Set to the east of the Peak District lies charming Chesterfield, Derbyshire's largest market town and most famous for the distinctive Crooked Spire that can be seen for miles around.
Chesterfield is a lovely town to come and visit with a pretty mix of old characterful buildings and luscious village greenery. It is a calming place to stay too for those looking for a relaxing break in the Peak District. Like any old British town, it has lots of its own quirks which can be discovered with a quiet wander around and the local independent shops and cafes offer great places to browse and sit when you want to just chill out.
It is a well-placed town for exploring further afield too, so read on to discover what there is to see and do in this charming market town and the surrounding area.
Enjoy some of these great things to do in Chesterfield
Play in one of Chesterfield's lovely parks
Whilst picking a location for your family holiday, it is good to know you are booking accommodation close by to a park if you are not choosing a rural location. Having a park close by means the kids can get out and stretch their legs in a safe place and burn off some energy whether that be in the morning or afternoon. Here are some lovely parks which are great places to take the kids. If you don’t have kids, they are nice spots for picnics or simply to lie in the sun and take a nap!
This park has a special link with the Queen in that it was opened in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Here you will find spacious grounds with gardens and beautifully kept lawns, and there is also a café, lake and miniature railway as well as playing facilities which will keep the children happy for hours. There is also a bandstand which is a great addition to the atmosphere when the local brass band takes to the stage during the long summer afternoons. Location: S40 2ND
Poolsbrook Country Park
This brilliant park boasts a visitor centre, children's play areas and lots of picnic sites for those sunny days. With beautiful views out over the lake, you can relax on the grass while the little ones stretch their legs, and the café offers delicious take-away coffee, tea and hot chocolate! There are 4 miles of trails for walking, cycling and horse riding and you can try a spot of fishing in the lake too. Location: S43 3WL
Holmebrook Valley Country Park
This is the largest park in Chesterfield which is made up of gorgeous wildflower meadows and a large fishing lake. With play areas for the children and cycle paths and footpaths throughout the park, this makes for one large adventure playground for all who visit. For the older visitors, there is a well-maintained orienteering route and mountain bike course! For some down time, the park café offers up hot coffee and home-made food. Location: S41 8XP
Visit one of Chesterfield's nature reserves
It is nice to get a balance of activities when on holiday, whether you are travelling with a family, group of friends, partner or solo, so mixing fun and education can be an entertaining way to spend an afternoon out. Visiting a nature reserve is a lovely way to get in amongst nature and reconnect with the natural world itself. Being around birds, creatures and insects can give us a blissful escape for a few hours as our brains turn off and just enjoy the simple pleasures. Here are a couple of fantastic nature reserves to explore...
Avenue Washlands nature reserve
This wetland reserve consists of newly created reedbed, marsh, ponds and grassland in the valley of the River Rother and is a lovely place to take your family for an afternoon out. The reserve is important for its water voles and great crested newts. In addition, farmland birds such as skylarks and yellowhammers are well established here, while wetland birds including lapwings, tufted ducks and little grebes breed on the reserve. There are lots of paths to explore and discover all this fascinating wildlife. Location: S42 6NG
Brearley Park Wetlands nature reserve
This is a slightly smaller nature reserve but just as good. It is a brilliant place to come and spot butterflies and migrating birds, and teach the younger generation about nature and wildlife. It was designated because of the rare invertebrates that are found here – including worms, slugs, spiders and other insects. So, if you are into creepy crawlies, come and discover a wide range here! Location: S41 9LW
Visit one of Chesterfield's interesting museums
If you want to find out all about the history of Chesterfield then this is the first place to come. You can read all the stories, from its beginnings as a Roman fort to the building of the ‘Crooked Spire’ Church which has become iconic to the area. You can also learn all about the town's important industrial heritage which developed the coal mining and local industries.
This is a traditional house which has a display of 17th-century furniture, a video of the Revolution of 1688 and also hosts a list of events throughout the summer. If you happen to be visiting around Christmas, you will be able to enjoy festive flower displays, traditional decorations, and carol concerts! This is a smaller and more intimate museum but those interested in stories of the monarchy will love it.
Admire Chesterfield's famous Crooked Spire Church
This unusual church was built in the late 13th century and is the largest church in Derbyshire. The spire stands 228 feet from the ground and leans nine to five inches from its true centre which is what makes this church really fascinating – although it didn’t always lean. It was in fact built straight, but the amount of green timber used in its construction has caused it to warp over time. St Mary and All Saints Church is a beautiful place to come and spend some time, and you can even take a tour of the tower.
Take a walk along Chesterfield canal
Photo by @toffee_thevizsla
This beautiful waterway was built more than 200 years ago to transport lead, iron and coal to the River Trent but following the collapse of Norwood Tunnel in 1907, it stopped being used. It is now a 5-mile stretch which has been lovingly restored to make a pretty and peaceful place for everyone to visit. You can walk, cycle or pram push along the riverbanks and simply enjoy being next to the water for some much-needed fresh air. The paths are also wheelchair friendly! Location: S41 7JB
Visit a historic house whilst staying in Chesterfield
Stately houses offer a great place to go and soak up culture, traditions, and history. They offer a detailed insight into times gone by, and you can marvel at architecture, antiques and historic artwork. Here are some houses which offer lovely day trips out, places to relax and wander, and grounds for the kids to play in…
Close by Chesterfield lies Chatsworth House which is located just outside Bakewell and is a charming place to visit during your stay in the Peak District. For those of you Jane Austen fans out there, you will recognise it as ‘Pemberley’, Mr Darcy's stately home.
