Gems of Derbyshire – a guide to visiting some of the most underrated villages and towns in this area

Derbyshire is packed with lovely towns and villages, and we've previously published guides about a few of them, including Wirksworth and Matlock.

But there are so many excellent towns and villages in Derbyshire that we wanted to publish a larger guide to highlight some of the places in Derbyshire that we feel are really underrated. Let's get into it:

Whaley Bridge

This town in the High Peak district of Derbyshire has quite a lot to see and do, here are some of the highlights:

Bugsworth Basin

Bugsworth Basin is a canal basin which isn't far from Whaley Bridge. It's hard to believe it now but this was once the largest and busiest inland port on the narrow canal system and it's the only one which has remained intact. Here you'll find a reproduction tramway wagon and a number of information boards that explain how the basin used to look and the purpose it served.


Goyt Valley

Whaley Bridge sits near the Goyt Valley, an area which is packed with amazing walking routes to follow. One of the best starts at Whaley Bridge and heads to Taxal, taking you past Taxal Church.

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This village in the east of Hope Valley is a great place to visit if you want to visit a range of independent shops and places to eat. Here are some of the best things to see and do in Hathersage:

Stanage Edge

The Peak District has some stunning natural formations, and we think that Stanage Edge to the North of Hathersage is one of the most impressive to visit. It's technically known as a "gritstone escarpment", which is essentially just a rock edge. Stanage Edge is around 4 miles long and provides amazing views of the Dark Peak moorlands and the Hope Valley. You'll often find people climbing here, but even if you're not willing to dangle off the edge on a rope (we don't blame you), it's still a lovely place for a walk. Learn more here -


Little John's Grave

If you're a fan of the Robin Hood stories then you might be surprised to find what is believed to be Little John's grave in Hathersage. Although most people associate Nottingham with Robin Hood and his merry men, many of his adventures took place in Derbyshire as it is said that he was from Loxley, which is just a short distance from Hathersage. Little John's headstone is in the graveyard of Saint Michael’s church, and the grave is especially large which definitely indicates that someone of Little John's stature is buried there. It's fun to visit and fans of Robin Hood will definitely enjoy visiting this interesting piece of history.


Hathersage Swimming Pool

Public outdoor swimming pools are quite hard to come by in the UK, but the Hathersage Swimming Pool is an excellent outdoor pool which is well worth a visit. The pool water is heated and the temperature of the water is usually around 27C, so even though it's outside it's still actually quite warm and pleasant, even during the winter months. The pool is surrounded by lovely scenery and it's just a really enjoyable place to go for a swim.


North Lees Hall

This impressive Grade II building isn't open to the public currently, but you can still visit the house and admire it from the outside. The oldest parts of the building date from the late 16th century, and given how old areas of the building are such as the barn and the outhouses, they're in remarkable condition. The house has quite a secluded position near Birley Lane, and from the house you can enjoy amazing views of the surrounding countryside. It is said that North Lees Hall helped to inspire Charlotte Bronte to write Jane Eyre, and that the author visited the house several times as she was writing the book. It's also said that Thornfield Hall in the novel is based on North Lees Hall.

David Mellor Design Museum

David Mellor is one of the biggest names in the world of British designers, and you'll almost certainly have seen an example of his work previously. There is a museum dedicated to his work just outside Hathersage, and we think that even if you're not a design enthusiast, you'll get a kick out of visiting this museum. David Mellor was known as the 'cutlery king', so much of the museum collection is focused around his cutlery designs. There is also a really interesting outdoor street scene display which showcases some of Mellor's furniture designs. Cutlery is still made here and it's really interesting to see the process. Learn more here -


Longshaw Estate

Longshaw is an area of 1600 acres which is owned and managed by the National Trust, and which is an amazing area for walking. Here you'll find all sorts of different environments to explore, including moor, gritstone edges, and woodland areas. The views over the Derwent Valley are stunning and you could easily spend several hours exploring the area. There is also a cafe here which is excellent and the perfect place to grab some soup and a sandwich after a good walk. Learn more here -


This village at the head of the Hope Valley is an excellent place to base yourself if you're looking to explore the Peak District National Park. You'll also find a number of interesting things to see and do within the village itself, here are some of the highlights:

Peveril Castle

Built in the 12th century, Peveril Castle is one of England's earliest Norman fortresses and is well worth a visit during your time in Castleton. The castle might be ruinous, but we feel that it still has a real presence to it, especially from its position on a hill above the village. You'll find a really informative visitor centre at the castle, plus some really interesting features of the castle which are still intact, such as the garderobe (aka the toilet!). The views across the Peak District from the castle make the trip up the hill well worth the effort. Learn more here -


Peak Cavern

The Peak Cavern (also known as the Devil's Arse!) is one of the four show caves in Castleton, and probably the most famous of the 4. Peak Cavern is actually in the gorge below Peveril Castle, so it makes for an excellent double visit if you have the time. This is a cave which has been used throughout history for multiple purposes, including being used by rope makers and by bandits to store their loot. The cave is impressive to admire from the outside (especially the entrance, which is the largest natural cave entrance in the British Isles), but if you're not claustrophobic then a trip inside the cave is highly recommended - you can get a guided tour for just £19 per adult (£11 for  a child), and the tours are fantastic. You can even attend a Christmas carol event in the cave, which is really special to experience. Learn more and book your visit here -


Speedwell Cavern

Another of the amazing caves to visit near Castleton is Speedwell Cavern, which many people actually find that they prefer to Peak Cavern. It's certainly quite a different visiting experience - because the cave is partly submerged in water, you need to get into a boat to visit it properly. And if you thought Peak Cavern was bad for claustrophobics then be prepared for how cramped Speedwell Cavern can feel at points! It's hard to believe that this was used as a lead mine in the 18th century and that hundreds of men were in and out of this cave every day. The tour will last for around 1 hour and will take you to some amazing parts of the cave, including the cavern which looks like a cathedral, and the Bottomless Pit (pictured), which is a subterranean lake. Learn more and plan your visit here -


Blue John Cavern

Named because of the Blue John stones which were mined here, the Blue John Cavern is often regarded as the best-looking of all the caverns in Castleton. You'll find a number of striking features inside this cave, including the Waterfall Cavern and Lord Mulgrave's Dining Room. Learn more here -


St. Edmund’s Church

This 19th-century church is worth a visit even if you're not religious - not only is it a very peaceful place to visit, but it's also a very well-made building with original Norman features.

We hope this guide inspires you to visit Derbyshire! If you want to learn more about amazing parts of England, we have a guide about the Cotswolds and a guide about Yorkshire.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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