One of Derbyshire’s finest old market towns, Ashbourne has a medieval street pattern and historic buildings that have in many ways changed little since the 18th century. The cobbled market place, hidden alleys and yards are a joy to explore, and the wide and elegant Church Street is considered to be the finest street of Georgian buildings in Derbyshire. The town is also famed for its independent shops – from antique emporia to craft galleries to designer fashion boutiques.
The only market town within the Peak District National Park boundary, Bakewell boasts a fine church spire and grand old houses such as the Old Town Hall and South Church Street’s almshouses. Spanning the River Wye, its ancient five-arched bridge is much painted by artists. The Old House Museum occupies one of the oldest buildings in Bakewell and dates back to 1543. It gives a fascinating glimpse into the town’s past. Market Day is on Monday, when the town is at its busiest.
The Romans were attracted to Buxton’s site by the warm springs which emerge near the River Wye with a constant temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. Calling the settlement Aquae Arnemetie, they built baths here and for centuries these springs were a major source of income and status for the town. The fifth Duke of Devonshire gave Buxton its next boost with development including the stunning Georgian crescent which is its centrepiece. The Pavilion Gardens, Winter Gardens and Opera House are major attractions today, and a steady tide of visitors fuel a vibrant café and shopping culture.
Leek is a traditional market town on the edge of the Peak District National Park in Staffordshire. Browsing the markets and boutiques is the classic visitor pastime here, but the historic buildings are also gems. St Edward Street mixes smart red-brick townhouses with Tudor mansions and quaint cottages, while the museum Brindley’s Mill gives a glimpse of the mechanics and muscle that made the picturesque facades possible.
The traditional market town of Uttoxeter has thriving weekly outdoor markets every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in the Market Place. Meanwhile the Town Hall hosts indoor craft and produce markets every Wednesday and once a month on a Saturday. It is also home to Uttoxeter Racecourse which hosts 24 meetings throughout the year and special events such as concerts, antique fairs and themed days.