves and other natural materials from the surrounding countryside. If you would like to read more detail about the work and craftsmanship that goes into decorating the wells, click here.
There are various ideas as to the origins of well dressing. One being that it is thought to have originated in pagan times as a form of thanking the water gods for clean water. Another being that this tradition dates back to the 14th century following the survival of the Black Death, which villagers attributed to the purity of the water in their wells and have celebrated them ever since. Tissington village, about a half hours drive south is also worth visiting to see the Well Dressings. Their well dressings usually attract up to 50,000 visitors a year! Read more about Tissington here.
How To Get To Ashford-In-The-Water
Ashford in located just off the A6, about 2 miles out from Bakewell, Derbyshire.
Car is by far the best option to reach this village, however parking is limited. The village car park is very small (and has toilet facilities) but on busy days like when we visited, on this occasion the adjacent field was open to allow for extra visitors to view the wells.
Bus is also an option. Every day there is at least 1 service per hour from Bakewell and Buxton; hourly services from Derby; every 2 hours from Manchester and Tideswell (with some journeys extending to Castleton if you fancied a journey to another of my favourite Peak Villages – read my post here); 3 services per day from Sheffield.
If you have the time on your journey, Bakewell would also be an ideal place to visit as it is only two miles down the road. A couple miles further south is the villages of Tissington and Milldale. Find my guide to Tissington here and Milldale here to read more about these gorgeous villages as they are well worth a visit. Or perhaps you would prefer to venture further into the Dark Peak area on the Peak District. In which case I can’t recommend Castleton highly enough. To read more on that village and what to do there please click here.
Where To Stay In Ashford-In-The-Water
The Rutland Arms Hotel | Fancy spending a night in a room where Jane Austen herself stayed? The Rutland Arms in Bakewell is where Austen stayed in 1811 when she visited Derbyshire. It is during her stay here that it is believed she revised her manuscript of “Pride and Prejudice” after visiting the stunning Chatsworth House which is the background for ‘Pemberley’ and used Bakewell as the small market town of ‘Lambton’. For those interested, she stayed on the middle floor of the hotel in the leftmost corner room with windows overlooking Rutland Square to the front and Matlock Street to the side. To check prices and availability, or get more details click here.
A Boutique Cottage In The Heart of Ashford | If you would prefer to enjoy the cosyness of a traditional English cottage then look no further. Recently renovated and full redecorated in 2017, this gorgeous property is perfectly located within the heart of the village and ideal for exploring further into the Peak District. To take a peek inside and find prices and availability click here. To take a look at all the properties available in and around Ashford, hop over to airbnb.co.uk and use my link to get £25 off your first trip. A great way to get your holiday started.
What do you think? Is Ashford worthy of a visit??
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