It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Peak District, encompassing over 30 rooms containing significant collections of artwork, ancient artefacts and sculptures spanning 4,000 years. The grounds are wonderful too and offer a great place for the kids to stretch their legs after behaving!
- Entry fee: Entry prices vary – check the website for further details.
- The tea room offers up some delicious refreshments and cakes.
- Fascinating fact: Chatsworth Estate has its very own fire brigade.
This impressive building in Derbyshire was built in the 1500s and stands on top of a hill overlooking the surrounding countryside. Inside the house remains with little changes over time and the contents of it are almost entirely original which is just amazing. You can go and admire the interior and spend time browsing antiques, artwork and marvelling over the historical architecture.
- Hardwick Estate is open every day for countryside walks.
- There is a welcoming gift shop and café on site.
- Fascinating fact: It is one of the earliest English interpretations of Italian Renaissance architecture, and one of the greatest of all Elizabethan houses.
Discover an extraordinary 17th-century romantic residence, perched on a ridge, high above the Vale of Scarsdale. It was originally designed as a fantasy house for lavish parties and entertainment; one of the highlights being the fairy-tale Little Castle, which has rich panelling, sumptuous decoration, impressive painted walls and ceilings, and intricately carved fireplaces. The castle regularly hosts historic and cultural events throughout the year, so keep an eye out for those if you are staying in the area.
- Entry fee: Adult £10.80, Children £6.50, Family ticket £28.10 – other prices apply, check website for further details.
- There is a tea room on-site.
- Fascinating fact: The house was intended to be used as a pleasure palace by Cavendish.
For more on some of the oldest buildings in the Peak District, check out our guide to historic houses and castles in the Peak District.
Trains and treks in Chesterfield
Beyond the church, there are quite a few beauty spots to fall in love with like Cresswell Crags, Poolsbrook Country Park, and Linacre Reservoirs for walkers. Train enthusiasts are spoilt in the Peak District and the eastern edge is no exception because you can go to Barrow Hill Roundhouse Train Museum, which is the only operational example of a roundhouse with turntable in the UK.
Climbers and walkers love Stanage Edge. It is the largest of the gritstone edges to overlook Hathersage. It boasts some of the best views of the surrounding moors and countryside. Other walks in the region include the Flask Edge – Dronfield trek, a 10-mile route that sets some valid challenges for the seasoned adventurer. Just north of Hathersage is a 5.5-mile walk to Surprise View that takes in several tors and eye-popping views. Best recommended for August or September, the beauty of the heather moorland is in total contrast with the millstone outcrops and woodland encountered throughout the walk. Just the names of the landmarks like Over Owler Top, Winyards Nick, Higger Tor, Carl Wark Hill Fort, Burbage Edge and, of course, Surprise View should intrigue the intrepid.
Grab a bite to eat in Chesterfield
There is nothing like the feeling of eating out, when you don’t need to worry about buying food, cooking it or cleaning up after it! Eating out when on holiday is a holiday for everyone – made even better with a great choice of places to dine out. Here are some of the highlights of Chesterfield's food scene…
This is a family-run restaurant based on Chatsworth Road offering the highest quality food and drink using local produce and suppliers. There is a wide range of menus including those for special occasions like Mother’s Day and Valentine's Day. Its afternoon tea is pretty delicious too! Location: S40 2DQ
Photo by Blu Bistro
Since opening in early 2002, after moving from a small town near Naples, the Lombardi family have never compromised on authenticity. What you will find at Lombardi’s are original Italian dishes cooked by Italians, served by Italians, including what is perhaps the best Bolognese in Derbyshire! Location: S41 7LL
Photo by Lombardi's
Here you will find an exciting and varied selection of home-cooked dishes from around the world served alongside an eclectic mix of craft beers, ales and ciders. With two unique dining areas, you can choose to be formal in the restaurant or keep it casual in the bar/dining area. Or perhaps try both if you like it enough to go back! Location: S41 7SA
This is one of Chesterfield's favourite cafés and whether you are looking for a casual coffee stop, a hearty English breakfast, a scrumptious smoothie or a healthy burger, Qoozies is the place to be! There are so many treats to be sampled in this fun establishment. Location: S40 1SA
Photo by Quoozies
Stay in a self-catering cottage in Chesterfield
The Chesterfield region of the Peak District is the perfect place to use as a base to explore and enjoy the many activities and sights the area has to offer. Read our blog about the top five things to do in the Peak District. We have a great selection of holiday homes throughout Chesterfield, Hathersage and the surrounding areas.
Explore our collection which boasts a variety of Peak District holiday homes ranging from family-friendly accommodation to the perfect cottages for romantic getaways. Whatever holiday you are planning we will have something to suit you. Browse our range today…
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please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.