A Brief History of Bakewell
Does Bakewell pudding come to mind? Bakewell tart? Well this is the place where it all began! The Derbyshire town of Bakewell is where the world famous Bakewell pudding was first created, by accident nonetheless. But more about that later.
Dating back to 10th century Anglo-Saxon times, Bakewell is an old market town with the River Wye running through it. From 1254, traders were allowed to exchange goods at a market here and as such, the town flourished. This led to annual fairs where the market was held on a larger scale with people coming from far and wide. To this day, a popular market is held on Mondays where you can buy local and support farmers and traders.
A glorious five arch stone bridge, now Grade I listed, was built around this time to cater for the growing number of people and traffic. Since then, cotton mills dominated the area in the 18th century providing employment and accommodation in cottages for its workers.
Nowadays, Bakewell bustles with both tourists and locals alike. Its history, preserved in beautiful old buildings and cottages, adds to the charm and character of this picturesque little town. Whether you’re in Bakewell for just a day or longer, there is much to see and do.
Top 5 Attractions of Bakewell
The Old Original Bakewell Pudding shop, built in the late 17th century and located in the heart of Bakewell, holds the fascinating history of how this pudding came to be.
It was by accident really. Due to a miscommunication between Mrs Greaves, the mistress of a local inn and her cook, a strawberry tart ended up having an egg mixture spread on top of jam rather than mixed in with the pastry. The result was so popular that Mrs Wilson, tenant of the pudding shop building at that time, acquired this new recipe and began a business baking and selling them. Thus, the infamous bakewell pudding was born and is still handmade to a top secret recipe in that same building today! A trip to Bakewell would not be complete without visiting the Old Original Bakewell Pudding shop and indulging in this and many other delicious treats the shop has to offer.
Meandering through the Peak DIstrict for 15 miles is the beautiful River Wye. The river is typical of an old market town and just adds to the serenity of Bakewell. Take some time out to wander along the riverside and spot the local wildlife against the backdrop of the ancient five arch bridge. The riverside path is accessible with benches so have a seat and soak up the beautiful natural landscape of Bakewell.
The bridge in Bakewell is also well-known for housing thousands of “love locks,” or padlocks, which are placed there as a custom to honour or commemorate relationships that have ended, begun and loved ones lost. In several stores in Bakewell, you may purchase a padlock and have it personalised.
Recently, nevertheless, Derbyshire County Council made the announcement that the locks must be taken out in order to perform maintenance on the bridge. The maintenance work has been delayed until 2023, and the townspeople are collaborating with the council to consider moving the locks temporarily while repairs are made with the intention of replacing them permanently on the bridge or another long-term structure in the town.
Housed within beautiful old stone buildings are a variety of local independent shops from antiques to gifts, whiskey to local produce and clothing. There’s something for everyone and for every occasion.
Bakewell also hosts the largest market in the Derbeyshire Dales on Mondays from 9am-4pm. You can find everything and anything in this traditional market, located between Market Street and Granby Road in the town centre, so come along and see what you can pick up.
Bakewell Bath Gardens
The Bakewell Bath Gardens consist of beautifully manicured lawns, stunning flower beds, shrubs and trees and is situated right in the centre of the town. You’ll also find a war memorial, a Garden of Remembrance and a bowling green (for members only). Interestingly, the gardens date back to Roman times when a thermal bath was created and sourced from nearby mineral springs. A bath house was then built in 1697 and was used until 1767 at which point the larger and more modern baths in Buxton became favoured. So, after a busy day exploring the old market town of Bakewell, take some time to rest on a bench and absorb the beauty and calmness of Bakewell’s Bath Gardens.
Bakewell Old House Museum
Containing original artefacts spanning the last 500 years, this museum showcases Bakewell’s captivating local history. The house was built in 1534 as a tax collector’s house and was occupied by Christopher Plant, a Tudor tithe collector (overseeing the collection of one tenth of produce people owed to the church). The house was then made bigger in Elizabethan times and even had a Garderobe, an indoor toilet. In 1777, Sir Richard Arkwright, who famously invented the modern factory system during the industrial revolution, converted the house into 5 cottages for mill workers. By the 1950s, the Old House wasn’t suitable to be lived in and was luckily saved from demolition by the Bakewell & District Historical Society who then converted it into the museum it is today.
The Bakewell Old House Museum is open from 11am-4pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays between March and November. Ticket prices for Bakewell Old House Museum: Adult £6.50, Child (aged 5-16) £4, Child (under 5) Free, Derbyshire Day Out Discount Scheme 2023 Adult ticket: £5.50. The museum is located at the top of Cunningham Place, just a short walk from the town centre. The Old House Museum is definitely a must see attraction in Bakewell!
How to Get to Bakewell
How to Get to Bakewell by Car
Bakewell is very accessible by car with large A roads leading to the town from the major motorways across the country. There are many pay & display car parks to choose from.
5 car park options in Bakewell:
Bakewell Bridge Car Park is open 24/7 and is convenient for the town centre and main attractions. Its address is Coombes Road, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1BU.
Smith Island Car Park, off Coombes Road has short-stay (2 hour limit) and long stay (until 6pm) spaces. Its address is Coombes Road, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1BU (take the next right after Bakewell Bridge car park).
Granby Road Car Park is also near the town centre but can get crowded on market days. Its address is Granby Road, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1ES.
Market Place Car Park is a smaller car park for short stays. Conveniently next to the Co-op supermarket but can get busy, especially on market days. Its address is Market Place, Market Street, Derbyshire Dales, DE45 1HA.
New Street Car Park, behind the Castle Pub, has very limited spaces, suitable possibly for a quick stop. Its address is New Street, Derbyshire Dales, DE45 1DW.
How to Get to Bakewell by Train
Matlock, Chesterfield and Buxton are the nearest train stations to Bakewell. From these stations, you can get local buses to Bakewell. See How to Get to Bakewell by Bus for more details below.
How to Get to Bakewell by Bus
From the nearest train stations to Bakewell (see How to Get to Bakewell by Train above), there are regular and frequent bus services to Bakewell. The Transpeak bus goes hourly to and from Matlock and Buxton to Bakwell. The 6.1 bus also goes hourly to and from Matlock to Bakewell. The 170 bus goes hourly to and from Chesterfield to Bakewell.
Final Thoughts on Bakewell
Bakewell is the perfect destination for either a day trip or weekend stay. It is a typical quaint English market town with the right mixture of past and present. The town boasts ancient architecture alongside independent shops, a bustling market, beautiful gardens and a calm riverside. You can also explore Bakewell’s local history via the Bakewell Pudding Shop and the Old House Museum. There really is so much Bakewell has to offer for all its visitors.
Map of Bakewell attractions and car parks
Bakewell Visitor Centre
Bakewell tourist information center and Peak District Photography Gallery (upstairs)
Address: The Old Market Hall, Bridge St, Bakewell DE45 1DS