Quaint and unique
Not only is Ashbourne an excellent base from which to explore the spectacular Peak District, but it also has a thriving centre packed with historical architecture and independent shops.
Ashbourne is surrounded by the unspoilt countryside of the Derbyshire Dales and is known as the Gateway to the Peak District. Hiking, cycling, swimming and canoeing are just a few of the many outdoor pursuits which can be easily accessed from the town. Asbourne itself is a delightful place to have a wander. Its narrow streets are lined with some of the region’s best architecture and a variety of interesting shops. Dotted around the countryside near Asbourne are a remarkable number of stately homes to explore including Chatsworth and Sudbury Hall.
One of the area’s most popular attractions is Carsington Water, a vast reservoir where walking and sailing are popular. There’s an excellent visitor centre which features a remarkable one-tonne rock which revolves on a thin film of water. If you’re in Ashbourne in February, don’t miss the event for which the town is most famous, the Royal Shrovetide Football Game, when the entire town is transformed into a football pitch. Two teams, the Upards and the Downards, battle it out to score in goals which are three miles apart, in a rough-and-tumble game which is great fun to watch, or play if you’re brave enough.Ashbourne centre
Ashbourne is an enjoyable place to shop, with numerous antique shops, market stalls and boutiques to peruse. Don’t miss St John Street Gallery and Cafe, where you’ll find three floors exhibiting an eclectic mix of paintings, ceramics and crafts.
One of the area’s best fine dining restaurants is the award-winning Lighthouse, where a young team of chefs create fresh, simple meals with British meat and seafood.
“Not only is Ashbourne an excellent base from which to explore the spectacular Peak District, but it also has a thriving centre packed with historical architecture and independent shops.”
Another favourite is White’s of Ashbourne, where excellent food can be enjoyed on the sunny terrace, or in the atmospheric former coaching inn. The Asbourne area is home to several cosy, traditional pubs. The Old Dog serves a selection of local ales as well as a hearty Sunday lunch. Alternatively, try the Duncombe Arms, an award-winning pub in the nearby village of Ellastone, popular for its welcoming atmosphere and high-quality dishes.
Every June and July, thousands of visitors attend Asbourne Festival, which brings together a striking mix of classic and contemporary arts. Visitors can expect to see street theatre, comedians, musicians and artists in a number of intimate venues dotted around the town.