Peak District Buxton Town Guide
Guide to Buxton
Buxton is a truly beautiful old market and spa town in the very heart of the Peak District. It's affectionately called the Capital of the High Peak and can also boast being the highest town in the whole of England. It's full to bursting with Peak District cottages, hotels and bed-and-breakfasts and is a great base to explore the rest of the glorious Peak District. You've probably already heard all about Buxton because of its very famous water - it's sold bottled, all over the country and abroad. The pale blue, crystal clear water bubbles all the way underneath Buxton. Both visitors and residents can fill their empty bottles straight from a natural thermal spring, which bubbles up under the 18th century circular baths, aptly named The Crescent. The water also fills the public swimming pool! It's great to fill up for the week if you are camping in the Peak District.
Buxton is on the boundary between the grit stone and limestone areas of the Peak District - the Dark Peak and the White Peak, with the River Wye meandering through a gorge flowing underneath the town. The warm waters provided a place of pilgrimage in the past and has been visited by royalty over the years (Mary Queen of Scots visited Buxton to sample the warm waters of the baths because it helped her with her rheumatism). There are so many stunning villages neighbouring Buxton, but it is also a great place to set off on hundreds of walks which start from the town. It is certainly a mix of shopping, hustle and bustle, but there are certainly many opportunities to escape from it all and simply take off into the countryside.
Buxton is quite unique looking as far as peak district villages go. Along with The Crescent, the town has lots of stunning architecture, making the town a magical place to stay or visit for the day. It's quite easy to put yourself back in time and imagine the horse and carriages trotting up Terrace Road.
Buxton Opera House is a must if you get the chance. It's recently been restored to its original Victorian splendour and hosts a very full season of musical events, as well as operas throughout the year. Many famous comedians list Buxton Opera house in their tour diaries. Here is also the very popular Gilbert and Sullivan event which occurs annually, along with Buxton Festival, which is the largest 'Fringe' style festival in England. The festival includes concerts and recitals, literary events, drama, films, dance and music and other cultural events along the same sort of lines as Edinburgh Fringe but on a smaller scale. This takes place every July and August and coincides with Buxton's well dressing and carnival procession. It's a great time of year to visit if you can make it, with lots of pubs in Buxton open all hours, to celebrate along with you.
The stunning Pavilion Gardens should also be on your to-do list while you are here. The 23 acres of manicured gardens, with their boating lake, bandstand, putting greens, paddling pools and the quaint miniature railway, have shaded walks beneath old mature trees to get away from the heat - If we're lucky enough to have an Indian summer. But at any time in the summer, the borders are filled to bursting with a rainbow coloured carpet of annual and bedding plants - it's a great place if you're interested in gardening. A miniature Crystal Palace, the Pavilion itself, incorporates a restaurant, cafe, conservatory and lounge and is another building , which immediately evokes Buxton's colourful history, but letting the modern day shopper get their breath back and enjoyed a little peace and quiet for a time. The glass and iron structure is home to a variety of native and tropical plants and a great place to wander about in if the weather is inclement. It also hosts regular arts, crafts, antiques and jewellery fairs. All are great places to take a rest from all the shopping you will want to do.
Shopping in Buxton is very varied and centres around the Cavendish shopping arcade, which is built over the River Wye, just off the Spring Gardens. There are shops galore, with cafes and bars littered around the town for respite. Spring Gardens is pedestrianised and has a wide range of shops from Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, but has a lot of specialist designer boutiques. Cavendish arcade has a vibrant mix of fashion, antiques, second-hand bookshops and craft shops. Buxton's market is every Tuesday and Saturday with traders selling their wares, proving it's a great little town to find a gift for those hard to buy for people we all know.
Buxton history is featured heavily in the museum and art gallery in Higher Buxton, which is where the marketplace is situated. This was traditionally the heart of the town and along with the geology and archaeology of the area, there is a brilliant display featuring the history of the Peak District in the Wonders of the Peak time tunnel. The gallery hosts regular exhibitions of local artists and as well as all the new art it has a collection of 19th and 20th century paintings to see all year round. There are several craft and other shops in this area which you will notice splits Buxton town into two halves, each half separated by the steep Terrace Road. On one side there is the Slopes, a very pleasant grassy hill which has crisscrossed path and benches and again is a fantastic place if the weather is nice, to sit and survey the town below.
Poole's Cavern is a major attraction to the west of the town and is a huge natural limestone cave, known to have been inhabited by primitive man. It's a very impressive sight to see and one that will impress the children in the holidays. There is also a country park with footpaths leading to Solomon's Temple on Grin Low. If you fancy a half mile walk, it provides superb views over beautiful Buxton.