Slap bang in the middle of the Peak District, Buxton is famous for many things. One is the water, another is the Opera House and finally it's known the world over as a bloody great day out.
I’m going to assume that you’ve arrived here on the train. Mainly because to drive here would be boring as you wouldn’t be able to have a bevvie. The train takes about an hour from Piccadilly and shouldn’t cost you more than 20 quid.
When you come out of the train station you’ll be faced with two easy choices. Left or Right. To the left is a couple of big supermarkets, a big roundabout and one of them lovely bridges that the Hogwarts Express tends to go over all the time. To the right – everything else.
Heading down the hill slightly you’ll come to a small roundabout with a few little initial places to check out first.
One of Buxton’s most famous landmarks, the Devonshire Dome was built in the 18th Century to keep the 5th Duke of Devonshire’s prized horses out of trouble, but was then converted into a creepy hospital towards the beginning of the 20th Century. It’s now a University campus so there’s not much to get involved in really – although they do let you have a look around and check out the massive dome roof from inside. There’s also a restaurant in here but I’ve never eaten there so can’t really offer much of an insight. Sorry.
Devonshire Dome, 1 Devonshire Rd, Buxton SK17 6RY
Buxton Brewery Tap House and Cellar
Taking a left after the roundabout and down George Street (down the side of the shops) you’ll come across a few boozers, including The Old Court House, The Lone Star Mexican Steakhouse (!?) and your first tilt stop – the Buxton Brewery Tap House. Exactly what you’d expect from a Tap House, this place is pretty much wall-to-wall with all of the delicious Buxton Brewery tipples – all made with that magnificent Buxton spring water and all brilliant. There’s something for everyone and even if you just want something a bit commercial, their German Kellerbier is mega.
Buxton Brewery Tap House and Cellar, Old Court House, George St, Buxton SK17 6AY
Carry on Down The Square, round the back of everything and you’ll come out at the World Famous Buxton Opera House and the slightly less famous boozer – The Old Clubhouse
Buxton Opera House
Just looking at the beautifully ornate Opera House is enough to transport anyone back to the Edwardian times, when all most people had for entertainment was peeking at women’s ankles and opera. The building was restored to its former glory in 2001 and now runs a packed calendar of shows, events and even films. It’s really rather impressive and if you’re lucky you might get to catch a show here when you visit. For listings, check out the button below.
Buxton Opera House, Water St, Buxton SK17 6XN
The Old Clubhouse
A rather large looking boozer which comes alive in the Summer with them freaky creeping plants, The Old Clubhouse is a classic sort of pub, where the lager is cold and fizzy, the fruit machines are always buzzing and you can get a burger the size of a baby for less than £10. It’s decent enough and the perfect place to quench your thirst ready for some more exploring.
The Old Clubhouse, 3 Water St, Buxton SK17 6XN
Just opposite the Opera House is the rather quaint and lovely No.6 Tea Rooms, perfect for anyone who wants a cuppa, some cake or just fancies going all out and tucking into some Afternoon Tea. You’ll find your usual mix of old dears and families milling about in here but the food is very, very good, and I have it on good authority that it’s probably the best cup of tea in the cosiest of environments you’ll get in Buxton.
No.6 Tearooms, 6 The Square, Buxton SK17 6AZ
You’re going to notice something pretty impressive now (if you haven’t already). The Pavilion Gardens…
The Pavilion Gardens
They say that with the arrival of the railway to Buxton in 1863, a huge boom of visiting Victorians began – all of them flocking to check out this wonderful spa town with it’s delicious water and stunning Peak District setting. As such, a bunch of rich blokes set about creating The Pavilion Gardens to give people something to walk around, as well as somewhere to host events and such. Today the park is perfect for a stroll, a picnic or to throw a Frisbee about while listening to annoying Dub Step music.
The Pavilion Gardens, St John’s Rd, Buxton SK17 6BE
Old Hall Hotel
Reputed to be the Oldest Hotel in England (TM), unless you’re Richie Rich and want to splash your cash I doubt you’ll have much reason to visit the Old Hall Hotel. However, for the sheer fact that you can tell your mates that you’ve actually been in the Oldest Hotel in England, pop into their little wine bar for a few bevvies, or even a cheeky little bite to eat if you’re hungry.
Old Hall Hotel, The Square, Buxton SK17 6BD
Right, it’s about time we started getting some more drinking done. What we’re going to do is we’re going to head up the hill from here, up Hall Bank, check out some of the places down here and then turn around and head back towards the train station.
