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River Wye

river wye bakewell

 The River Wye is one of the most beautiful rivers in England, passing through the glorious Peak District for a total of 15 miles and meandering through towns and villages, woodland and farmers' fields. Cattle drink from it, herons and anglers fish from it and it is home to an abundance of wildfowl and wild life.

It varies as it goes along, passing beside the busy A6 road, transforming a long, boring journey into a magical one as you spot the shiny diamonds of sparkling water between the trees. It's gentle in most places with stunning little waterfalls cascading gently over limestone boulders. In the Summer, it seems warm and inviting, calm and serene but in winter, after a heavy rainfall, the River Wye can look uncharacteristically ferocious.

It starts off as a tiny source rising on Axe Edge above Buxton, a mere stream just here, where it actually disappears underground for a while.It re-emerges in Poole's Cavern to flow down into the town centre of Buxton via Pavilion Gardens, though there is little to see of the river, still only a stream in Buxton, as when the 5th Duke of Devonshire built The Crescent between 1780 and 1784. He culverted the river to pass beneath the building, and more recently it has been culverted again to pass beneath the Spring Gardens shopping centre. Below Buxton it starts to grow into a sizeable river running through a series of gorges, often deep and narrow, tree lined in places as in Ashwood Dale, with steep cliffs raring up from the sides of the valley as in Cheedale.

It flows in an easterly direction and enters the Peak District just south of Tideswell. The main tributary of the river is the River Lathkill, which enters approximately one mile from its mouth.The limestone that covers the bottom of the River is evident here in the crags and uplands of the White Peak.

If the limestone provides a rich source of nutrients which then leads to an abundance of insects, invertebrates , such as freshwater shrimps and other wildlife. The waters are crystal clear and extremely clean, making it a fantastic River to fish in. There are large numbers of wild brown trout, rainbow trout and Grayling, which feed on the abundance of insectlife. It is possible to see the trout from the banks on a warm summer's day, but if you are looking to be spending a day in one of the gorgeous Peak District villages which has its own bridge looking over, you will see the trout in abundance below your feet .The river is frequently stocked in places for syndicates, hotels and others who pay for the fly fishing there.

The River then gathers pace a little and rushes under the infamous packhorse bridge at Ashford in the Water, called Sheep Wash Bridge which is both picturesque and ancient. It was originally a medieval packhorse bridge and it is only until recently, that sheep were washed here prior to shearing. The lambs would be penned within the stone-walled pen on one side of the river, whilst the mothers would be thrown in at the other side. They would naturally swim across to their offspring, thus ensuring a good soaking, where it is quite wide and full of glossy green river weed.

It continues on to Bakewell, the home of the infamous Bakewell pudding. It treks under the famous the 13th century bridge with 5 gothic arches of Bakewell bridge and winds through the countryside, saluting the gentry at Haddon Hall, before meeting the River Derwent at Caudwell's Mill in Rowsley, powering the mill wheels which once ground flour in the Victorian era.

Where the Wye joins the Derwent is a sight to behold, and it flows on to the River Trent and ultimately into the Humber and the North Sea beyond.

It's possible to have a pleasant walk alongside much of the length of the River Wye, which also follows the route of an abandoned railway line, part of which today is the Monsal Trail at Monsaldale, flowing under the drama that is the viaduct high above. The views from up here are spectacular. The Wye passes several mills, notably Litton Mill and Cressbrook Mill in Miller's Dale before entering Monsal Dale where the valley widens out, though remains steep sided.

Along its banks live the country's largest population of water voles, which can often be seen either swimming across or sitting on the lush green banks, preening their whiskers. The River Wye is certainly one of Derbyshire's most beautiful rivers and it is very well known because of its dramatic limestone uplands which rise steeply towards the sky either side creating valleys and wonderful walks through lush meadows, woodlands and banks of green willows.