Sheepwash bridge and daffodils at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins 2011
Street scene at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins 2011
Spring blooms at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins 2011
Holy Trinity interior © Mike Cummins
Summer on the river at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins
Great village shop too! © Mike Cummins
Another Holy Trinity interior © Mike Cummins
Ashford Arms © Mike Cummins
Rest your weary legs at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins
Old chapel at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins
Holy Trinity church at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins
Pretty cottages at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins
More attractive cottages © Mike Cummins
Daffodils at Ashford © Mike Cummins
Cottages scene at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins 2011
Hole in the wall gang? © Mike Cummins 2011
Ashford in the Water pump well © Mike Cummins 2011
Cottage on the Wye at Ashford © Mike Cummins 2011
Rural scene at Ashford in the Water
Mums and toddler group at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins 2011
Ashford village hall and Post Office © Mike Cummins 2011
Prett houses at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins 2011
Buxton Road Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins 2011
Riverside Hotel at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins 2011
Sheepwash Bridge on the river Wye at Ashford in the Water © Mike Cummins 2011
Wye daffodils? © Mike Cummins 2011
Popular pub at Ashford-in-the-Water © Mike Cummins

Ashford-in-the-Water

..guide to the prettiest village in the Peak?

Not exactly in the water, but certainly on the River Wye, Ashford is a candidate for the Peak’s prettiest village. It is perhaps most famous for its six beautifully-executed well-dressings which are held annually in early June.


WELL DRESSING BY THE WYE

The 17th century Sheepwash Bridge which crosses the Wye on its low arches framed by overhanging willows, is one of three village bridges, and is a favourite subject for artists. The small enclosure to one side gives away the name, and it is still occasionally used for its original purpose when large crowds gather to witness sheep being unceremoniously tossed into the river in order to cleanse their fleeces before shearing.

 

The rest of the village has a pleasant range of mainly 18th century cottages, and a former tithe barn which now serves as an art gallery.

Check out our HD Ashford -in-the-Water videos

 

WHERE IS IT?

One mile (2 km) north west of Bakewell, just off the A6 Buxton road.

 

HISTORY

The minor road which winds up from Ashford to Monsal Head has been in use for nearly 2,000 years, as it follows the route of the Roman Portway. Beyond Monsal Head, the road is known locally as “Scratter”, which seems to have a Norse sounding name.

 

Edmund, the 1st Earl of Kent and the son of Edward I, constructed a minor castle here in the 14th century, guarding the crossing of the Wye in the field behind the church, but nothing now remains.

 

Ashford has long been an important crossing point of the Wye, and it has been claimed that as many as 300 packhorses used the Sheepwash Bridge at the height of its use in the 17th and 18th centuries. Many were apparently carrying malt from Derby, and lead and wool from the Peak on their return trip.

 

Mining and quarrying

Henry Watson of Bakewell opened Ashford’s black marble quarry in Rookery Plantation just outside the village in 1748. Really a highly-polished grey limestone, this attractive stone became very popular in Victorian times after the death of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria’s extended period of mourning. Examples were exported all over the world, and some fine pieces are kept in Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

 

Extensive remains of lead mining are still to be found especially to the west of the village, where the remains of Magpie Mine, near Sheldon, represent the best preserved remains of a lead mine, which was worked for over 300 years, in the Peak District. It is now a field study centre for the Peak District Mines Historical Society.

 

PLACES TO GO

The Parish Church

At the centre of the village stands the Parish Church of the Holy Trinity - largely rebuilt in 1870 but retaining the base of a 13th century tower.

EVENTS

Well dressing

The best time to visit Ashford in the Water is undoubtedly in mid-May, around Trinity Sunday, when five wells are dressed in the village according to the ancient custom. It was the Sheepwash Well, under the canopy of the shelter near the famous Sheepwash Bridge, which started the revival of the custom in 1930 after a break of many years.

 

Ashford well-dressers are among the most traditional and inventive of all groups in the Peak District, adhering to the strict rule of using only purely natural, locally-found materials. But they often show a fair degree of ingenuity in their choice of themes. But the dressing which often gets the most attention, as in many other villages, is the Childrens’ Well situated in Greaves Lane, which as the name suggests, is decorated by the village children.

 

THINGS TO DO

Walking and cycling

Easy, family-style walking is provided by the popular Monsal Trail, which follows the former line of the Midland Railway as it threaded through some of the most challenging terrain and most beautiful scenery along the valley of the Wye. The many tunnels needed on the line are now open and the trail dips in and out of the dale by the rushing river in a most delightful manner.

 

There are plenty of car parks and picnic sites along the trail, the highlights of which include Miller’s Dale (once the terminus for visitors to Buxton); the SSSI and nature reserve at Miller’s Dale Quarry, and the tremendous limestone buttresses of Chee Tor.

 

FOOD AND DRINK

Fine dining is available in the Riverside Room Restaurant at the Riverside House Hotel in Fennel Street, Ashford (Tel:01629 814275), an ivy-clad Georgian country house in a lovely setting beside the River Wye. Diners can opt for the Riverside Rooms with their inglenook fireplace and formal dining, or enjoy a relaxed three-course lunch or dinner or quick snack in the Conservatory Room.

 

The Ashford Arms (01629 812725) and The Bull’s Head in Church Street (01629 812931) are traditional village inns full of beams and nooks and crannies, offering bar meals serving creative meals using local, fresh produce.

 

Ibbotsons of Ashford, in Church Street (01629 812528), is one of the most individual food shops in the Peak District. Owner Ken Ibbotson’s special pickled onions are renowned and you can also buy made-to-order sandwiches, cooked meats, delicatessen products, chutneys, preserves, coffees, ice cream and fresh fruit and vegetables.

 

The award-winning Thornbridge Brewery at Thornbridge Hall (01629 641000) supplies around 120 outlets with interestingly-named brews such as Jaipur, Jaywick, Kipling and Lord Marples. The brewery also sells bottle-conditioned beers.

SELECTED ASHFORD-IN-THE-WATER ACCOMMODATION
Ashford-in-the-Water, despite its diminutive size, offers a wealth of places to stay, from award-winning B&Bs to a whole host of self-catering holiday cottages. See the full list of Ashford-in-the-Water accommodation.

Corner Cottage is a luxury 5 star cottage of over 300 years in age, and welcomes pets. Sleeps six.  The village boasts an award-winning bed & breakfast in the shape of River Cottage - beautiful riverside accommodation and, of course, rated five star.

Black Swan Cottage is a two bedroom 16th century self-catering cottage for four, while couples may be taken by the 300 year old End Cottage – a delightfully cosy four star property sleeping two people. 

Ashford-in-the-Water Bed & Breakfasts

Ashford-in-the-Water self-catering cottages
 

Ashford-in-the-Water Hotels
 

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

 

TOURIST INFORMATION

Tourist Information Centres

Bakewell TIC, The Old Market Hall, Bridge Street, Bakewell, DE45 1DS; Tel: 01629 816558; www.peakdistrict.gov.uk, open daily.

Buxton Tourist Information Centre, The Crescent, Buxton SK17 6BQ; 01298 25106; www.highpeak.gov.uk; open daily.

Roly Smith
Editor
Let's Stay Peak District

© 2015 - Let's Stay Peak District 

 

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015