Hartington is a small village located in the northern part of the Dovedale valley, boasting a population of only around 320 people. Given its positioning, Hartington was once a prominent market town for Dovedale’s rural farmers during the middle ages; today, although its former market hall still stands as one of the main buildings in the village, the market no longer takes place. Still, Hartington has become a popular tourist destination in recent years, mostly for its scenery, its cheese, and its quaintness.
In the heart of Hartington lies a large village square, with an idyllic duck pond positioned in the centre. Impressive buildings are found throughout the village, including Hartington Hall, a former stately home turned youth hostel, built in 1611. Other impressive buildings include St Giles Church and the Charles Cotton Hotel.
The town also has a selection of gift shops, some great bars, and the famed Hartington Cheese Shop. A number of footpaths leave from the town and take you to some of the best scenes in the Dovedale section of the Peak District, including Thor’s Cave, Arbor Low Stone Circle, and Gib Hill Barrow.
Hartington Cheese Shop – This local cheese purveyor and cheese making creamery makes for an excitement for both cheese obsessives and food lovers at large. Hartington has been the regional epicentre for cheese in the Peak District for years, and this store has been open and selling cheeses for over 40 years under various titles. The current owners have been successfully supplying Hartington, not only with cheeses, but also local beers, and English wines, since 2009. Situated in the very heart of the village of Hartington, positioned idyllically next to a small duck pond, it is well worth visiting the Hartington Cheese Shop for a perusal of their extensive goods!
Thor’s Cave – Visible from a considerable distance, Thor’s Cave is a sizable natural cave located in the side of a large limestone crag. It is possible to scale the crag and enter the Cave, following a small footpath, which makes for a great position to look out across the valleys. It is claimed that the cave was used for shelter, since at least the late Stone Age, with evidence also found from both the Iron Age and Roman period. Caution is advisable when exploring the cave as it is steep and has also been noted to be slippery on wet days. The cave is situated slightly outside Hartington, near to a smaller village called Wetton.
St Giles Church – Having existed since 1250, St Giles Church was once one of the largest churches in the whole of England, and is still, today, the jewel of Hartington. Serving only residents of its surrounding small village, St Giles Church has remained unspoiled, and is said to have a serene allure.
Arbor Low Stone Circle and Gib Hill Barrow – Situated atop high moorland known as the White Peak area, near Hartington is one of the most vital Neolithic sites in the Peak District. Arbor Low Stone Circle has been named ‘the Stone Henge of the North’ and features around 50 white limestone slabs arranged circularly, surrounded by a ditch. Only one stone is said to remain upright, the others have fallen or sunken too deeply into the earth; despite this, it is said to be one of the best preserved Neolithic sites in the country, and was one of the first sites to be listed under statutory protection in 1882. 300-metres southwest from Arbor Low lies Gib Hill Barrow, a large burial mound that was used through the Neolithic age and into the bronze age. Excavations of the site have found a plethora of bronze age relics, including food vessels and a cremation. These sites are located on private farmland, but the entrance fee is only £1.