The River Wye is one of the best-known rivers in the Peak District. Flowing through the Derbyshire Dales, the Wye connects many of the county’s towns, villages, and iconic landmarks. The head of the 22-mile limestone river is found at Axe Edge Moor, west of Buxton, from which point it flows underground, through Poole’s Cavern, and remerges at Buxton’s Pavilion Gardens as a narrow stream. The river then gains momentum and size as it is intercepted by the Lake Lathkill – Wye’s main tributary – before reaching Ashford. The River Wye then finally reaches, and encompasses much of, Bakewell, connecting much of the village’s main attractions: from the gothic Bakewell Bridge, to the Stately Haddon Hall. The River Wye is at its peak when passing through Bakewell, making the village the perfect starting point from which to explore the bountiful river.
The River Wye has defined the village of Bakewell since its beginnings; the towns oldest standing structure, the gothic 14th century bridge, boasts five impressive arches that stretch across its crystal-clear waters. Further down the Wye, you’ll come across the Holme Bridge, which was built in the year 1664; used extensively by packhorse leaders, this crossing was favoured by those aiming to avoid the toll imposed when crossing the main bridge in Bakewell.
The stretch of the River Wye located at Bakewell was used extensively during the industrial revolution and was utilised to power the several mills that would come to define Derbyshire as an industrial powerhouse. These mills include Arkwright’s Lumford Mill, a famed cotton mill – which, at its peak, employed around 350 people – built in 1782 and still standing today. The mill’s founder, Richard Arkwright, infamously altered the course of the River Wye in order to benefit his production, which interfered with the Duke of Devonshire’s fishing habits; Arkwright was taken to court over the altercation and was ordered to pay £10 yearly in compensation to the Duke.
How to get there
Given that Bakewell rests upon the valley of the River Wye, it is easy to reach the riverbanks from any starting point throughout the village. However, it is possible to complete a small stretch of the Monsal Trail, starting and finishing in Bakewell, which includes some of the most picturesque stretches of the river. This brief, 5.8-kilometre loop commences at Bakewell and heads north towards the Hassop Station, from which point a bridleway leads you along the riverbank; you’ll be able to spectate the Wye’s crystal clear waters and vibrant wildlife, as the path gradually leads you back towards Bakewell.
Of course, if you’re not in the mood for hiking, the Bakewell Bridge is a perfect riverside viewing point.
When visiting the stately manor house, Haddon Hall, a stretch of the River Wye can be found within the grounds. The banks of make for a perfect location to spectate the flowing river, with the imposing medieval house as a backdrop.
Good to Know (Top Tips)
-One of the many bridges that cross the River Wye at Bakewell, the Weir Bridge, has been subject to the ‘love lock’ trend, which has seen tourists attach locks to monuments worldwide. There is a shop in Bakewell sells locks, encouraging visitors to partake in this trend, however, others feel it ruins the look of the bridge, and could prove to be damaging to the crossing in the long term – bare this in mind if you decide to partake!
-Given that the River Wye makes up for a stretch of the Monsal Trail, the riverside can be particularly busy during the day; for a more peaceful walk, visiting during the evening is recommended.
-A day-pass is required in order to fish on the River Wye; information can be found on the Peaks Fly Fishing website.
-When meandering along the River Wye, look out for the bountiful rainbow trout population that can be seen in the river’s waters.
Things to See & Do While at the River Wye (What’s Nearby)
-Explore Haddon Hall, a stately medieval manor house. Complete with a large Tudor-style banqueting hall, gargoyles, and 17th century murals, this building has been used extensively in film and television, most notably in the 2005 adaption of ‘Pride and Prejudice’.
-Although there are many fish & chips restaurants throughout Bakewell, the Riverside Traditional Fish and Chips Shop is of a close locality to the riverbanks and is highly rated.