Buxton – or Aquae Arnemetiae, as it was once known – is one of Britain’s only two Roman bath towns, famous throughout history for the curative properties of its mineral-rich spring water, which rises from 5,000 feet below ground at a steady 27 degrees. It was remodelled during the late 18th century as a fashionable wellness resort to rival Bath, attracting wealthy visitors from across the country and leaving a fine legacy of grand Georgian and Victorian architecture in its wake. Yet, it was also here that many of the ‘sick poor’ of Industrial Manchester were brought to be treated – and Buxton has always remained true to its friendly, down-to-earth, quarry-town roots.
Today, it would be fair to say that the capital of the Peaks is undergoing something of a second revival. A number of major National Lottery Heritage Fund projects have led to the restoration and reopening of its finest buildings, and the launch of a luxury thermal spa in the historic Crescent building has attracted widespread excitement. The renowned Buxton International Festival has long positioned the town firmly on the UK’s cultural map. Additionally, the magnificent Buxton Opera House, designed by celebrated theatre architect Frank Matcham, and neighbouring Pavilion Arts Centre offer an impressive year-round programme of film screenings and live performance.
With a thriving community of local independent businesses, Buxton offers plenty in the way of good food, drink, shopping, and general mooching. Cavendish Arcade, with its eclectic mix of boutiques and cafes, and Buxton Pudding Emporium are among our favourites.
Located in the heart of the UK’s oldest national park, and with both Chatsworth and Haddon Hall on its doorstep, this is a great base for exploring the rest of Derbyshire too. Check out some of our favourite country pubs and rural retreats, as well as Britain’s highest whisky distillery, or enjoy panoramic views over the hills and a two-millennia-old show cave within easy walking distance of the town centre. With trains running every hour from Manchester Piccadilly and the station conveniently positioned just a short stroll away from nearly all of our recommendations, Buxton is the perfect getaway for those wishing to escape the big city.