Peak District Blog
It is probably best known for its pudding, but Bakewell is a bustling market town with a fascinating history. Surrounded by the atmospheric streets of Bakewell, it's easy to imagine the scene witnessed by Jane Austen when she wrote "There is not a finer county in England than Derbyshire".
The capital of the Peak District, Bakewell is is the largest town in the national park, with around 4000 population. In fact, it's the only town in the Peak District, as the planners for the national park boundaries, back in 1951 when the Peak District was established as the first national park in Britain, deliberately excluded built up areas such as Buxton, Matlock and Glossop due to their industry, particularly quarrying.
No visit to Bakewell would be complete without a taste of the famous pudding. Legend has it that it was created as a result of a mistake in 1820 when guests at the Rutland Arms hotel requested a jam tart. The cook made the mistake of using the egg and almond paste as a topping instead of a base, to everybody's subsequent delight. Don't mistake the pudding with the tart though, which is an entirely different kettle of fish. Not literally, but you know what I mean.
There are three shops which claim to have the original recipe for the pudding, so it's best to let visitors decide for themselves.
But it's not all about puddings and tarts. This town has a genuine allure for fans of Jane Austen. It is widely accepted that Bakewell was the inspiration for Lambton in Pride & Prejudice, just as nearby Chatsworth House was the model for Darcy's Pemberley. It is claimed that Jane Austen re-wrote part of Pride & Prejudice while she was staying at the Rutland Arms Hotel, which sits in the centre of the town.
The town itself dates back to Anglo Saxon times. The name Bakewell has no link to the obvious connotations about puddings. It means a spring or stream of a man named Badeca. In the Domesday book it was recorded as Badecaanwelle.
A market was established in the town in 1254 and Bakewell developed as a trading centre. The five arched bridge over the river Wye dates back to the thirteenth century.
Modern day Bakewell is still home to some of the best markets in the Peak District, whether its the weekly markets with 160 plus stalls, or the livestock markets, farmers' markets (the second biggest in the UK!) or country fairs.
Visitors can explore the narrow cobbled streets as they wander between the honey coloured stone buildings, along a network of alleyways, courtyards and arcades, complete with unusual and quirky shops and eateries.
So what better way, after all that pudding, to work off the calories than strolling through he historic streets of "Lambton" or feeding the ducks as you walk along the banks of the Wye. You can even add a padlock to the bridge while you are there!