Described as one of the ‘Wonders of the Peak District’ by Charles Cotton in 1683, Mary Queen of Scots is said to have even visited Poole’s Cavern. The natural limestone cavern has been carved by water passing through the River Wye system and is over 2 million years old leaving behind a series of otherworldly chambers.
In 1853 the 6th Duke of Devonshire blasted a huge mouth into the cave opening it as a ‘natural curiosity’ for visitors. Tour guides, a lot less scrupulous than today’s counterparts, would charge visitors for good-throwing rocks in an attempt to break off a souvenir stalagmite. Despite many blunted stalagmites, the cavern is well known for the unusual ‘poached egg’ stalactites caused by minerals from lime-burning, leaching through the rock above.
We spent our afternoon in Bakewell, home to the famous Bakewell Pudding (and tarts!) and there are in fact three shops in Bakewell that claim to be the original bakers; essentially, the recipe contains flaky pastry with a layer of sieved jam, topped with an egg and almond paste filling. Although my brother still preferred Mr Kipling’s.
Matlock Bath is also on the edges of Peak District, a favourite of Lord Byron, he dubbed it ‘Little Switzerland’ due to its Alpine landscape. Confirmed a societal favourite by Princess Victoria of Kent who visited in 1820, the town offered a piece of the seaside in the middle of the peaks. The promenade runs alongside the River Derwent and confectionary rock shops, penny arcades and fish ‘n’ chip bars are regular pull for landlocked citizens.
Get the knack
Poole’s Cavern – I’d definitely recommend Jay as a tour guide, although he’s only been their 3 months (and looks like he left school yesterday) his head is an encyclopedia of local and cave related knowledge.
Fancy trying a traditional Bakewell Pudding and not heading to the epicentre anytime soon, get a freshly baked one delivered to your door by the Original Bakewell Pudding Shop.
It was a cloudy day when we visited Matlock Bath, but on a clear afternoon its will worth a trip to the Heights of Abraham.