Bradwell is a former lead mining settlement hidden in the Hope Valley, consisting of small clusters of picturesque limestone cottages. Discreet in nature, Bradwell is nestled inconspicuously on a slight hillside, and is unlikely to be found unless you are looking for it. Although not reliant on tourism – Bradwell’s industry sector remains to be the village’s prevalent source of income – tourists are still welcome to enjoy the pleasures of this quaint, unspoilt village.

For being such a small town, Bradwell has produced a number of significant, innovative figures; from founder of Bradwell’s Dairy Ice Cream, Grandma Hannah, who created the famous ice cream by hand in the late 19th Century, whose former kitchen stands today as a popular ice cream parlour; to the inventor of the modern umbrella design, Samuel Fox, who has a dedicated plaque in the town, and also a namesake local restaurant, the Samuel Fox Country Inn. Bradwell’s mining history lives on in Bagshawe Cavern, a popular caving destination; and Bradwell’s Roman history lives on in the remains of the local Navio Roman Fort at Brough.

Things To Do

Navio Roman Fort at Brough – North of Bradwell, there lies a small village to the side of the River Noe called Brough, which boasts, just off the village’s main road, the remains of a roman fort. From afar, the site doesn’t look like much besides a typical field, but on closer inspection, stone formations can be found around what would have been the perimeter of the fort; alongside a collection of rocks, suggestive of the entranceway to the fort’s underground strong room. Historians have concluded that a wooden stockade occupied this plot from 70AD onwards, which was replaced with stone in 150AD. The signpost located just outside the field, which was erected there in 1909, reads: “Public footpath to Hope and Castleton via the Roman Station Anavio. Keep to the track. Altitude 616 feet”, which, as the sign suggests, makes for a good starting point for long walks to Hope and Castleton. The name of the fort, ‘Navio’, is Latin for “on the river”, which implies this fort was also used as a River Noe crossing point. Navio sits at a vital junction, as roads from it lead northwest to the bigger fort at Melandra, and in a southern direction towards the Roman spa town of Buxton.

Caves

Bagshawe Cavern – Lead miners stumbled across this giant natural cavern way back in 1806 and is located east of Bradwell. The cavern itself is situated 100 steps down from the surface; the first chamber reached is teeming with mining paraphernalia, alongside centuries-old pick marks. From there, the tunnel leads to ‘Elephants Throat’ – a fascinating dripstone waterfall. Next, cavers are lead through knee-deep water, before reaching the second chamber, known as ‘the Dream Cave’, followed by several others, including ‘Calypso Cave’, ‘Devils Organ Loft’, and ‘Mouse Hole’, before reaching ‘The Dungeon’, which is a large, open 18-feet deep shaft.

Bagshawe Cavern has been open as a tourist attraction since the latter half of the 20th century and is today open to all levels of caving ability and skill, with special packages available to purchase for beginners.