There were so many possible choices for A in our A to Z of the Peak District! Where would you have chosen? Alstonefield? Alport Castles? Arbor Low? In the end we felt we it was very hard to beat the beautiful Peak District village of Ashford-in-the-Water.
If you’re looking for a perfect chocolate-box village to visit in the Peak District National Park, you’d be hard pressed to find one as lovely as Ashford-in-the-Water. It has everything that a country village needs: an idyllic riverside setting, complete with a medieval sheepwash bridge, pretty limestone cottages, narrow lanes, a classic English tearoom and a couple of cosy country pubs.
The records of Ashford-in-the-Water date back to the 10th Century. In the Domesday Book of 1086 it was referred to as Aisseford, the name deriving from Ash Tree Ford or River.
In contrast to its peaceful ambience today, Ashford-in-the-Water was once home to a thriving quarrying and mining industry producing Ashford Black Marble, a form of limestone which turns black when polished. It was especially popular in Victorian times when it was used to decorate inlaid furniture and funerary items.
You can still see examples of Ashford Black Marble in the pretty village church of Holy Trinity. The church is well worth a visit and its 13th Century tower is still intact, although most of it was rebuilt in the 19th Century.
The Sheepwash Bridge across the River Wye is one of the most photographed bridges in England, and it’s not hard to see why. The river is broad and beautiful at this point and its grassy banks are lined with daffodils in the Spring. There are often ducks dozing here, and you might catch sight of a dipper landing on the rocks in the water, as well as rainbow trout lazily swimming in the river.
The Sheepwash Bridge has been named by Visit England, the national tourist board, as the best location in the country to play Pooh Sticks … and you can’t get a better reason to linger than that!
As its name suggests, the Sheepwash Bridge was once used by farmers to drive their flocks into the water to be washed before shearing, and the small walled enclosure used to pen the sheep is still in situ.
The bridge is now a Grade II listed structure, noted for its historic and architectural importance.