Bakewell is in the beautiful Derbyshire Dales, a market town known for its ‘Bakewell Pudding.’ It’s a picture-perfect place with a relaxed atmosphere where you can enjoy walks beside the River Wye.
As you might imagine, it does get extremely busy, especially on market days and weekends, but this still doesn’t spoil its friendly feeling. Dogs are especially welcome, which Bandit and I quickly discovered when we encountered a whole assortment of dogs and their friendly owners.
We took a truly delightful riverside walk beside the River Wye, through the recreation ground and onwards towards the Love Lock Bridge. We started with a tasty and refreshing whippy ice cream from an ice cream van at the park, and, of course, I shared my ice cream with Bandit too.
The River Wye
The River Wye is a limestone river that flows 22 miles in length through the Derbyshire Peak District. It’s one of the major tributaries of the River Derwent, which flows into the River Trent, and ultimately into the Humber and the North Sea.
As it weaves its way through Bakewell it creates such picturesque views and makes for a calm place to wind down, especially after a day of exploration in the town. It’s rather shallow in places and if you look carefully you might see some freshwater trout.
Love Lock Bridge
Thousands of ‘love locks’ have been locked onto what is now known as Love Lock Bridge since 2012.
For over a decade, the footbridge over the River Wye has been a romantic tourist attraction in the town of Bakewell. Couples come from far and wide to attach their inscribed padlocks to the bridge in celebration of their love. Others use this opportunity to celebrate a loved one lost.
In April 2021, the local Derbyshire county council announced that essential maintenance to the footbridge was needed. In order to do this, they would need to remove the locks.
After a campaign by the locals to save the locks, the council eventually issued a statement saying that work was needed, but that it wasn’t urgent and would be postponed until 2023. This will allow people, the council said, the chance to come and collect their locks.
In the meantime, Love Lock Bridge is still one of Bakewell’s most romantic tourist attractions.
This is the birthplace of the Bakewell tart or pudding. There is much conjecture over the true origins of the Bakewell Tart and the Bakewell Pudding. Most sources agree that it was a pudding that was first mistakenly baked by Mrs Greaves, the mistress of the White Horse Inn in Bakewell. Mrs Greaves asked her cook to pour a mixture into pastry cases and then add jam, but the cook added the jam first in error. The result was so good that the recipe stuck.
It is said that this happened around 1820 although some believe it was as late as 1860. Either way, the recipe has been closely adhered to for over 160 years and remains a closely guarded secret.
What is a Bakewell Tart?
The Bakewell tart is an English confection which consists of a shortcrust pastry shell beneath layers of jam, frangipane, and a topping of flaked almonds. It is a variant of the Bakewell pudding.
Some Bakewell tarts, depending on how you like them, are iced on top with a cherry. The difference between a tart and a pudding is that a tart has a short crust pastry and a pudding has a puff pastry.
While exploring the area I decided to buy a Bakewell pudding to take back home. Bandit and I went to the Bakewell Tart Shop on the main road. Of course, dogs are not allowed in a food establishment and I had noone on hand to look after him.
The lady who served me from the till near the door took and delivered my order directly from the doorstep. She was extremely friendly and helpful, and I’m sure many dog owners would be as surprised as I to receive such service from the lovely people at the Bakewell Tart Shop.
Bakewell was once called Baedeca’s wella, which meant Baedeca’s Springs. It is believed that this would surely have been a person, most likely a Saxon, who settled beside the warm springs which rose at Bakewell where the limestone meets shale. It has also been mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which was a kind of national diary, in 924.
Edward the Elder
Edward the Elder ordered a fort to be built at Bakewell at this time which gave the town recognition throughout England because of his presence. He is best known for his conquest of England south of the Humber after the Viking invasions, but, according to the Chronicle, all those who resided in Northumbria who were English, Danish and Norse, chose Edward as their Lord due to his prowess from building the fort.
The parish church at Bakewell also dates from the 10th century (although most of the building is Medieval and it was restored in 1841). Curiously at the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 Bakewell had two priests.
In the 13th century, the people of Bakewell were allowed to hold weekly markets. (In those days there were very few shops, unlike the current town, and if you wished to buy or sell anything you had to go to market). As a result, it soon became a flourishing little market town.
Bakewell was also allowed to hold annual fairs. In those days, fairs were similar to markets but they were held only once a year and they attracted buyers and sellers from a broad area. In roughly 1300 a stone bridge was constructed over the River Wye to enable the larger amount of traffic into the town.
The Old House Museum
The Old House Museum is located in the oldest house in Bakewell, which is understood to date from 1534. Holme Packhorse Bridge was built in 1664 and in 1697, and The Duke of Rutland built the Bath House, which was fed by warm springs.
In 1778 Sir Richard Arkwright built Lumford Mill as a cotton-spinning mill. It was damaged by fire in 1868 but it was restored.
Bakewell is located on the A6 midway, between Buxton to the north and Matlock to the south, and served by excellent public transport links. Accessible by Public Transport, Matlock station is just 8 miles away, while Sheffield is roughly 13 miles away.
Parking is available at a variety of long or short stay car parks. Parking information can be found on the Peak District Online website.
The beautiful town of Bakewell is known for many things including its delicious food, especially the Bakewell Tart, along with its many shops and old English Inns.
The town is host to a wide variety of events, markets and fairs throughout the year, including Bakewell’s Agricultural & Horticultural Society Country Festival.
This 3-day event is highly anticipated and is one of the main highlights of the calendar. The Bakewell Country Festival combines an exciting mix of traditional agricultural elements with family activities, entertainment, food, drink, shopping and more. You can even make a weekend of it with a 3-night camping pitch.
One of my favourite activities on this trip was simply enjoying a peaceful walk beside the River Wye with my dog while enjoying a tasty ice cream. I hope I’ve inspired you too.