Standing at the northern gates to Chatsworth, Baslow has been closely linked with the affairs of the Cavendish family for centuries. At Goose Green and Nether End, you are close to the parklands of Chatsworth, with their lodges designed by Wyatville and completed by Joseph Paxton. Today Baslow is largely a commuter village for nearby Sheffield and Chesterfield, but it manages to retain its community spirit, despite the constantly roaring traffic of the A623.
Baslow clusters beneath its own Peakland “edge” which provides fine views across the Derwent Valley towards Edensor and Chatsworth. The Wellington Monument was erected in 1866 by the local Dr. Wrench to celebrate the Duke’s victory at Waterloo in 1815, and matches Nelson’s Monument on Birchen Edge across the valley of the Bar Brook. The climb to the top of the isolated tor known as the Eagle Stone on Big Moor was said to be the ultimate test for every young Baslow man before he married.
Baslow has two fine bridges over the River Derwent, the one at Nether End is a neighbour of one of the few thatched cottages in the Peak District, and the Bridge End bridge, near the church, which dates from the 17th century and features a tiny former tollhouse, with an entrance only 3½ ft (1 m) high.
Baslow also boasts two of the best hotels and restaurants in the Peak; the Cavendish Hotel, which offers 10 miles of fine trout fishing to visitors, and master chef Max Fischer’s Baslow Hall in Calver Road.
WHERE IS IT?
Four miles (6 km) north east of Bakewell, on the A623 Chesterfield-Castleton road.
No one can be sure now who Bassa, after whom Baslow is named, was. The Old English name of the village means “Bassa’s hill or burial mound” and carries the common Peak District suffix of “low”, which comes from the Old English and usually means a burial mound.
The name probably refers to one of the numerous Bronze Age barrows found on the moors to the east of Baslow. Recent extensive archaeological research on the areas of Big Moor, Ramsley Moor, Gardom’s Edge and Baslow Edge have revealed that the area was extensively cultivated and settled from the Neolithic period right through the the Bronze Age. The remains of clearance cairns, field boundaries, hut circles and standing stones, in places like Swine Sty on Big Moor, show that these now inhospitable moors once supported a thriving population.
One of the rarest and finest examples of rock art in the Peak can be found near Gardom’s Edge, above the Robin Hood pub. This intricate pattern of swirling lines and cup-and-ring marks was carved into a huge flat gritstone boulder, when or why no one can be sure. The visible rock is actually a replica – the original has been buried nearby to protect it from vandals.
Climate change and over-intensification led to the abandonment of these early farmsteads, and later industry on the moors concentrated on the production of millstones from places like Gardom’s Edge, where abandoned domed stones can still be found among the bracken under the faces of the crags.
The Baslow Grand Hotel and Hydro was an ostentatious Victorian mock-Gothic structure built the end of Bar Road, the old coach road to Sheffield. Operating between 1881-1936, it was a lesser-known version of the more famous establishments at Matlock and Buxton, but is was demolished in 1936, and all that remains are two stone gateposts.
The Hydro was set in spacious grounds with a croquet lawn, tennis court and bowling green all surrounded by gardens set out like a miniature park. There were nearly 100 bedrooms and in the 1890s, an annexe was added providing a further 20 bedrooms. Until the First World War it was a profitable enterprise, but then trade dwindled and it gradually fell into disrepair before closing in 1936.
The celebrated electrical engineer Sebastian de Ferranti (1864-1930) lived at Baslow Hall for 24 years in the early 20th century. Ferranti experimented with central heating and other electrical appliances in addition to fitting double-glazing at the hall. Sadly, his efforts at battery poultry farming had disastrous consequences – all his chickens who were electrocuted.
PLACES TO GO
The Parish Church
The Parish Church of St Anne is in a Beautiful location near the Chatsworth estate, unusual clockface and flanked by two excellent pubs!
It is a short walk from Goose Green into Chatsworth Park, passing the row of thatched cottages before going through the fields to the rear of The Cavendish Arms.
One of the best high level walks in the area is the four-mile stroll up from the Robin Hood pub on the A619 Chesterfield road, along Birchen’s Edge passing the Nelson Monument, then heading north to cross the A621 Sheffield road and then crossing Eaglestone Flat to the Eagle Stone, the Wellington Monument, and Baslow Edge. You return to the Robin Hood by passing under Gardom’s Edge.
There are about two dozen classic climbs on the natural gritstone outcrop of Gardom’s Edge, including favourites like Moyer’s Buttress, first climbed by the pioneer Sheffield climber Clifford Moyer in 1955, Perfect Day and Eye of Faith.
FOOD AND DRINK
The Gallery Restaurant in the Cavendish Hotel in Baslow’s Main Street (01246 582311) enjoys sweeping views across the Chastworth estate, and the exceptional wine list offers over 70 choices from around the world.
Sunday lunch at Rowleys bar & restaurant in Baslow is always worth a visit too.
Fischer’s Baslow Hall in Calver Road (01246 583259) is a Michelin-starred restaurant which also enjoys a superb setting in landscaped gardens on the edge of the Chatsworth estate. Many of the vegetables come fresh from Max Fischer’s own kitchen garden. Il Lupo on Eaton Hill, Baslow (01246 583164) is an authentic Italian restaurant which promotes the Latin traditions of good food and hospitality.
If it’s just a snack you’re after, then then Cafe on the Green at Nether End, Baslow (01246 583000) has a good selection of hot and cold snacks, including paninis, served in a friendly atmosphere, while Charlie’s Café and Bistro in Church Street (01246 582619) also serves good, locally sourced food.
The Wheatsheaf pub in Nether Road (01246 582240) serves well-kept beers and traditional food, while the Robin Hood Inn, outside the village on the A619 Chesterfield Road (01246 583186) is a popular haunt for walkers on the “edges”, famed for its real ales and home-cooked bar food.
Baslow’s proximity to Chatsworth makes holiday accommodation in the village a popular choice. See the full list of Baslow accommodation.
We’re spoilt for choice with hotels in Baslow. The Cavendish Hotel is actually situated on the Chatsworth Estate and has 23 rooms offering splendid views across Chatsworth. The Devonshire Arms Hotel just down the road comprises a dozen en-suite bedrooms, while Fischer’s Hall is a Michelin-starred restaurant with luxury hotel rooms.
Baslow bed & breakfasts
Baslow self-catering cottages
Tourist Information Centres
Bakewell TIC, The Old Market Hall, Bridge Street, Bakewell, DE45 1DS; Tel: 01629 816558; www.peakdistrict.gov.uk, open daily.
Ashenfell Surgery, Church Lane, Baslow, 01246 582216.
Editor, Let's Stay Peak District
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