Buxton guide

...revitalised Spa town

On the western edge of the Peak District National Park is the famous old town of Buxton.


Its claims to fame are somewhat numerous. At around 1000 feet above sea level, it is widely-regarded to be the most elevated market town in Britain. It’s also still well known as a spa town, even though the thermal baths are no longer open to the public. And today the town’s name can now be seen and heard regularly courtesy of a ubiquitous national TV commercial for one of life’s epic swindles, branded bottled water.

With its thermal waters, opulent Georgian architecture, central crescent and leafy streets, Buxton inevitably draws comparisons with Bath. The Somerset spa town, however, has always seemed to enjoy a sparkling reputation, always in fashion.

Buxton spent years in relative obscurity, but a series of imaginative restoration projects put the fizz back into the town, most notably the resurrection of the then-decaying Opera House, which had become a symbol of the town’s decline.

 
Today, Buxton is revitalised – a thriving and picturesque magnet for tourists. Its proximity to not only the Peak District, but the vibrant city of Manchester, is undoubtedly a factor, but even as a stand-alone town Buxton has lots to offer.

Culture

The rejuvenated Buxton Opera House is home to both the Buxton Festival, and the world-renowned International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival. It has also become a reputable concert venue in its own right, with many a nationwide headline tour including the Opera House in its itinerary – be it pop stars or comedians.

Buxton is rich in cultural and historical landmarks. The Pavilion Gardens is a wonderful historic venue located in the heart of Buxton, basking in 23 acres of recently restored pleasure gardens, while the main building is a natural base for tourists coming to the town.

Completing Buxton’s revival is the redevelopment of the town’s historic Crescent, originally built in the 1780s and now soon to be re-launched as a luxury hotel and spa. Due to open in 2011, plans for the National Lottery-funded project include a 79-bedroom hotel, a thermal spa, natural mineral water spa, café and visitor centre.

Other attractions include the subterranean, watery wonders of Poole’s Cavern and St Ann’s Well – where Buxton spring water is freely available, cocking a snook at those exorbitant scams-in-a-bottle.

Stay!

According to local government statistics, Buxton is ‘the main centre for overnight accommodation in the Peak District’. The town and its surrounding areas boast a vast range of places to stay, from Buxton hotels, classy self-catering cottages and barn conversions, to campsites and B&Bs.

The aptly-named Central Cottage enjoys a great location in the heart of Buxton. This dog-friendly holiday home is a stone-built terrace and sleeps 6 in 3 bedrooms.

Also welcoming dogs is Grendon Guest House, a five star B&B of just six spacious and comfortable rooms, including en-suites and four poster beds. The fantastic breakfasts match the high standards of the rooms, and come with an AA Egg Cup seal of approval.

Just half a mile from the centre of Buxton is Wellwood Lodge is a big old Victorian house, sleeping a dozen guests in six bedrooms and also dog friendly.

Buxton crescent regeneration 2012

With the town's rebirth as a vital UK tourist destination confirmed in April 2012 as an agreement between the joint councils and the developer to start the first phase of the project was reached. Phase one work on the now £35 million project for a 79-bedroom 5-star hotel, natural baths, a visitor centre, a thermal mineral water spa and specialist shops due to commence in the summer of 2012. Final completion of the project is due in the spring of 2015 with the spa  hotel expected to open in time for Buxton Festival 2014. 

There’s hardly been a better time in the last 40 or more years to come and stay in Buxton. 


Sean Cummins 

December 2010 .... updated August 2012



 

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015