Bamford - gateway to the Dams
...in the heart of the Dark Peak
Many people pass through Bamford without noticing it, on their way to the attractions of the Upper Derwent Valley and the Ladybower, Derwent and Howden Reservoirs.
The village stands at the heart of the Dark Peak, sheltering below Bamford Edge and serving as a gateway to the Upper Derwent and the foot of the Snake Pass.
Bamford is a busy, prosperous little village, with a lively community spirit and popular hostelries although the Derwent Arms was closed at the time of writing. Founded at once was the highest crossing point of the mighty Derwent, Bamford’s cotton mill still stands by the river, but the former industry has long passed it by.
WHERE IS IT?
Four miles (6 km) east of Castleton on the A6013 road.
Bamford gets its name from the Old English, and literally means “a ford with a beam” or footbridge, which probably crossed the River Derwent where the weir in the river is now.
The Snake Pass just above the village was named after the badge of the landowning Dukes of Devonshire, as was the isolated inn high up the pass. It opened as a turnpike road across the Pennines between Sheffield and Glossop in 1821, shortening the journey between Manchester and Sheffield by six miles.
Bamford Mill, on the River Derwent, was built as a cotton mill in 1820 using the abundant power of the river, and later was converted to a factory making electrical furnaces. More recently it has been converted to high-class residential accommodation.
When the Howden and Derwent Dams were built in the early years of the 20th century, the valley of the Upper Derwent was flooded and many farms submerged under the rising waters. The 1,000 or so navvies and their families were housed at Birchinlee, a temporary village of corrugated iron shacks which was known as “Tin Town.”
The Derwent and Howden Dams were used by the famous 617 Squadron – the Dambusters – while they were training for their epic raid on the Ruhr dams in Germany in 1943, during the Second World War. The 1953 film starring the late Richard Todd was also shot here.
Also during the Second World War, the third and largest reservoir, the Ladybower, was built, involving the inundation of the two villages of Derwent and Ashopton. Villagers were re-housed in the purpose-built estate of Yorkshire Bridge in Bamford, below the embankment of the Ladybower Dam.
PLACES TO GO
The Parish Church
Bamford’s elegant church of St. John the Baptist was designed by the famous ecclesiastical architect William Butterfield in 1861. The dead from the church at the drowned village of Derwent were re-interred in Bamford churchyard.
The Fairholmes Visitor Centre in the Upper Derwent Valley below the wall of the Derwent Dam tells the story of the “drowned villages” and the Dambusters, and there is usually a display telling the story of 617 Squadron in the west tower of the Derwent Dam at weekends.
Bamford’s well dressing tradition is relatively recent, starting in 1991 and following the methods and tradition of nearby Hope. It coincides with the village carnival in mid-July.
Bamford Sheepdog Trials
Bamford is the home of one of the most famous of the Peak District sheepdog trials, held annually on the Bamford with Thornhill Recreation Ground every Spring Bank Holiday Monday (the last Monday in May).
The Bamford Sheepdog Association was formed in 1943 and is a registered charity which supports various local organisations.
THINGS TO DO
This is excellent walking country with a range of options from a gentle stroll and perhaps a picnic with the family around the placid waters of the Ladybower or Derwent Reservoirs.
The walk to Derwent Edge is a more serious proposition, demanding good footwear and waterproofs, as the weather on the moors is notoriously changeable. You can extend your walk along the edge to the distinctive rocky outcrops of The Salt Cellar and the Wheel Stones, also known as the Coach and Horses from their resemblance to that early form of inter-city transport.
Since the passing of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act of 2000, there is also access now to Bamford Edge, which overlooks the village and has spectacular views across the Ladybower Reservoir with Kinder Scout and Bleaklow in the background.
Adjacent to the Fairholmes Information Centre is the Derwent Cycle Hire Centre, which offers a range of cycles which can be hired to cycle through peaceful woodlands and traffic free roads around the Derwent, Howden and Ladybower Reservoirs. Tandems, trikes, hand-cranked tricycles and powered mobility scooters can also be provided for the less able, contact the centre for details.
Sickleholme Golf Club is an 18 hole course with great views and steep fairways! Great downhill par 3 to finish too and the 19th is just ahead. After playing the course the great Bobby Locke was so impressed with it that a painting of the 13th hole graced the mantlepiece at his home in South Africa for many years.
FOOD AND DRINK
Cask ales and a good selection of wines complement the lunchtime and evening meals at The Angler’s Rest on Bamford’s Main Road (01433 659415) Children and dogs are welcome and there are regular quiz nights.
The Yorkshire Bridge Inn is just through Bamford, almost on the banks of Ladybower itself and is well worth a visit - with excellent pub food, traditional beers and 14 ensuite bedrooms.
Real ales are also available at the Strines Inn above Bradfield Dale (0114 285 1247), on the Strines Road opposite the Strines Reservoir. Originally the 13th century home of the Worrall family, most of the current building was added three centuries later. Visitors can warm themselves in front of open fires and tuck into hearty bar meals, ranging from sandwiches and salads to filled Yorkshire puddings.
Bamford enjoys a healthy selection of places to stay - see the full list of Bamford accommodation.
Bamford bed & breakfasts
Bamford self-catering holiday cottages
Glossop, former milltown of the Dukes of Norfolk
Buxton, spa town and shopping centre
Bakewell, ancient market town
Castleton, caves and castle
Chatsworth, the “Palace of the Peak”
Tourist Information Centres
Upper Derwent Visitor Centre, Fairholmes, Derwent, Bamford, Hope Valley S33 0AQ; 01433 650953; www.peakdistrict.gov.uk; open Easter to end Sept and weekends.
Derwent Cycle Hire Centre, Fairholmes Car Park, Derwent, Bamford, Hope Valley S33 0AQ; 01433 651261; www. peakdistrict.gov.uk/cycle; open every day Mar to Oct, Nov to Feb.
Buxton Tourist Information Centre, The Crescent, Buxton SK17 6BQ; 01298 25106; www.highpeak.gov.uk; open daily (infobox)
Editor, Let's Stay Peak District
© 2010 - Let's Stay Peak District
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015