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Did you know that Buxton in the Peak District is the highest market town in England? Sitting 300 metres above sea level, the town has been welcoming visitors to experience its thermal springs since Roman times!
Known then as the Goddess of the Grove, the town has been slowly restored to make the thermal springs the centrepiece of tourism once again – the five-star hotel and spa being the jewel of the project. When this hotel opens, the famous thermal water which rises from the earth at a constant 28 degrees C, will once again be used for spa treatments after decades of being redundant.
Many come to Buxton in Derbyshire to enjoy the lively atmosphere, amazing architecture, beautiful historic buildings and, of course, the culture, shopping and eating out. In this guide we share everything great there is to know about Buxton and what there is to see and do. If, by the end, we have inspired you to come and experience this town for yourself, make sure you check out our great collection of Buxton holiday cottages which offer the perfect base for any adventure.
Things to do in Buxton
When visiting a new place, it is likely you will want a nice balance of adventure time and chill time, so here are some of the best things to do in Buxton which can fit into a morning or afternoon so you still have plenty of time to relax around your cottage too.
This is one of Buxton’s hidden wonders and one the locals are incredibly proud of – after all, it is around two million years old. This is an old natural limestone cave set just on the edge of Buxton and you can experience it for yourself by going underground with an expert guide to view the vast limestone caverns and crystal stalactites. This is an educational, fun and stimulating experience where you can learn about the different points in history in which the cave was utilised. From the stone-age cave dwellers to the medieval cave robbers, this limestone has seen it all!
- Guided tours leave every 20 minutes and are fun and informative.
- The café offers a wide range of light snacks, daily specials, hot drinks and cakes.
- The park and picnic area are lovely spots to let the kids blow off some steam after being on good behaviour underground.
The Pavilion Gardens
Quite often a well-thought-out town will have a central garden that brings a bit of the countryside where people can enjoy nature, wildlife, and greenery on their doorstep. These gardens are enjoyed by over 500,000 people every year who enjoy a combination of walks, lakes and play areas, and have been restored back to their original Victorian style for visitors and locals to experience. This would make for a lovely afternoon after a lazy morning in your Buxton cottage. Take the kids here to stretch the legs, feed the ducks and get some fresh air.
- Give the kids a special ride on the miniature train ride which will have them smiling for hours.
- The gift boutique is a lovely place to browse and pick up a souvenir or local produce.
- The coffee bar offers hot and cold beverages to refuel you while the kids run about.
If you are new to an area and want to find out about its history and heritage, the best way to do this is to visit a museum where historic artefacts are kept along with heaps of information and local knowledge. ‘Wonders of the Peak’ is the main, permanent exhibition at the Buxton Museum, and this boasts over 1,200 objects on display covering around 360 million years of history. From geology to archaeology, there is plenty to see and learn about here.
- Keep an eye out for the pre-historic tools, Roman jewellery and Saxon silver and discover what generations of Peak District people have left behind.
- Marvel over Ice Age animal parts including a cave lion’s hind leg.
- You can enjoy browsing the gift shop which sells minerals, fossils, and bespoke gifts.
This is a Victorian fortified hill marker which sits on the summit of Grin Low Hill near Buxton and can be easily reached by foot making this a nice trip out. It will take you about 40 minutes from Buxton station. The views from the top are impressive, overlooking Buxton and stretching to the far surrounding countryside. At this point you are 439 metres above sea level and on a clear day, it is possible to see Mam Tor and Kinder Scout – the highest hills in Derbyshire. You can easily tie this visit in after a trip to Poole’s Cavern as they are located close by.
- The two-storey tower structure is 6.1 metres tall and was built in 1896 replacing an earlier structure built by Solomon Mycock, a local farmer.
- The structure stands on top of an ancient Bronze Age burial ground where skeletons were found during its construction.
- In Victorian times, a brisk walk up to the temple was a popular ritual for some fresh air after taking to the water.
For more ideas on where to go make sure you read our guide to the best places to visit in the Peak District.
Walks in and around Buxton
Most people who visit the Peak District are those who like to get out and about in nature, immersing themselves in the impressive landscape and enjoying time out in the fresh air. Many come to climb the mountains or speed down them on a bike, and many come to just leisurely stroll different woodland paths and walkways to get that much-needed time out. And Buxton is a brilliant place to do just that. Here are some lovely walks in and around Buxton.
