This site is dedicated to Ashbourne in the county of Derbyshire and the surrounding villages & towns. But now we are under maintenance due to recent technical issues. Thanks for your patience.
Ashbourne is a picturesque small market town situated at the southern tip of the Peak District, famous amongst other things for its annual Shrovetide Football match.
If you are looking to organise something in town, the Ashbourne Town Council would be a good start – I only run this website 🙂 or just can suggest a sister travel website for tours to Turkey or the Ashbourne Town Partnership’s website not us please
Some statistics – Population including the surrounding villages is approx 7,500 people.
Ashbourne – How to get here ? – The nearest main line train station is Derby – (click here for UK train timetable), you can also get more detailed bus and train information from the excellent Derbyshire Public Transport Site.
From Derby or an airport you need to get a bus or taxi to Ashbourne. Its about a 40 minute journey from Derby, buses leave from Derby Bus Station – (get a taxi, bus or walk from the Train Station – (turn right out of the station – 15 minutes walk). Some buses go direct from the station to Ashbourne :-
There are buses from most of the surrounding towns and villages to and from Ashbourne – but usually only every 2 hours or so – often less frequently, often there are no late buses (e.g. last bus from Buxton is around 8 pm). If you are a tourist here you really do need a car or a bike to get around!
Car hire is available locally (see Yellow Pages) or in Derby. Bikes can be hired locally at the start of the Tissington Trail on Mappleton Lane, Ashbourne.
Useful Phone Number – Ashbourne Tourist Information Office – tel 01335 – 343666 – (please note that we have nothing what so ever to do with the Tourist Information Board)
15 things to do around Ashbourne
Ashbourne is a former marketplace of cobbled streets and cultivated Georgian townhouses, one mile from the southern edge of the Peak District National Park.
You couldn’t be in a better position to see the best of Southern White Peak, a green landscape with towering limestone formations.
Dovedale and its grassy ravine is positively idyllic, and like large areas of the local countryside, it is under the care of the National Trust.
For cyclists there is a quick route to the national park via the Tissington Trail, which has bike rental centers on both trails.
There’s a lot to enjoy closer to home, as Ashbourne has dozens of listed buildings that date back to Tudor times, as well as some wacky traditions and two open-air markets that are traded weekly.
Ashbourne is located on the southern edge of the UK’s oldest national park, the Peak District, which was outlined in 1951. While the park’s northern regions are sandstone moors, the central and southern areas are a rippled limestone plateau broken by sudden calcareous valleys.
One of the most beautiful, Dovedale, is just minutes from Ashbourne, and we’ll go into more detail below.
The large prairie is used for grazing, so on each walk you will be in the company of sheep and cattle, and each plot is delimited by a rustic dry stone wall.
From Ashbourne, you can take the Tissington Trail as well as a trail to Thorpe Village, which links to the 46-mile limestone trail, crossing the White Peak.
A spectacular route not on this list is the Manifold Way, between Hulme End and Waterhouses, which is only eight miles from Ashbourne.
This takes you through the majestic Manifold Valley through Thor’s Cave, a karst formation high above the valley floor.
Three miles long from Milldale to the Throrpe Cloud, this valley dug by the River Dove has immense natural beauty and plenty of little details to hunt.
In the wooded ravine at the southern end, the fence is the most photographed element: a set of steps over the water, framed by steep limestone walls, which mark the starting point of the adventure.
The valley has an ancient ash forest, grasslands carpeted with wildflowers in summer, and many intriguing limestone formations.
Lover’s Leap is a promontory reached via steps cut by Italian prisoners of war in World War II, while Viator’s Bridge is a charming packhorse bridge with a narrow crossing that originally had no walls for Horses could pass over the saddlebags.
Check out the recommended hotels in Ashbourne, England
At the southern end of Dovedale you cannot miss this isolated and steep hill between the town of Ilam and Thorpe.
Hikers who need a little more proof than the steps will find their match at this 287-meter peak.
You won’t need much time to reach the top, but the slopes are dizzying in places and require good walking shoes and great care when going down.
This part of the valley is sometimes called “Little Switzerland”, which says everything there is to know on the ground.
You’ll find out why you did the climbing when you’re looking along the high slopes of the valley and across the Midland Plain to the south.
On both sides of the Manifold River, this National Trust park is blessed with sumptuous views of Dovedale.
These 158 acres used to be the estate of Ilam Hall, and have formal Italian gardens, quiet riverside walks, and a cozy teahouse garden.
Ilam Hall dates back to the 16th century, but was completely rebuilt in the 1820s.
In the 1930s, the mansion had been earmarked for demolition, but it was salvaged halfway when it was purchased by Sir Robert McDougal for the National Trust on the condition that it become a youth hostel (a role it maintains until the present day). Upon arrival at the park you can pick up a brochure showing the path of a one mile circular trail next to the room and along the river.
Spend time in the tea room, where local produce like Derbyshire tealoaf and oatmeal cakes are prepared.
Hailed as one of the UK’s largest restoration mansions, Sudbury Hall was designed to showcase the best of late 17th century craftsmanship.
Touring the house you will fall in love with the ornamental plaster and the ceiling paintings.
The most prominent room is the 51-meter long Gallery, an unusual feature for a house from the reign of Charles II. This one has a plaster masterpiece, and the National Trust has established places where you can lie down to properly appreciate the ceiling.
There is a prettier plaster on the Grand Staircase, while the Living Room is adorned with wood carvings by master carver Grinling Gibbons.
The Victorian servants’ wing houses the National Trust Museum of Childhood, which has a collection of super antique toys and a Victorian classroom.
You will be reminded that childhood was very short in the past, when you enter a mine and climb a chimney.