53 Degrees North
Walking up Hall Bank you’ll see the lovely little 53 Degrees North on the right, a cosy little bar (or Bistro if you’re in the early 90’s) that always seems to have a bit of a buzz and can get quite busy on the weekends. Although I’ve not eaten here, I can tell you that the drinks are always spot on, the service friendly and there’s always a fair whack of locals to chat to when you’re looking for some company. They love their gin in here so it would be a shame not to tuck into a massive goblet of Mother’s Ruin.
53 Degrees North, 8A Hall Bank, Buxton SK17 6EW
Further up the hill a bit is the Kings Head, another rather innocuous and unassuming boozer which is great for a tipple or two. If you had to describe a modern British pub to a Martian, you’d probably describe this place to be fair – they’ve got drinks aplenty, all the food comes with chips and there are enough blackboards knocking around to make Neil Buchanan worried. Some would say it’s a bit of a Starbuck’ed boozer and although they’re not wrong – it doesn’t matter when you’ve got an ice cold pint of Strongbow in one hand and a packet of Quavers in the other.
Kings Head, Market Place, Buxton SK17 6EJ
Finally, at the top of the little hill is Eagle Parade, and there’s a few boozers around here as well as some restaurants and the odd shop.
The Eagle Hotel
A cheeky little Hyde’s pub and lodgings, The Eagle Hotel offer an impressive range of cask beers and ales, with many of them being on a constant enough rotation to be classed as ‘Guest’. It’s cosy, friendly and you’re likely to find the odd few Buxton ‘character’ in here who will chat to anyone about his theories on mind control or the true meaning of the Bermuda Triangle.
10 Eagle Parade, Buxton SK17 6EQ
Directly opposite the Market Place is the New Inn, a decent Robinson’s Pub with a cracking little Beer Garden out front and a roaring fire inside for when it’s cold. You can’t go wrong with the usual Robinsons selection of beers, a few Old Tom’s in here will have you feeling merry and embarrassing yourself in front of the regulars in no time. It’s quite easy to lose a few hours in here chatting, so try to concentrate because there’s a few more places you can visit.
New Inn, 2-3 Market Place, Buxton SK17 6EB
If you fancy checking out a few more Buxton institutions from here, take a walk up Terrance Road and you’ll find Scrivener’s Bookshop which has been voted by the Guardian as one of the ’10 Best Secondhand bookshops in the UK’, as well as The Ale Stop which is a proper good little bar with more beers than you can ever dream of.
There’s also a few things just out of town which are well worth a visit, probably get a taxi…
The perfect place for anyone who doesn’t give a shit about heights, Go Ape is basically set of huge swinging activates high up in the trees that people can use to show that they’ve got ‘balls’ or that they can get along with their workmates or spouse. It’s all a bit Indiana Jones for my liking (and I’m shit scared of heights) but if you fancy doing something that will get the heart pumping a little bit – this is the place. A word of warning though – don’t get pissed up and go here – it won’t end up well.
Go Ape Buxton, Buxton Country Park Pooles Cavern, Green Ln, Buxton SK17 9DH
Probably my most frequented place in the whole of Buxton, I’ve been in here around 11 times and it still manages to both amaze and frighten me in equal measures. The Cavern is a 2-million-year old natural limestone cave which you can venture into and explore. Wikipedia tells me that the cave is 310 metres in length although it’s believed to extend much further under the peaks and beyond. The cave is well worth a visit – you’ll see all of them stalagmites and stalactites and all that – as well as hear some good stories about where the caves got their name from.
Poole’s Cavern, Green Ln, Buxton SK17 9DH
Right, it’s probably about time to head back to the train station now, and you can get back there through the ‘town centre’ to see a couple more things. At the Old Hall, take a right and head up The Crescent…
The Crescent and The Pump House
One of the most enduring images of Buxton is The Crescent, the centrepiece of the 5th Duke of Devonshire’s plans to establish a fashionable Georgian spa town in Buxton. Much like the massive one that’s in Bath, this building is pretty impressive and I think that the Buxton council are looking into developing it into a spa hotel at some point soon. Directly opposite The Crescent you’ll find The Pump House, and more importantly The Well next to it. This well has been churning out crisp, clean Buxton spring water for ages now – so fill your boots – it’s FREE!
The Crescent, Buxton SK17 6BQ