If you are looking for a walk in the town itself, this is a great little walk which is an extension of the Pavilion Gardens. Crossing Burlington Road, the path follows the same River Wye and snakes back round again to re-join the larger expanse of public park. It takes you through the park along the river's edge, making it a lovely spot for a gentle stroll and opportunity to enjoy the nature and wildlife that surrounds you. It is a nice way to enjoy the picturesque setting of Buxton town itself.
Axe Edge Moor
This is a major moorland west of Buxton which is the source of the River Dove, River Manifold, River Dan, River Wye and River Goyt. There is a lovely walk that starts from the Derbyshire Bridge car park which takes you on a journey through the wild moorland of Axe Edge. You will visit Three Shires Head where the counties of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire meet! Overall, the walk is easy and is around 7 miles, finishing back at Derbyshire Bridge. Rest and relax with a beer and slap-up meal at the Cat & Fiddle pub which lies en route towards the end.
A different kind of walking experience! If you head to Stoop Farm, just outside Buxton, you will come across six adorable and friendly alpacas who are keen to spend some quality time with you! Here you can go and meet the alpacas in their field before putting their halters on. You get the chance to learn their names and pet them and take some memorable snapshots. From here you will be able to take them on a gentle stroll around the fields and farm. After your alpaca fun, you are invited to enjoy some tea/coffee and homemade cake in the farmhouse. Location: SK17 0RW
For more ideas on where to go walking in the Peak District, check out our guide to 10 fantastic walks in Derbyshire.
Where to eat in Buxton
So much of any holiday is about the food and much of our day is planned around the next food stop. Whether you need breakfast, lunch or dinner ideas or are just keen to grab a moment to enjoy hot coffee and homemade cake, there are lots of places to eat in Buxton. Here are some to start you off…
For a bite to eat…
The Pavilion Café – Set in the Pavilion gardens, this is one of three cafes which can offer up some lovely dishes to suit any size of appetite. Relax with a light bite, main meal or a coffee and a cake and watch the kids enjoy the soft play area. Location: SK17 6BE
Shop locally and try local produce…
Tag Lane Dairy - Just 15 minutes from Buxton lies Tag Lane Dairy which specialises in coffee and ice cream which is the perfect combination for any family! Enjoy tasting artisan Jersey ice cream which is made using the milk and cream from their award-winning Jersey herd. It is all made freshly on-site and it is produced with the finest all-natural ingredients from fresh fruit to the cocoa in their chocolate. Location: DE45 1JP
Grab a coffee and cake…
High Peak Bookstore and Café – Combine reading, shopping and eating all in one in this great little café. With 5,000 square feet of book-buying heaven, this is any bookworm’s dream. It serves local, freshly ground coffee and an excellent range of loose-leaf teas, as well as breakfast items, lunches, light bites, cakes and snacks. Location: SK17 9PY
For a fancy meal out…
Old Hall Restaurant - The Old Hall offers the very best in traditional and contemporary a la carte cuisine from around the world. Enjoy amazing food whilst admiring beautiful views of the surrounding area. Location: SK17 6BD
Enjoy some retail therapy in Buxton
There is a wide range of independent and unique shops in Buxton complementing a number of national retailers. Immerse yourself in the classical architecture, charming arcades and pedestrianised streets and suddenly shopping becomes a more relaxing event.
The main shopping street is Spring Gardens, along which you will also find the Springs Shopping Centre which has a variety of stores, ranging from Waitrose to New Look and WH Smith. There is something for everyone in this popular retail destination. Many independent and traditional shops line the High Street and Market Place in Higher Buxton. Find one of the county's best second-hand bookshops, a traditional butcher and home decor emporium. Definitely worth the trip up the hill!
The Arches is an artisan market which welcomes everyone to come and browse its quintessentially quirky collection of stalls and pop-up shops. This is a nice place to come for the atmosphere and the chance to come across unique wares you won’t find anywhere else.
Stay in a holiday cottage in Buxton and experience all of this for yourself
Have we inspired you to visit Buxton during your next holiday in the Peak District? Although we have mentioned many things to do and see, places to eat and things to try, there is so much more to discover in this magical area. From hiring bicycles to riding horses, there is a huge amount of activities on offer through the Peak District National Park which can all be experienced whilst staying in or around Buxton.
Browse our collection today. We have everything ranging from family-friendly holiday homes and larger houses for big groups, to smaller romantic cottages for two and trendy two-person apartments. Pick a cottage today and plan a Buxton break to look forward to.