Things to Do In Ashbourne

There’s a huge range of things to do in Ashbourne for every member of the family. For tourists seeking a town with a rural, close-knit community feel, this Peak District gem is a must see. Heralded as ‘the gateway to Dovedale’, the town is an ideal place to start your Peak District adventure.

Surrounded by valleys and gorges, Ashbourne is the embodiment of Peak District scenery. The area showcases the best in rural landscapes and famed-limestone ravines. Ashbourne offers quick access to two of the most popular climbs in the district, Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill.

Ashbourne – Things to do in Town

A characterful alley leading away from Ashbourne Marketplace.

A characterful alley leading away from Ashbourne Marketplace.

A small town at heart…

Despite a population of almost 13,000 it is claimed that all locals know each other in this popular Derbyshire town.

The community-feel is best demonstrated in the town’s shopping district. There you will find a lots of independent shops helping each other out and trading amongst each other. This feeling of community can be enjoyed at the towns weekly market, where local produce is bought and sold.

Ashbourne is a town of tradition, demonstrated by the towns annual event, the Shrovetide Football match. The event sees the town split in two to compete in a mass medieval tournament.

Enjoy the atmosphere alongside a fascinating selection of Tudor and Georgian houses. These are intertwined with landmarks such as the famed St Oswald’s Church. Ashbourne is a quaint, English town, and should be made part of any trip around the Peak District.

Shopping in Ashbourne

Shopping in Ashbourne offers something for everyone. The town is famed for its selection of chain retailers and independent shops.

Ashbourne is, according to locals, the shopping mecca of the lower Peak District. At a time when high streets and shopping areas are losing footing with the rise in online shopping, Ashbourne’s shops have been able to maintain a strong trade.

Ashbourne market square with george and dragon pub in background
Ashbourne Market square, which has parking, and is home to the popular George & Dragon pub.

Alongside big-name brands such as Mountain Warehouse, Fatface, and the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Ashbourne is also home to lots of thriving, locally-trading boutiques, antique dealers, arts and crafts shops, florists, and jewellers, which makes for a great day out.

Ashbourne’s town centre is also host to several highly rated pubs and restaurants, such as the Lamplight Restaurant, the Bridge, and the George & Dragon.

Ashbourne Market Days

To complement the towns already busy shopping centre, Ashbourne’s quaint and cobbled Market Square features a local market every Thursday and Saturday. Here you are sure to find fresh farm foods, antique furnishings, unique finds, and a buzzing atmosphere!

Walks and Hikes Near Ashbourne


Dovedale Stepping stones from the slopes of Thorpe Cloud
Looking down onto Dovedale stepping stones from the slopes of Thorpe Cloud.

Known as ‘the gateway to Dovedale’, a visit to Ashbourne must include a visit to the town’s stunning valley.

Pulling in millions of visitors every year, Dovedale truly has it all in terms of Peak District scenery. The Dovedale River runs for three-miles and takes you to the foot of Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill.

These are two of the best family-favourite gradients to climb in the Peak District, each showcasing some spectacular views of both Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Besides the hills, Dovedale has plenty of interesting woodland areas, and limestone ravines to be explored.

Ashbourne Tunnel

Ashbourne Tunnel
Ashbourne Tunnel – open to walkers and cyclists.

Ashbourne Tunnel runs through disused 19th century rail tunnel. It’s a popular destination for those seeking a unique walk or cycle.

It runs for 350-metres in total, under Ashbourne itself. The tunnel has been kitted out with both lights and a sound installation. This regularly plays the sound of a moving steam engine, recreating the noises that would have echoed off the walls many years ago.

This unique period feature is a highly immersive and fun experience for the whole family.

Wolfscote Dale – located 9 miles out of town, this popular walking route takes in an idyllic ravine with impressively craggy edges. Here you can enjoy a path which follows the route of the River Dove, and a diverse range of wildlife.

Local Landmarks and Museums in Ashbourne

St Oswald’s Church – One of the most impressive sights in the Peak District, St Oswald’s Church and it’s 212ft high spire acts as the focal point to the town of Ashbourne. The church lies at the bottom of the valley the town is built on. This perpendicular-gothic styled building is estimated to have been completed around the start of the 14th century. St. Oswald’s Church itself dates to to the Saxon-era. Described by George Eliot to be the ‘finest single spire in England’, the Church has some fine stained glass windows dating back to 1905. Other points of interest include a 13th-century window, marble and alabaster monuments, and a selection of tombs. The parish church is unusual in terms of architecture as a north isle was never constructed, giving the church an uneven quality.

Sudbury Hall & Museum of Childhood – Sudbury Hall is a 17th century stately home located in the small village of Sudbury, near Ashbourne. This building is worth viewing for its unusual mix of architecture styles. It’s thought to have been designed by the Lord of the Manor himself, George Vernon. Enjoy a tour of this grade-I listed mansion and surrounding gardens, before popping next door to the Museum of Childhood, taking the place of the former 19th-Century servants wing. This museum showcases toys from generations past and is sure to be a nostalgic trip for visitors of all ages!

What’s On in Ashbourne – Annual Events

Ashbourne Shrovetide Football – This annual medieval football game is played every year on Shrove Tuesday and attracts many spectators. The Prince of Wales even stopped by to view it once! The match sees the streets of Ashbourne filled with players, who pass around a ball which is larger than a regular football and made of Portuguese cork. The aim is to get it into the opposite team’s goals, which are positioned three miles apart. It’s very different from contemporary football, in that the game lasts for 16 hours and is a hand contact sport. It is well worth seeing if you’re in town on Shrove Tuesday!