Who doesn’t love a good guided tour? And with Buxton’s rich history, it has them aplenty, offering a quick way to get to grips with the ancient spa town.
Discover Buxton’s Wonder of the Peak tram tour aboard a converted Victorian milk float is perhaps the most unique of our picks, taking passengers on a 40-mile circuit that departs from the Buxton Opera House and incorporates all of Buxton’s key sites. These 60-minute journeys are led by a lively conductor, who often draws rounds of applause, and have the added appeal of being able to sit on the open-top upper deck if you should so choose (blankets available).
For those that would rather a stretch of the legs, a number of guided walking tours also depart from the Opera House. These range from a traditional History & Heritage amble around the lower town (1hr), to a Natural History Explorer Tour through Buxton’s protected woodlands and down into the Wye Valley (3hr), and a Food & Drink experience (3hr) combining local history with a chance to sample some of the region’s finest produce, including beer from Buxton Brewery and cheese from Hartington.
Or, if you prefer a little drama thrown in then one of the rather colourful ‘character tours’ (1hr) might appeal. Each brings Buxton’s past to life through the eyes of one of five historical figures connected with the town. Among these include Mary Queen of Scots, who visited Buxton on seven occasions to ‘take the waters’ as a cure for her various illnesses, and the feminist writer Vera Brittain who treated wounded First World War soldiers during her time as a nurse at the former Devonshire Royal Hospital (now the Devonshire Dome).
If you’re keen to check out the areas surrounding Buxton, and have your own wheels, download an audio tour from the Discover Buxton website. These include an introduction to the 17th century travel writer Charles Cotton’s Seven Wonders of the Peak, and a journey through some of the smaller, very quaint nearby villages, each with its own fascinating history.
Finally, we’d highly recommend local historian Brian Shepherd’s introduction to Roman Buxton, exploring its ancient history as one of Britain’s only two Roman bath towns, then called Aquae Arnemetiae.