Solomon’s Temple with its superior views and a place for a splendid picnic, is one way to introduce you to one of Buxton’s landmark locations and a wonderful walking area it is too, but then I would be amiss with giving you a round up of the local history.
Grin Low Hill
Grin Low hill dates to the bronze age which I will expand further on at the proper time, there is of course the local Poole caverns, Romans, the limestone quarry industry, and if you look carefully, you can spot the outline of the round lime kilns on the hillside.
Solomon’s Temple, known also as Grinlow tower is a hill marker, built originally by Solomon Mycock and rebuilt by public subscription after a public meeting in 1894, at the time only a few stones remained, and due to the prehistoric importance of the site it was decided to rebuild the tower using sketches provided by W. R. Bryden and G. E.
Garlick architects, the Duke of Devonshire generously put a subscription of £25 towards the construction of the folly, which after its construction in 1896 a-top of Grin hill, a Bronze Age burial ground, now towers above Buxton with views as far as Kinder Scout and Mam Tor in Castleton on a sunny day.
A more recent restoration of the 6.1 metre, (20ft) tower took place again in 1998.
Parking and location
I would say an effective way to make the best of your visit, especially for the first time, would be to park at Poole Caverns country Park and visitor centre, from there you can gain access to much more.
At the visitor centre you can take in the full information of the area, explore the caverns, take a leisurely walk up through the beautiful woodlands and make a full day of it, there is an adventure playground, toilets and even a camp site nearby.
Our spontaneous visit was a shorter, more haphazard affair, but nonetheless fun and enjoyable. There are many differing paths leading up to the summit, where we lingered in the sunshine, admiring the stunning views and with a blanket on the ground, enjoyed a tasty picnic spread to nibble at while we sat and pondered.
On exploring at the summit and climbing up the stairs of Solomon’s Temple to the viewing point, there is the prize, what a sight indeed, I could see for at least fifteen miles or more over town, hills, and moors, spectacular!
History of the area
The Bronze Age burial mounds are very visible across the open land, and Solomon’s Temple tower itself is built on top of a Bronze Age burial mound, a site of ancient significance, which when excavated as part of an archaeological dig, ancient skeletal remains were discovered from the Beaker period as well as Roman artefacts.
Back in time this area would have been strewn with limestone quarries, between the 16th and 19th centuries lime was big industry.
The limestone would have been burnt in the lime kilns to produce lime for use in mortar and for farming. If you survey the land from here, the outline of the lime kilns, or” Pudding pie kilns,” can be easily recognized from the lime industry.
The views at that time would not have been so admirable, if you can imagine the big dusty limestone quarries, the waste heaps on the hillside and the smoke from the kilns, not such a pretty sight, but it was work, and for most a working lifestyle, dangerous and dirty work it was too, but supplied the much in demand lime, to builders and farmers alike.
Buxton’s Roman history
In 1862 an inscribed milestone was discovered in Buxton which is likely the oldest in Derbyshire. Its inscription is Roman and reads, ‘TRIB POT COS ll P P A NAVIONE M P Xl’
The inscription translates as, ‘With the tribune’s power, twice consul, father of this country. From Navio 11 miles. For those who are not aware of the Roman Fort of Navio, it is located near Hope village.
The trail to the Navio Roman Fort can be found in between Hope and Brough in the Hope Valley, the remains of the former fort are very unrecognisable, there a few remaining stones and its elevation and shape show it as a Roman Fort and is still a remarkably interesting place of history. The paths are well labelled as the Navio Roman Fort footpath.
During such a scorching, sunny day we were glad of some delicious, cool shade in the form of woodlands, the dogs too, enjoyed a walk through the sun dappled woodland pathways.
Throughout the woods, there are some well-crafted carvings depicting some of the lime workers and quarry men. Information plaques guide the visitor here and will keep the history alive.
Buxton spa town
Buxton is a spa town in the high peak area of Derbyshire in the UK. The town is just outside the border of the Peak District national park with the county of Staffordshire to the south of it and Cheshire to the west.
Buxton’s famed architecture is mostly a beautiful mix of Georgian and stunning Victorian construction.
In fact, did you know the 5th Duke of Devonshire decided back in the eighteenth century that Buxton should be an unrivalled spa town, even to contend with the famously known spa town of Bath?
Buxton Opera House
Buxton also became noted for its opera house in the pavilion gardens. The architect, known for designing many theatres across the UK including the London Palladium and London Coliseum, Frank Matcham designed the building, and it opened in 1903.
The theatre was a noticeably enormous success with touring companies up until 1927 when it was used as a cinema showing silent movies until 1932 after which the theatre was wired up for sound for the first time and could play what was known as ‘talkies.’
After the second word war the opera house was used again for cinema showings. The building was registered as a Grade ll Listed Building in 1970 and through the seventies it slowly began to fall into disrepair until sadly in 1976 it was closed due to its condition.
It was thought by many people that it would not recover and get back to its former glory. Luckily in 1979 it did get a full renovation and reopened and even had an orchestra pit included. The opera house currently has a seating capacity of 902 seats.
The improvements continue and the theatre is thriving. It has a wide variety of live performances throughout the year including a Christmas pantomime.
If you have a little more time you may be lucky enough to spot some of the wildlife here in this site of special scientific interest, such as a pied fly catcher, a greater spotted woodpecker or a tawny owl amongst the many species of trees, ash, willow, rowan and birch trees to name but a few, the 40 Hectare (100 acre) mature woodland is a real treat in its own right.
Flora and fauna
If you are observant, you may be able to spot some of the beautiful floral species like the marsh orchid, mountain pansy, leopards’ bane, or even the common, pretty little buttercup speckling the hill side.
For us, after a circular up to the summit, views for miles over hills and moors, and a tranquil, woodland trail bringing us back around to Solomon’s Temple, it was time to journey home.
If you like what you see here, you can take a wander up to Buxton’s Landmark and discover the history, the scenery and have a lovely day, as we did.