Old Grammar School
Although Ashbourne is a good starting point to reach the top of White Peak and to discover the wonders of the local National Trust, you do have to spend a few hours looking around the city.
There are more than 200 listed buildings on these streets, from former coaching inns to elegant townhomes and converted charities.
A monument to appreciate from the outside is the Old Grammar School (1603), a sublime Elizabethan building saved from demolition by the Derbyshire Archaeological Society and now private homes.
The best of Ashbourne’s townhomes is the “Mansion” on Church Street.
Completed in 1685, the building has a Georgian facade and was visited for much of the 18th century by famous man of letters Dr. Samuel Johnson.
St Oswald’s Church
Ashbourne has a charming parish church topped by a 65 meter spire that was praised by George Eliot as the “Best Single Spire in England”. The church was consecrated in 1241, and surprisingly there is a bronze panel commemorating this date.
With a Latin inscription from Hugh de Pateshull, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, this dedication can be found in the chapel on the south side of the building.
The north and south transept have chapels for eminent families in the area.
In the north transept is the poignant Boothby monument, carved out of Carrara marble in the 18th century by sculptor Thomas Banks for Penelope Boothby, who died in childhood.
The church has splendid stained glass windows designed by Victorian and Edwardian teachers such as Charles Eamer Kempe and Christopher Whall.
A hive of activity in summer, Carsington Water is a 35,412-megaliter reservoir fed by the Derwent River.
This body of water was under construction for more than two decades, and was finally inaugurated by Elizabeth II in 1992. For tourists, the main port of call will be Carsington Sport and Leisure, which rents kayaks, canoes, windsurfing, dinghy sailing boats , rowboats, as well as bicycles to navigate the circular trail.
This route will take you through a bird hideout where you can stop to watch waterfowl and long-legged birds such as grebes, common red grebes, and Eurasian oystercatchers.
Carsington Water also has a visitor center with a store and a cafeteria that has a large deck overlooking the lake.
Without a car, the easiest route to get to the Peak District from Ashbourne is the 13-mile bike path, the trail, and the bridle path that begins on the outskirts of town.
The trail follows the railroad route like the one that once linked Ashbourne to Buxton, but was abandoned in the 1960s.
There are some test climbs, especially near the start of the trail where a viaduct has been removed, leaving 1: 9 slopes. Any effort will be rewarded with breathtaking views, especially further north, towards the trail entrance at Parsley Hay.
At both ends of the trail there are gas and bike rental stations, while Hartington has converted an old signal box into an information center, open on weekends and holidays.
A walk on the Tissington Trail begins unforgettably in the 350 meter long Ashbourne Tunnel.
This is a fairly recent addition to the route, as it was purchased and renovated by Sustrans, the sustainable transportation organization, after the trail was created.
Near the old train station, the tunnel takes you most of the time out of town without having to deal with traffic.
The tunnel is well lit and its surface has been retrofitted for bicycles.
Something that may surprise you is the speaker system that occasionally recreates the sound of an oncoming train.
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These beautiful and diverse gardens are located on the outskirts of the village of Brailsford, about 7 miles southeast of Ashbourne.
Gardener Craig Dalton’s personal project, Burrows Gardens opens to the public on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays from April to August, as well as select National Garden Scheme open houses.
On five acres is a dazzling array of styles, including Italian, English, and Cornish, all in isolated “rooms” enhanced with rare plants.
Perhaps the most beautiful is the Roman temple garden, with an all-white planting scheme and a reflective pool.
There are statues in all of Burrows Gardens, as well as many wrought iron urns and fountains in surprising places.
Ashbourne Recreation Ground
Bordering the countryside east of Ashbourne city center, the Recreation Ground is a place to be active and relax without straying too far from Ashbourne’s services.
As close as possible to the city center, facing Cokayne Avenue and Park Road, are the ornate formal gardens planted in memory of the city’s war dead, while there is a statue of the Salvation Army co-founder. Catherine Booth, who was born in the city.
There’s a pretty music kiosk in the middle of the gardens, while things get wilder in the east, where you can cross Henmore Brook to explore the Fishpond Meadow.
In the last decade the park has secured the investment of the Heritage Lottery Fund for new playgrounds for children.
Old Manor, Norbury
Another National Trust property, the Old Manor, is located in Norbury, six miles southwest of Ashbourne.
On Friday mornings and Saturday afternoons, in the summer months, you can visit the place.
There is a Medieval Hall, which dates back to the 13th century and features a rare king pole beam, a Tudor door, a medieval fireplace, and 16th century Flemish stained glass windows depicting the changing months and farming activities.
The Medieval Hall shares the place with a beautiful Tudor house, originally from the 15th century, but which was remodeled in 1680. Outside there is a Tudor-style herb flowerbed.
Real Soccer of Carnival
Royal Shrovetide Football is an annual event dating back to 1667 at the latest, and is a two-day football match played on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.
This is soccer as it used to be in the Middle Ages: One half of the city plays against the other, with several thousand people participating.
Goals are set three miles from each other, and the two teams, the “Up’ards” and “Down’ards,” compete in two eight-hour periods.
The ball is made of cork and painted by hand, and the party is a crowd that moves through the streets and open spaces of Ashbourne.
The game is played in a spirit of fun, but things were not always so cordial and there were some attempts to ban the event until the end of the 19th century.
For a little local color, there are two weekly open-air markets in Ashbourne.
The Thursday market takes place on the Paseo de la Cartuja, between the Library and Waitrose, while the Saturday market takes place in the picturesque surroundings of Ashbourne’s cobblestone Market Place.
The city got its market card in 1257, and the tradition is best kept on Saturdays when almost all the stalls are filled.
Visit us to buy flowers, clothes, fruits and vegetables, crafts, yarn, homemade sauces, toys and jewelry.